Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee Chairman Ron Johnson is considering subpoenas for records and testimony from current and former FBI officials involved in the bureau’s original Russia investigation, as investigations into the origins of that probe ramp back up again on Capitol Hill.
Fox News has learned that Johnson is seeking authorization to issue subpoenas next Thursday for documents and testimony related to the FBI’s “Crossfire Hurricane” investigation, the Justice Department inspector general’s review of that investigation, and the “unmasking” of U.S. individuals affiliated with the Trump campaign, transition teams, and the Trump administration.
“Crossfire Hurricane” was the FBI’s internal code name for the bureau’s original investigation, beginning in July 2016, into whether members of the Trump campaign were colluding with Russia to influence the 2016 presidential election. That investigation was launched by the FBI in July 2016. Former special counsel Robert Mueller's team eventually announced that it found no evidence of illegal coordination.
Johnson, R-Wis., earlier this month requested from the intelligence community the declassification and release of any unmasking files related to members of the Trump family, Trump campaign and Trump administration.
Johnson has scheduled the “business meeting” to consider authorizing subpoenas for June 4 — the same day that the Senate Judiciary Committee, chaired by Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., will also vote to authorize subpoenas as part of their investigation.
The potential subpoenas from the Senate Judiciary Committee would cover documents, communications and witness testimony in a public setting or behind closed doors for any “current or former executive branch official or employee involved in the 'Crossfire Hurricane' investigation.”
Graham is seeking testimony from former FBI Director James Comey, former FBI Deputy Director Andrew McCabe, former Director of National Intelligence James Clapper, former CIA Director John Brennan, former Deputy Attorney General Sally Yates and others.
The subpoena authorizations at the Judiciary Committee would also cover any documents, communications and testimony “related to any aforementioned matter” from a range of current and former officials.
The subpoena meetings will also take place just a day after former acting Attorney General Rod Rosenstein testifies before the Senate Judiciary Committee, as the first witness to appear as part of the panel’s investigation into the origins of the Russia probe.
“Mr. Rosenstein will testify about the new revelations contained in the Horowitz report concerning the FISA warrant applications and other matters," Graham said in a statement Wednesday. "This will be the first in a series of oversight hearings regarding all things Crossfire Hurricane and the Mueller investigation.”
Graham noted that the committee will, among other things, look at "whether Robert Mueller should have ever been appointed as special counsel.”
Rosenstein, in May 2017, appointed Mueller as special counsel.
Graham announced earlier this month that his investigation would specifically focus on unmasking, abuses of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act, and the appointment of Robert Mueller as special counsel in May 2017.
Graham said that his panel will “begin holding multiple, in-depth congressional hearings regarding all things related to Crossfire Hurricane starting in early June.”
The first phase of the panel’s investigation “will deal with the government’s decision to dismiss” the case against former national security adviser Michael Flynn, as well as “an in-depth analysis of the unmasking requests made by Obama Administration officials against Gen. Flynn.”
Graham said the second area of inquiry for the committee would take place later this summer, and would be focused on Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act abuses outlined by Justice Department Inspector General Michael Horowitz. Graham said that section of his investigation would focus on the FISA warrants obtained against former Trump campaign aide Carter Page.
Meanwhile, Attorney General Bill Barr this week tapped the U.S. Attorney for the Western District of Texas, John Bash, to review the practice of “unmasking” before and after the 2016 presidential election.
DOJ spokeswoman Kerri Kupec told Fox News' "Hannity" that U.S. Attorney John Durham, who has been reviewing the origins of the Russia investigation, was looking into "unmasking" but Barr determined certain aspects of the practice needed further review, and Bash has been assigned to do so.
Unmasking is a tool frequently used during the course of intelligence work and occurs after U.S. citizens' conversations are incidentally picked up in conversations with foreign officials who are being monitored by the intelligence community. The U.S. citizens' identities are supposed to be protected if their participation is incidental and no wrongdoing is suspected. However, officials can determine the U.S. citizens' names through a process that is supposed to safeguard their rights.
In the typical process, when officials are requesting the unmasking of an American, they do not necessarily know the identity of the person in advance.