Senator Ted Cruz (R-Texas) and Senator Josh Hawley (R-Mo.) tore into the Deputy Director of the FBI Tuesday over his refusal to discuss allegations that Joe Biden took $5 million in bribes from a Ukrainian oligarch.
The Democrat-led Senate Judiciary Committee held an oversight hearing Tuesday morning to examine Section 702 of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) and related government surveillance authorities. The provision will expire at the end of the year and a number of key Republicans have stated that they believe it should be allowed to expire.
Members from both parties have accused the government of abusing FISA and believe that the reauthorization of Section 702 is an opportunity to make changes.
A recently-unsealed Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court document found that the FBI misused Section 702 of FISA more than 278,000 times in 2020 and early 2021, “including against crime victims, January 6 riot suspects, and people arrested at protests in the wake of the police killing of George Floyd in 2020.” In one particularly egregious case, they reportedly relied on Section 702 to spy on 19,000 donors to a congressional candidate.
The panel of witnesses was made up of top officials in the intelligence community: David Cohen, Deputy Director Central Intelligence Agency; George Barnes, Deputy Director National Security Agency; Chris Fonzone, General Counsel Office of the Director of National Intelligence; Paul Abbate, Deputy Director Federal Bureau of Investigation, and Matt Olsen, Assistant Attorney General National Security Division, Department of Justice.
Cruz said that every day, he hears from Texans who are “deeply dismayed about the growing politicization and weaponization of the FBI and DOJ.” He added: “This is profoundly damaging to the rule of law in our nation.”
The Texas Senator tried without success to shake loose some more information about the FBI-generated FD-1023 form detailing an arrangement between the Biden clan and former Burisma Holdings owner Mykola Zlochevsky involving millions of dollars in bribes for policy decisions while Joe Biden was vice president.
“Deputy Director Abbate, is it true that the FBI has a report making those allegations?” Cruz asked.
“I’m not going to comment on that, Senator,” Abbate answered.
“And why is that?” demanded Cruz.
“I’m just not going to comment on information we’ve received, investigations, or other matters,” Abbate replied curtly.
“You don’t owe the American people an obligation to be candid about evidence of corruption by the President of the United States?” Cruz pressed.
“This is an area that I’m not going to get into with you, Senator,” the G-man insisted.
“Well I understand you don’t want to, and that’s why people are mad at the FBI. Because you are stonewalling and covering up serious allegations of evidence of corruption from the President!” Cruz exclaimed.
The Bureau has had Hunter Biden’s incriminating laptop in its possession since December of 2019, and rather than investigate its contents, the FBI conducted a multi-faceted influence operation targeting multiple social media platforms and major corporate media outlets to discredit accurate reports on a major scandal that threatened to torpedo Joe Biden’s 2020 presidential campaign.
The FBI has also been sitting on evidence regarding the Biden-Zlochevsky bribery scheme since 2017, according to House Oversight Chairman James Comer. According to a new report, the United States intelligence community believes Zlochevsky is an asset of Russia’s Foreign Intelligence Service (SVR).
On Monday, Senator Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) stood on the Senate floor and alleged that the FBI document references 17 recordings of the Burisma official scheming with the Bidens. It isn’t clear whether the FBI ever made any effort to obtain copies of the recordings, or just has the document referencing the recordings.
“Fifteen of them are voice recordings of him talking with Hunter Biden, two of them are voice recordings of him talking to Joe Biden,” Cruz noted, before asking the FBI deputy director if the FBI has those recordings.
Abbate, of course, refused to answer that question.
“This is the problem. This is why you are damaging the institution,” Cruz declared. “The American people have a right to know whether there is serious credible evidence that the president of the United States took a $5 million bribe.”
Abbate denied that the FBI was stonewalling on the matter and said that he rejected the senator’s assertion that the FBI is politicized.
Cruz asked him again if the FBI has the 17 recordings, and Abbate refused to answer.
