- Not enactedThe President has not signed this bill
- The senate has not voted
- The house has not voted
Committee on the JudiciaryCrime, Terrorism and Homeland SecurityIntroducedMay 28th, 2019
- house Committees
What is House Bill H.R. 3028?
Cost of House Bill H.R. 3028
In-Depth: Rep. Bradley Byrne (R-AL) introduced this bill to initiate a formal Dept. of Justice (DOJ) investigation into the actions taken during the 2016 presidential election as they related to the federal investigations into President Trump and Secretary Clinton:
“I’ve read the entire Mueller Report cover to cover, and it’s clear there was no collusion and no obstruction. We need to determine what led to the authorization of the partisan witch hunt against President Trump and find out why, at the same time, Secretary Clinton was given a pass after clearly violating multiple federal laws. Going forward, we must ensure no high-placed government officials ever abuse their position again. My bill will enable the Department of Justice to determine what President Obama and his Administration knew and when they knew it and why numerous questionable decisions were made in 2016 and beyond.”
In an interview on Fox & Friends, Rep. Byrne argued that the Mueller probe turned up a “big goose egg.” He added, “It was a partisan witch hunt from the beginning and we need to get to the bottom of who was behind this and how far up the chain does it go.” Rep. Byrne also implied that the Obama administration had engaged in nefarious actions during the 2016 election, asking, “What did President Obama know and when did he know it?” In an op-ed in Breitbart, Rep. Byrne contended that the DOJ was biased against Trump during the 2016 election and raised the possibility that President Obama had used the FBI to spy on the Trump campaign.
This bill doesn’t have any cosponsors.
Of Note: During the 2016 presidential election, then-FBI Director James Comey opened an investigation into then-presidential candidate Hillary Clinton’s use of a private email server during her tenure as Secretary of State. At the conclusion of his initial investigation in July 2016, Comey held a press conference in which he called Clinton’s actions “extremely careless” but didn’t recommend criminal charges. At that time, he was criticized for delivering remarks on the investigation, as that responsibility generally falls to the attorney general rather than the FBI director (Attorney General Loretta Lynch had distanced herself from the investigation following public revelation of a meeting on an airport tarmac she had with Bill Clinton, but didn’t recuse herself outright).
Then, in October 2016, Comey announced in a letter to Congress that the FBI was reopening its Clinton email investigation. Upon this announcement, he was criticized for commenting on an ongoing investigation, which went against typical FBI practice. Comey’s handling of the Clinton email investigation has drawn criticism from both sides of the aisle, with the Clinton campaign contending that he irreparably damaged her campaign. In her 2017 book “What Happened,” Clinton wrote that she felt “shivved” by Comey’s October 2016 letter to Congress notifying the body of his decision to reopen the FBI investigation into Clinton’s private email server after the agency found relevant emails on a computer belonging to top Clinton campaign aide Huma Abedin’s estranged husband Anthony Weiner’s laptop. Clinton and other Democrats believe the October 2016 announcement, which was only days before Election Day, tilted the election in Trump’s favor.
On the Republican side, Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC) told FOX News in March 2019 that he believes Comey and former Attorney General Loretta Lynch gave Clinton a “free pass” on her email investigation while simultaneously opening a politically motivated counterintelligence investigation into the 2016 Trump campaign. In his interview, Sen. Graham said, “I hope there’s a special counsel appointed to look at DOJ corruption and political bias because [Special Counsel Robert] Mueller did his job against Trump. Nobody’s really looked at the Clinton campaign, the FISA warrant abuse or the counterintelligence investigation for criminality, yet somebody should."
Trump and a number of high-ranking Republicans have consistently floated a theory that Obama and Clinton allies helped initiate the Russia investigation. To help make this argument, they claim that the Russian investigation began after Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) alerted the FBI to the existence of the Steele dossier in 2016. The Steele dossier — an unverified intelligence document containing a number of claims, some of which are far-fetched, about the Trump campaign’s dealings with Russia — was indirectly funded in part by the Hillary Clinton campaign through the 2016 Clinton campaign’s lawyer, who paid Fusion GPS, an opposition research firm that subcontracted with former British spy Christopher Steele to gain information about Donald Trump’s ties with Russia from foreign nations.
The Steele dossier depicted Trump as a Manuchurian candidate bought and paid for by Russia and totally under the Kremlin’s control due to blackmail. Among its claims, it alleged that the Russian government had incriminating behavior about his behavior on trips to Russia, that retired Russians in the U.S. were running secret communications to enable Russia’s control of Trump and that Trump campaign manager Paul Manafort was using foreign policy adviser Carter Page as an intermediary with Russia. Further, the dossier accused Page of attending secret meetings in Moscow and Trump lawyer Michael Cohen of meeting Kremlin representatives in Prague in August 2016. Notably, none of these claims were repeated in Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s report, indicating that the Mueller investigation and intense FBI vetting didn’t confirm many of the Steele dossier’s claims.
