Arguably the most important power at stake in Tuesday’s election was Congressional oversight, and the most important change may be Adam Schiff at the House Intelligence Committee. The Democrat says his top priority is re-opening the Trump-Russia collusion probe, but more important may be his intention to stop investigating how the FBI and Justice Department abused their power in 2016. So let’s walk through what we’ve learned to date.
Credit for knowing anything at all goes to Intel Chairman Devin Nunes and more recently a joint investigation by Reps. Bob Goodlatte (Judiciary) and Trey Gowdy (Oversight). Over 18 months of reviewing tens of thousands of documents and interviewing every relevant witness, no Senate or House Committee has unearthed evidence that the Trump campaign colluded with Russia to win the presidential election. If Special Counsel Robert Mueller has found more, he hasn’t made it public.
But House investigators have uncovered details of a Democratic scheme to prod the FBI to investigate the Trump campaign. We now know that the Hillary Clinton campaign and the Democratic National Committee hired Fusion GPS, which hired an intelligence-gun-for-hire, Christopher Steele, to write a “dossier” on Donald Trump’s supposed links to Russia.
Mr. Steele fed that document to the FBI, even as he secretly alerted the media to the FBI probe that Team Clinton had helped to initiate. Fusion, the oppo-research firm, was also supplying its dossier info to senior Justice Department official Bruce Ohr, whose wife, Nellie, worked for Fusion.
House investigators have also documented the FBI’s lack of judgment in using the dossier to obtain a Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) warrant against former Trump aide Carter Page. The four FISA warrants against Mr. Page show that the FBI relied almost exclusively on the unproven Clinton-financed accusations, as well as a news story that was also ginned up by Mr. Steele.
The FBI told the FISA court that Mr. Steele was “credible,” despite Mr. Steele having admitted to Mr. Ohr that he passionately opposed a Trump Presidency. The FBI also failed to tell the FISA court about the Clinton campaign’s tie to the dossier.
This abuse of the FBI’s surveillance powers took place as part of a counterintelligence investigation into a presidential campaign—which the FBI also hid from Congress. Such an investigation is unprecedented in post-J. Edgar Hoover American politics, and it included running informants into the Trump campaign, obtaining surveillance warrants, and using national security letters, which are secret subpoenas to obtain phone records and documents.
Mr. Nunes and his colleagues also found that officials in Barack Obama’s White House “unmasked” Trump campaign officials to learn about their conversations with foreigners; that FBI officials exhibited anti-Trump bias in text messages; and that the FBI team that interviewed then Trump National Security Adviser Michael Flynn reported that they did not think Mr. Flynn had lied about his Russian contacts. Mr. Mueller still squeezed Mr. Flynn to cop a guilty plea.
All of this information had to be gathered despite relentless opposition from Democrats and their media contacts. Liberal groups ginned up a phony ethics complaint against Mr. Nunes, derailing his committee leadership for months. Much of the media became Mr. Schiff’s scribes rather than independent reporters. Meanwhile, the FBI and Justice continue to stonewall Congress, defying subpoenas and hiding names and information behind heavy redactions.
There is still much more the public deserves to know. This includes how and when the FBI’s Trump investigation began, the extent of FBI surveillance, and the role of Obama officials and foreigners such as Joseph Mifsud, a Maltese academic who in spring 2016 supposedly told Trump campaign adviser George Papadopoulos that Russia held damaging Clinton emails. When he takes over the committee, Mr. Schiff will stop asking these questions and bless the FBI-Justice refusal to cooperate.
Senate Republicans could continue to dig next year, but Mr. Mueller seems uninterested. Attorney General Jeff Sessions in March asked Utah U.S. Attorney John Huber to look into FBI misconduct, but there has been little public reporting of what he is finding, if he is even still looking. Justice Inspector General Michael Horowitz is investigating, though that report is likely to take many more months.
All of which puts an additional onus on Mr. Trump to declassify key FBI and Justice documents sought by Mr. Nunes and other House investigators before Mr. Schiff buries the truth. A few weeks ago Mr. Trump decided to release important documents, only to renege under pressure from Deputy AG Rod Rosenstein and members of the intelligence community.
Mr. Sessions resigned this week and perhaps Mr. Rosenstein will as well. Meantime, Mr. Trump should revisit his decision and help Mr. Nunes and House Republicans finish the job in the lame duck session of revealing the truth about the misuse of U.S. intelligence and the FISA court in a presidential election.