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House Republicans launch ‘Phase 2’ of Trump dossier probe

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House Intelligence Committee Republicans have launched “Phase 2” of their probe into the origins of the unverified anti-Trump dossier, firing off an inquiry to a host of current and former officials — including former FBI Director James Comey.

In a letter obtained by Fox News, committee Chairman Devin Nunes, R-Calif., posed a string of dossier-related questions to current and former intelligence, law enforcement and State Department officials. He specifically wants to know when they learned the document was funded by Democratic sources, and how it was used to obtain one or more surveillance warrants at the secret Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court.

In the Feb. 20-dated letter, Nunes even threatened to issue subpoenas.

“If you do not provide timely answers on a voluntary basis, the Committee will initiate compulsory process,” he wrote. 

Nunes, with cooperation from the White House, earlier this month released a controversial memo alleging the anti-Trump dossier – compiled by former British spy Christopher Steele and funded by the Democratic National Committee and Hillary Clinton campaign – was crucial in the application for a surveillance warrant against Trump associate Carter Page.

FILe - In this June 8, 2017 file photo, former FBI Director James Comey is sworn in during a Senate Intelligence Committee hearing on Capitol Hill in Washington. Comey’s publisher is moving up the release date of his memoir “A Higher Loyalty,” to April 17. (AP Photo/Alex Brandon, File)

James Comey and other ex-officials are facing new questions from Republican Rep. Devin Nunes about the Trump dossier.

 (AP)

Democrats have called that memo misleading and want to release a memo of their own – though have been delayed by national security objections from the White House. Amid the firestorm, Nunes told Fox News earlier this month that his committee would pursue “Phase 2” of the investigation.

He suggested this would include scrutinizing the State Department and other agencies.

The new letter includes a dozen questions about the dossier, including how the officials in question learned of the document’s Democratic funding and whether they held meetings about the unverified allegations against Trump or took any other official action. 

Fox News understands the questionnaire went out to about two dozen current and former officials.

Among them were Comey, former Director of National Intelligence James Clapper and former CIA Director John Brennan, who testified in May 2017 that the Trump dossier was virtually unknown to him.

“I have no awareness,” Brennan said, when asked by GOP Rep. Trey Gowdy if the FBI ever relied on the dossier as part of any court applications.

The newly released GOP memo says the FBI and Justice Department relied heavily on the Trump  dossier and downplayed its Democratic roots.

A source close to the investigation is not ruling out the possibility that more officials could be questioned as the next phase of the probe continues. 

Perhaps anticipating this phase of the investigation, an Obama State Department official earlier this month acknowledged he had regular contact with the dossier’s author.

In a Washington Post column, Jonathan Winer detailed an extensive exchange of documents with Steele, a friend of his since 2009. He said he shared “more than 100 of Steele’s reports with the Russia experts at the State Department” over a period of two years. These weren’t related to American politics – but he would later share information about the Trump dossier with the top levels of the Obama State Department.

Further, Winer said he shared separate Trump-related material passed on by a Clinton contact with Steele. And he acknowledged that material, originally from Clinton-tied activist/journalist Cody Shearer, made its way to the FBI.

In publishing his Op-Ed, Winer wrote that he suspects Nunes wants to know about his own relationship with Steele while at the Obama State Department.

Fox News’ Judson Berger contributed to this report.

Catherine Herridge is an award-winning Chief Intelligence correspondent for FOX News Channel (FNC) based in Washington, D.C. She covers intelligence, the Justice Department and the Department of Homeland Security. Herridge joined FNC in 1996 as a London-based correspondent.

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'Cowards!' Johnny Mercer breaks silence on Boris sacking as he launches explosive rant

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FORMER veterans minister Johnny Mercer has sensationally hit out at the Government after being sacked from his position yesterday evening.

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Remember the debt limit? Top Republican revives demand for spending cuts

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WASHINGTON — After Republicans spent recent years raising the debt limit without conditions, Sen. Rick Scott is pushing the GOP to insist on dollar-for-dollar spending cuts as part of a debt ceiling increase ahead of a July 31 deadline.

The Florida Republican’s effort could reignite the brinkmanship fight of 2011 that brought the United States to the cusp of default, which experts said would have caused a global financial crisis.

Scott said he’s unsure whether his party will go along with it.

“I’m working on it,” Scott, who runs the campaign operation for Senate Republicans and has a large say in which candidates get extra funding, said. “I think people agree with me. I think Republicans agree that we have too much debt and that we have to figure out how to live within our means.”

Such a move would represent a turnaround for Republicans after they supported debt limit extensions under former President Donald Trump without strings attached. Scott’s push tests the appetite of Republicans to revive an aggressive brand of fiscal conservatism that reflected the party’s posture under former President Barack Obama.

“The American public is scared to death of all this debt and what’s happening with inflation,” said Scott.

The effort comes after Biden and congressional Democrats pushed through a $1.9 trillion Covid-19 relief package and are now trying to drum up support for a $2 trillion package of infrastructure and jobs programs.

Wall Street is watching the debate closely.

In an April 2021 memo, Goldman Sachs urged Congress to raise the debt ceiling early to limit “political uncertainty,” even though the government may have enough headroom to keep borrowing until “the final days of September or very early October.”

“Some Senate Republicans are likely to use the debt limit deadline as an opportunity to highlight the recent increase in federal debt and press for fiscal restraint,” said the memo from Goldman’s economic research arm, which added that it was “likely a less credible threat than usual.”

Sen. Ron Wyden, a Democrat and chairman of the Senate Finance Committee, said the demand was “a page from the Obama-era economic sabotage playbook, and I’m not going to let Republicans play games with the economy for their political benefit.”

“The last time Republicans held the debt ceiling hostage they nearly crashed the global economy. Of course, they had no interest in holding the debt ceiling hostage when Donald Trump was president and they were showering mega-corporations and the wealthy with hundreds of billions in tax breaks,” he said in response to Scott.

In 2011, the Republican-controlled House strong-armed Democrats into accepting legislation aimed at cutting spending by about $2 trillion as the price of raising the debt ceiling. But in the years after that, Obama changed his posture and refused to negotiate, and Republicans ultimately backed down.

Today, Republicans don’t control either chamber of Congress. Their main leverage is the 60-vote threshold to pass most bills in the Senate, which is divided 50-50 between the parties. Scott’s crusade would require at least 41 senators to oppose a “clean” debt limit extension, or one without cuts.

Alternatively, some Democratic aides believe the debt limit can be dealt with under the filibuster-proof reconciliation process as long as the hike is structured as a dollar amount and not extended to a particular date. Even so, that option is available to the Senate on a limited basis.

The debt limit is a self-imposed mechanism by Congress that restricts the ability of the U.S. government to borrow money to fulfill its obligations. Increasing it does not authorize more spending.

“Our job is to be a fiduciary for the American taxpayer. That’s my job,” Scott said. “And so that’s what I’m going to do.”



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'Insult to voters!' Nicola Sturgeon shamed after snubbing BBC Newsnight election special

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NICOLA STURGEON has come under brutal attack from her political rivals after snubbing a Scottish election special edition of BBC Question Time that will see all other opposition leaders take part.

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