However, Steele’s defenders have noted that the information from the dossier that was used to justify monitoring Page has essentially held up. According to the Steele dossier, Page met with high-level Russian officials, including Russian state-owned oil giant Rosneft’s CEO, while in Moscow in July 2016. While Page initially denied this claim and said he’d only gone to Moscow to give the commencement address at the New Economic School, he later admitted under oath to meeting with “senior members of the [Russian] presidential administration” during the trip and the head of investor relations at Rosneft.
Given the Steele dossier’s questionable origins and the fact that it wasn’t extensively cited in the Mueller report, Trump and his supporters argue that it was a distorted document the FBI improperly used as “evidence” to illegally obtain a series of Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) warrants to eavesdrop on Carter Page. In an April 22 appearance on Sean Hannity’s Fox News show, Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC) questioned the Steele dossier’s use to obtain warrants, asking, “How could you use a dossier four different times to get a warrant against an American citizen when it’s a bunch of garbage?”
However, irrespective of the Steele dossier’s origins and veracity, the FBI’s counterintelligence investigation of the Trump campaign began in July 2016 — over half a year before McCain gave then-FBI Director James Comey a copy of the dossier in December 2016. According to the New York Times, the inciting incident was WikiLeaks’ publication of hacked emails from the Democratic National Committee (DNC) in July 2016, which prompted Australia’s top diplomat in Britain to inform his American counterparts of a conversation he’d had two months earlier with Trump campaign foreign policy adviser George Papadopoulos. According to the Australian diplomat, during a night of heavy drinking in London, Papadopoulos bragged to him about knowing that Russia had political dirt on Hillary Clinton in the form of thousands of embarrassing emails. Additionally, according to the Nunes memo prepared by Trump ally and then-House Intelligence Committee chair Rep. Devin Nunes (R-CA), the FBI’s investigation of the Trump campaign was “triggered” by evidence presented to American officials about Papadopoulos having secretive contacts with Kremlin agents.
In a June 2019 interview with ABC News’ George Stephanopoulos, President Trump repeatedly complained about the Mueller report and the origins of the Russian collusion investigation as a whole. He reiterated that he “did nothing wrong” and said Obama “had to know” about the FBI “setup” to investigate his campaign. However, he didn’t directly accuse Obama of initiating the FBI investigation.
Earlier, in May 2019, Trump tweeted that he would “demand” the DOJ investigate whether the FBI or DOJ infiltrated or surveilled his campaign “for political purposes,” and whether such demands or requests were made by people in the Obama administration. Following Trump’s demands, the DOJ asked its inspector general to investigate whether there was any impropriety or political motivation in the FBI’s conduct of its counterintelligence investigation of persons suspected of involvement with Russian agents who interfered in the presidential election.
Additionally, in May 2019, Attorney General William Barr announced that he’d assigned John Durham, the U.S. attorney in Connecticut, to conduct an inquiry into alleged misconduct and improper government surveillance of the Trump campaign in 2016, as well as whether Democrats were the ones who improperly colluded with foreign actors. According to Fox News, Barr is working with FBI Director Christopher Wray, CIA Director Gina Haspel and Director of National Intelligence Dan Coats and Durham is working directly with DOJ IG Michael Horowitz on these investigations.
Thus far, Barr has indicated that he believes there was some mismanagement in the Russia probe’s early days, saying, “To the extent that there was any overreach, I believe it was some — a few people in the upper echelons of the bureau and perhaps in the department. But those people are no longer there, and I'm working closely with [FBI Director] Chris Wray, who I think has done a superb job at the bureau. We're working together on trying to reconstruct exactly what went down.”
Rep. Adam Schiff (D-CA), the senior Democrat on the House Intelligence Committee, has called Trump’s claims of an embedded spy in his campaign “nonsense.” In a tweet, he added that Trump’s demand that DOJ “investigate something they know to be untrue is an abuse of power, and an effort to distract from his growing legal problems.”
- Sponsoring Rep. Bradley Byrne (R-AL) Press Release
- Sponsoring Rep. Bradley Byrne (R-AL) Op-Ed
- Fox News
- Newsweek (Context)
- South China Morning Post (Context)
- Vox (Context)
- Christian Science Monitor (Context)
- RealClearPolitics (Context)
Summary by Lorelei Yang(Photo Credit: iStockphoto.com / uschools)