As investigations are underway to see how United States intelligence agencies acted against then-candidate and President Trump, Republicans in the House are making sure it will never happen again.
Republican Congresswoman Elise Stefanik introduced a bill that would prevent the FBI Director from acting on his or her own when deciding to launch an investigation into a presidential candidate. The bill would add congressional oversight and would require the director to submit a report to Congress ahead of such an investigation.
“The bill requires the FBI to notify the congressional intelligence committees when the FBI opens a counterintelligence investigation into federal campaigns, like the bureau did with President Trump’s campaign in 2016,” the Washington Examiner reports. “It also codifies the protocol for investigations into campaigns for a candidate for any federal office, and any individual knowingly associated with a campaign for a candidate for federal office.”
Stefanik’s office reportedly dubbed the legislation, the “FBI Counterintelligence Bill” and said it “addresses existing concerns that (1) the Bureau could unilaterally decide to not brief Congress on counterintelligence matters, and (2) the right congressional overseers are informed of sensitive counterintelligence investigations into campaigns for Federal office.”
According to the Washington Examiner, Stefanik previously approached Comey about the FBI’s protocol for informing Congress about these sorts of investigations.
Asked specifically why Comey did not alert members of Congress that he was launching an investigation into then-candidate Trump, Comey said the investigation was too sensitive to share.
Check it out:
In the exchange between Stefanik and Comey, the New York lawmaker pressed Comey on why he didn’t notify Congress of his agency’s investigation into the Trump campaign. Comey responded that “it was a matter of such sensitivity that we wouldn’t include it in quarterly briefings.”
Stefanik asked: “When you state our decision, is that your decision? Is that usually your decision what gets briefed in those quarterly updates?”
Comey replied, “No, it’s usually the decision of the head of our counterintelligence division.”
Here’s more from the report:
Note: The author of this article has included commentary that expresses an opinion and analysis of the facts.
Recently released transcripts from the congressional testimony of former FBI official Bill Priestap, former head of the counterintelligence unit and ex-FBI agent Peter Strozk’s direct boss, cast doubt on Comey’s statements in front of Congress in 2017 about who made the decision not to inform congressional leadership about the Trump-Russia investigation until 2017, despite its launch in July 2016.
When asked about this in 2017, Comey said the choice on whether or not to alert Congress is “usually the decision of the head of our counterintelligence division.”
But in 2018, when asked who made the decision not to tell Congress about this specific investigation, Priestap — the former assistant director of the FBI’s counterintelligence division — replied: “Mr. Comey.”
The FBI says it began the counterintelligence investigation, dubbed “Crossfire Hurricane,” on July 31, 2016. At a May 21, 2017 hearing in front of the House Intelligence Committee nearly a year later, Comey said Congress had only been told about it “sometime recently.”