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Top Republicans are probing the origins of the fake Trump Russia collusion story

By Sarah May on
 April 27, 2023

A new twist has emerged in a probe into the origins of the Russia collusion claims against candidate and then-President Donald Trump, with two Republican senators now demanding that the Justice Department produce unredacted versions of key documents, as the Daily Mail reports.

The requests came in a recent letter to DOJ Inspector General Michael Horowitz sent by Sens. Ron Johnson (R-WI) and Chuck Grassley (R-IA), both of whom have been involved in investigating the FBI's “Crossfire Hurricane” probe of the aforementioned – and since disproven – collusion claims and also of subsequent reviews of the manner in which it was conducted.

Unredacted Records Sought

At issue for the senators are Justice Department records related to Crossfire Hurricane that were requested and recently received by conservative nonprofit group Citizens United through a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request.

According to the senators' letter, the 406 pages of records received by Citizens United were “heavily redacted” and represented a “partial response” to the FOIA request that sought, among other things, “interview transcripts...generated as a result of investigative interviews” related to a review of Crossfire Hurricane.

Johnson and Grassley added that because “massive redactions” were made to many of those transcripts, the records are “impossible to review.”

“We write to request the unredacted version of those records,” the legislators continued, referencing transcripts of interviews with four key figures in the probe, namely, Kathleen Kavalec, Lisa Page, Loretta Lynch, and Nellie Ohr.”

“Ongoing Efforts to Expose Corruption”

In justifying the request, a Senate aide reportedly told the Mail that Johnson and Grassley believe that the records are directly related to their continued efforts to find the truth about the way in which the Trump–Russia collusion matter was investigated.

“The records contained in the DOJ [Office of Inspector General's] February 3, 2023 FOIA production to Citizens United directly relate to our ongoing efforts to expose corruption within the FBI,” the senators stated.

Johnson and Grassley further asserted, “It is also our job to oversee [Offices of Inspectors General] to ensure the efficiency and effectiveness of operations.”

Having articulated their claim to jurisdiction over the matter, the senators issued a deadline of May 9 for the production of the requested materials.

Additional Requests Made

With that date in mind, the senators included a list of additional information they wish to receive from the DOJ, beginning with the details of any and all transcribed interviews conducted in the internal probe of Crossfire Hurricane as well as of any interviews that were conducted but not transcribed.

The lawmakers are also demanding a list of all agencies or other entities with which the DOJ OIG shared the requested records in connection to the Citizens United FOIA request.

Another area of interest for the senators relates to Special Counsel John Durham, who has been conducting his own probe of the origins of the Russia collusion investigation, which has thus far only succeeded in securing a guilty plea from former FBI attorney Kevin Clinesmith for unlawfully altering an email to aid in efforts to surveil Trump campaign staffer Carter Page.

Johnson and Grassley are seeking information on whether Durham “requested records or transcripts from the DOJ OIG” and, if so, whether he received the materials he wanted.

Unrelenting Inquiry

Johnson's participation in document demands he says are designed to root out corruption is not surprising, given his recent comments on revelations earlier this month that former CIA Director Mike Morell played a role in coordinating a letter signed by dozens of former intelligence officials declaring that the Hunter Biden laptop story was a product of Russian disinformation.

The Wisconsin lawmaker opined during a recent installment of the Cats Roundtable with John Catsimatidis that the letter was a blatant attempt by then-candidate Joe Biden's campaign to engage in election interference to beat Trump in the 2020t presidential election.

“Actually, they knew the Hunter Biden laptop was real. The FBI knew that. They had possession of it in December 2019,” Johnson stated. “They wrote a letter to interfere in our election to a far greater extent than anything China or Russia ever could hope to do....”

Pointing to the broader fact-finding mission he and Grassley appear to be on, Johnson mused, “The truth is slowly starting to be pried out. Bit by bit. Piece by piece."