House Intelligence Committee chairman Devin Nunes (R-CA) has been a busy man.
In a Thursday letter to two fellow GOP chairmen, Nunes referred 15 people connected to the Russia investigation to testify in an "open setting." Many of those on the list are tied directly to Hillary Clinton, Fusion GPS and the infamous "Steele dossier" - a collection of 17 memos full of compromising yet unverified claims about President Trump's ties to Russia.
The names on the list include Sidney Blumenthal, Fusion GPS founders Glenn Simpson and Thomas Catan, Perkins Coie attorney Marc Elias, and former FBI agent and Feinstein staffer Daniel Jones, who is spearheading a $50 million Soros-funded effort to continue the Trump-Russia investigation with Fusion GPS and Steele.
The Steele dossier was compiled by former MI6 spy Christopher Steele on behalf of opposition research firm Fusion GPS, and was funded in part by Hillary Clinton and the DNC.
The Thursday letter to GOP House Chairmen Trey Gowdy and Bob Goodlatte is the third sent by Nunes in recent days referring people to Congressional panels in what appears to be a massive expansion of the "SpyGate" probe into the FBI/DOJ counterintelligence operation against the Trump campaign surrounding the 2016 US election.
All together, Nunes has referred 42 people to Gowdy and Goodlatte - highlighting that the individuals likely fall under the scope of their joint task force. Moreover, he's not about to let them wiggle out of testimony.
"They can plead the Fifth," Nunes told Fox News host Laura Ingraham. "This isn't going to be like the documents where we've had to continue to fight with the Justice Department in order to have access to documents. This is much different. These are all American citizens. They will, if they do not agree to appear under oath, and testify, then they will be subpoenaed. That I could tell you for sure."
What is Nunes up to?
As the Washington Examiner's Byron York notes, Nunes is up to something.
The short version is that the investigation is expanding to the two additional committees, even as Nunes devotes his own committee's resources to learning whether the FBI used informants against the 2016 Trump campaign and, if so, how many, when, and how much money was spent on the project.
In the last week Nunes has sent three letters to Goodlatte and Gowdy, each recommending a number of people that the task force should interview. The first letter focused on current and former officials of the Justice Department and FBI, 17 in all, whose actions formed the focus of the first phase of Nunes' investigation, on the Trump dossier. The second letter focused on current and former officials of the State Department and some other agencies, 10 in all, whose role in the dossier and other matters formed the second part of Nunes' probe. And the third letter focused on people outside of government, 15 in all, whose names have popped up throughout the investigation. -Washington Examiner
So Nunes has sent three letters encircling three specific categories of individuals involved in the Trump-Russia investigation in some way or another, and has recommended that either Judiciary or Oversight committees interview each person.
As York also points out, there is a very real risk that the House may return to Democrat control after midterm elections.
And if Democrats take over the House, there will be no more Republican chairmen. There will be no more Republican subpoenas, no more demands that Fusion GPS figures testify. The Intelligence, Judiciary, and Oversight committees will likely be run by Adam Schiff, Jerrold Nadler, and Elijah Cummings, or in any event by Democrats. It would be an understatement to say the committees' investigative focus will radically change. The current GOP committee leadership has done a lot in the last year. But their time might be running out. -Byron York
Read Thursday's referral below: