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In the crosshairs: 33 Russia collusion probe witnesses who could be subpoenaed in the Senate

From Brennan to Comey, Senate Republicans have a large number of witnesses they want to interrogate in the discredited Russia probe, according to a list obtained by Just the News.

Published: June 7, 2020 8:18pm

Updated: June 8, 2020 2:20pm

For more than two years, Republicans hoping to get to the bottom of how the FBI sustained the Russia collusion probe in the absence of any evidence of wrongdoing by President Trump faced a never-ending cycle of hurry up, and wait.

Wait for Robert Mueller to finish his special counsel probe. Wait for Justice Department Inspector General Michael Horowitz to release his report. Wait for the Director of National Intelligence to declassify documents.

The waiting is now over, and Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Chairman Ron Johnson, Wis., now has the authority to subpoena the agencies and individuals he wants to interrogate or to turn over documents. Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Lindsey Graham hopes to get his subpoena power this week.

A list of Johnson's subpoena targets obtained by Just the News shows his committee is seeking documents from the FBI, Justice Department, the State Department, and the Director of National Intelligence related to the Russia collusion probe known as Crossfire Hurricane as well as 33 individuals who played a key role in sustaining a flawed probe across multiple bureaucracies.

The scope of the subpoenas suggests a far-reaching inquiry.

For instance, the FBI will be asked to surrender "all records related to the Crossfire Hurricane investigation. This includes, but is not limited to, all records provided or made available to the Inspector General of the U.S. Department of Justice for its review that resulted in the report 'Review of Four FISA Applications and Other Aspects of the FBI’s Crossfire Hurricane Investigation'; and all records related to requests to the General Services Administration (GSA) or Office of the Inspector General of GSA for presidential transition records from November 2016 through December 2017."

The State Department will be asked to produce records of its contacts with Christopher Steele, the former MI6 operative who penned the unverified dossier that was used by the bureau as essential evidence in pursuing the case. And the DNI will be asked for all records related to the Obama administration's unmasking of Trump campaign and transition figures in intelligence intercepts.

The list of individuals that Johnson's committee is seeking to question or seek documents from includes some familiar figures in the controversy, like fired FBI Director James Comey, ex-FBI Counsel James Baker, fired FBI Special Agent Peter Strzok and his paramour, the former FBI lawyer Lisa Page, Obama Director of National Intelligence James Clapper, former CIA Director John Brennan and former Obama National Security Adviser Susan Rice, whose final email on the day she left office about President Obama's dealings in the Russia probe has stoked great intrigue.

Senate investigators plan to delve into discrepancies in stories between Comey and Brennan over the intelligence community assessment that Russia tried to help Trump win the 2016 election and Comey and Clapper over who briefed President Obama in early January 2017 about a sensitive intercept of a conversation between incoming Trump National Security Adviser Michael Flynn and the Russian ambassador to Washington.

One of the most anticipated witnesses is Bill Priestap, the former FBI assistant director of counterintelligence, who supervised Strzok's Russia investigation and interacted often with former FBI deputy director Andrew McCabe.

Internal FBI text messages, emails and handwritten notes suggest there may have been some friction between McCabe and Priestap related to the pursuit of former National Security Adviser Michael Flynn. And Senate investigators are eager to question Priestap about what his handwritten notes meant when they talked about concerns the bureau was "playing games" with Flynn and possibly trying to catch him in a lie "so we can prosecute him or get him fired."

Some of the witnesses on the list include former senior Obama administration officials like former Treasury Secretary Jacob Lew and Deputy Treasury Secretary Sarah Raskin, the wife of a Democratic congressman, who sought to unmask Flynn's name in intelligence intercepts after the end of the 2016 election and before Trump took office in January 2017, according to recently declassified intelligence documents.

Johnson's team also has identified three Obama-era State Department officials for questioning about their contacts with Steele, including former Assistant Secretary of State Victoria Nuland (who oversaw Russia policy), former Deputy Assistant Secretary Kathleen Kavalec and former State official Jonathan Winer.

Kavalec met with Steele in October 2016 shortly before the FBI used his dossier evidence to secure a FISA warrant targeting the Trump campaign. She wrote a memo questioning the accuracy of some of Steele's intelligence and noting he admitted to her that he was leaking to the media and had an election day deadline to get his information public.

Among the most intriguing names on the list are two longtime associates of Bill and Hillary Clinton, former journalist Sidney Blumenthal and private researcher Cody Shearer. Senate investigators want to question them about any research they may have conducted on Trump-Russia ties, any interactions they had with U.S. government officials about Trump, and whether they had any contact with Steele or his supervisor at the Fusion GPS research firm, Glenn Simpson.

You can view the entire subpoena list here.

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