On Sunday, Representative Davin Nunes, ranking Republican on the House Select Committee on Intelligence, told reporters that he is about to make eight criminal referrals to the Department of Justice related to crimes committed in the launching of the Russiagate investigation. While the details of the referrals will remain classified, he provided clear indications of the targets.
Speaking on Fox News on April 7, Nunes said: "Five of them are what I would call straight up referrals so just referrals that are, that name someone and name the specific crimes. Those crimes are lying to Congress, misleading Congress, leaking classified information."
"There are three that I think are more complicated so you mentioned conspiracy. So the question on conspiracy is what, there's the conspiracy statute, and then what do they need to look at under that statute. So on the first one, is FISA abuse and other matters we believe there is a conspiracy to lie to the FISA Court, mislead the FISA court by numerous individuals that all need to be investigative and looked at. The second conspiracy one is involving manipulation of intelligence. That also could [involve many] many Americans and we are, so that's kind of the second one. As you know, we've had a lot of concerns with the way intelligence was used."
Nunes described the third referral as "global leak referral."
"There are about a dozen highly sensitive classified information leaks that were given to only a few reporters over the last two and a half-plus years, so we don't know if there's actually been any leak investigations that have been open, but we do believe that we've got pretty good information and a pretty good idea of who could be behind these leaks. Doesn't mean we know all the people behind the leaks because when you read these a lot of these they're always anonymous sources, and they always say something to the effect of current and former senior officials."
Since the start of the Russiagate probe, Nunes has focused on collusion between former CIA Director John Brennan, former Director of National Intelligence James Clapper, former FBI Director James Comey, former FBI Deputy Director Andrew McCabe and FBI Agent Peter Strzok. They were all implicated in the circulation of the "dodgy dossier" produced by "ex" MI6 agent Christopher Steele. Steele simultaneously worked on behalf of the Hillary Clinton campaign, the Democratic National Committee and the FBI, peddling unsubstantiated allegations against then-Presidential candidate Donald Trump.
In the wake of the release of the Mueller report, which exonerated Trump on any collusion with Russians in manipulating the 2016 presidential elections, many of the Nunes targets have been scrambling to distance themselves from the operations they launched against Trump. Now it will be up to the Department of Justice to determine whether they crossed the threshold of criminal conspiracy.