“So you’re stonewalling!” Cruz exclaimed. “The FBI right now has an unlimited hubris that you believe that you are unaccountable. You don’t believe that you’re accountable to the United States Congress and you don’t believe you’re accountable to the American people!” he added.
Cruz said that even though his constituents in Texas think the FBI should be abolished, he still thinks the Bureau has some redeeming value.
“You have heroes and patriots working for you that are catching child predators, that are catching terrorists, but you’re sitting there happily erecting a wall to protect Joe Biden,” he charged.
Cruz asked Abbate whether the FBI would provide the Biden bribery document and the recordings to the Senate Judiciary Committee “so we can assess what is the evidence—the credible evidence that Joe Biden personally took a $5 million bribe from a foreign national.”
Abbate said that he would take the request back to the Bureau and would “work within the perimeters of the process” to get the information to the Senate.
“Did you investigate in any way, shape or form these allegations?” Cruz demanded.
Abbate refused to answer the question.
WATCH: Senator Cruz DESTROYS the Deputy Director of the FBI over his refusal to discuss allegations that Biden took $5 million in bribes from Ukraine. pic.twitter.com/6mbAwNwHor
— Senator Ted Cruz (@SenTedCruz) June 13, 2023
Hawley also demanded that the FBI document be handed over to the Senate Judiciary Committee, and pointed out that it is unclassified. The deputy director claimed that the FBI was closely guarding the file to protect the identity of their source.
Josh Hawley ROASTS FBI Official During Senate Hearing
.@HawleyMO: "We've confirmed that the document exists…after you first denied it…Why don't you just release it? Is it classified?"
FBI OFFICIAL: "The document is not classified."
HAWLEY: "Will you commit to releasing… pic.twitter.com/GJjpazzdf9
— Daily Caller (@DailyCaller) June 13, 2023
Hawley demanded to know who at the Bureau was reprimanded for lying to the FISA Court to obtain warrants to spy on the Trump Campaign in 2016.
“There is an ongoing disciplinary process with respect to individuals involved in that,” Abbate answered.
“Here’s the deal. You’re back in front of us asking for the reauthorization of extraordinary authorities,” Hawley began. “Multiple courts have uncovered extraordinary abuses perpetrated by your agency. You are at the same time concealing information about serious allegations made against the president of the United States even as your institution targets his chief political opponent in an unprecedented way. Why would we ever give you the blank check that you want to continue surveilling American citizens in an improper manner? Why would we ever do that?”
“Senator, we’re here to talk about reforms, today,” Abbate responded snidely.
“No we’re not! We’re here to talk about the reauthorization of Section 702,” Hawley shot back. “Why would we reauthorize it given your track record of abuse and illegal, improper surveillance and political targeting?” he demanded. “Why would we do that? Why would it be appropriate for this body to do that?!”
Senator @HawleyMO: "Has anybody been held accountable for your institution deliberately lying to a FISA court to get a wiretap on an ongoing presidential campaign?"
FBI Deputy Director: "There is an ongoing disciplinary process" pic.twitter.com/kiQksjhD3j
— RNC Research (@RNCResearch) June 13, 2023
Before the 2022 midterm elections, Rep Jim Jordan (R-Ohio), Chairman of the Judiciary Committee, promised “major changes” to the Justice Department and FBI if Republicans won control of Congress, and said unless major changes are made, FISA should not be reauthorized.
“I think we should not even reauthorize FISA which is going to come in the next Congress,” Rep. Jordan said in a Fox News Channel interview on October 9, 2022. “At the very least, Congress needs to change the FISA process, Jordan added.
More recently, Rep. Matt Gaetz (R-Fla.) noted in an interview with Newsmax that “we are going to have to take a vote in the Congress to reauthorize the very authorities we saw weaponized in [the John Durham report] and I cannot imagine any Republican voting to reauthorize those authorities.”