Probe opened into FBI targeting of House Intelligence committee staffers during Russia probe

House Judiciary Committee Chairman Jim Jordan demands evidence from FBI, suggests snooping on Devin Nunes' staff may have been "retaliation."

Published: July 13, 2023 4:37pm

Updated: July 13, 2023 8:08pm

The House Judiciary Committee on Thursday opened a formal investigation into why the FBI snooped on two Republican House Intelligence Committee staffers during the height of the Russia collusion probe, suggesting the seizure of their private email and records may have been retaliation for the panel's efforts to expose bureau misconduct.

The letter from Committee Chairman Jim Jordan, R-Ohio, to FBI Director Christopher Wray was prompted by reporting in Just the News and the New York Post revealing that Kash Patel, the chief investigator on then-House Intelligence Committee Chairman Devin Nunes' team, had his email seized from Google back in late 2017, just before the release of a report that identified significant failures and abuses in the Russia collusion scandal.

Patel and a second unnamed committee investigator were not notified until 2022, five years after the seizure, Just the News reported.  

"The Committee on the Judiciary is conducting oversight of the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI)," Jordan wrote Wray in a letter obtained by Just the News. "In 2017, Google reportedly received subpoenas for private emails and records belonging to two Republican staffers of the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence (HPSCI) while HPSCI was investigating the FBI’s misconduct.

"These subpoenas only came to light in 2022 due to Google’s policy of alerting customers five years after law enforcement takes such action," Jordan added. "The timing of these subpoenas raises questions about whether the subpoenas were in retaliation for HPSCI’s oversight of the FBI."

The letter, which demands records be turned over by the FBI by the end of this month, comes after special counsel John Durham told Congress earlier this summer he corroborated many of the abuses that Patel, Nunes and his team first found in the Russia probe.

It was also sent one day after Wray appeared for a contentious hearing before Jordan's committee where the director repeatedly refused to answer lawmakers' most pressing issues. 

In an interview Thursday night, Patel reacted to word of the congressional probe but urged Congress to be more aggressive and directly subpoena the FBI evidence.

"I can definitively say it was an unlawful surveillance and snooping of me and it wasn't just me," he told the Just the News, No Noise television show. "And I think it's more than two people. And I think it's more than just telephone and bank and phone records. I think they went further than that and got congressional records. So the House better step up right now. Because right now it affects them as much it affects me. 

"Congress needs to send out subpoenas, enough with the niceties and asking and put butts in the seat and get some answers to questions," he added.

The investigative letter demands the FBI surrender all "documents and communications referring or relating to subpoenas issued to Google or any other email or telecommunications provider for records of members or staff of the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence staff in 2017."

You can read the full letter here.

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