Ratcliffe: Fusion GPS Co-Founder Glenn Simpson Probably Smart To Assert Fifth Amendment Rights


Fusion GPS researcher Nellie Ohr and ex-FBI official James Baker set to testify before Congress; Rep. John Ratcliffe shares insight on 'Sunday Morning Futures.'

BARTIROMO: We just heard from Congressman Jim Jordan.

My next guest is one of his colleagues on the House Judiciary Committee. He also plans to question some key players in their investigation into the FBI's handling of the Russia probe, as well as the Steele dossier, this week.

Glenn Simpson, the co-founder of the opposition research firm Fusion GPS that helped assemble the dossier, was expected to face the panel on Tuesday. He is rejecting a subpoena to testify. He says he's going to take the Fifth, while former FBI general counsel James Baker plans to testify on Thursday of this week.

Nellie Ohr worked as a contractor for the firm. She is the wife of the number four executive at the Department of Justice, Bruce Ohr. She is set to testify on Friday.

Let me bring in Texas Republican Congressman John Ratcliffe. He sits on the House Homeland Security Committee, as well as the Judiciary. He is a former federal prosecutor.

Congressman, it's good to see you this morning. Thanks very much for joining us more.

REP. JOHN RATCLIFFE (R), TEXAS: Good morning, Maria.

BARTIROMO: What's most important about this upcoming week?

RATCLIFFE: Well, as you know, we did subpoena Glenn Simpson, the Fusion GPS co-founder, the person who commissioned the infamous Steele dossier paid for by Hillary Clinton and the DNC.

He has indicated through his lawyers that he plans to take the Fifth or assert his Fifth Amendment rights against self-incrimination. The reason for that, Maria, is that Glenn Simpson had previously testified under oath to the House Intelligence Committee that he never met with Bruce Ohr or discussed with Bruce Ohr the Steele dossier prior to the October FISA application in 2016 or the 2016 presidential election.

That is in direct contradiction to what Bruce Ohr told me under oath last month. So I'm not surprised if Glenn Simpson is taking the Fifth. He probably should. He's in real legal jeopardy. Very clearly, someone is not telling the truth.

Nellie Ohr, Bruce Ohr's wife, certainly can shed some light with respect to that circumstance. But we also need to find out from Nellie Ohr, who was paid $40,000 by Glenn Simpson and Fusion GPS for her work, including the work on the Steele dossier, why that fact, the fact that the wife of the number four person at the Department of Justice, who, along with her husband, had operational roles with respect to the Steele dossier, that that fact wasn't disclosed by the Department of Justice when they presented that evidence to the FISA court.

BARTIROMO: So -- so, where is the crime then? Is it her husband? Or is it her? She did all of this research, which was never verified, on Donald Trump, and then put it in this dossier, and then put it on a little thumb drive and gave it to her husband at the DOJ, who wasn't even working on anything about Trump at the time.

RATCLIFFE: Well, ultimately, the questions with respect to the FISA court and the representations that were made, remember, what we're talking about is the extraordinary measure of getting a warrant to spy on an American citizen.

And if that was done under false pretenses, with false information or false verifications, then that's violating someone's civil liberties under color of law, 42-USC-1983 violation.

So that's why we need to talk to Nellie Ohr and others to try and determine what the FBI knew, when they knew it, what the Department of Justice knew, when they knew it, and why those representations weren't fully disclosed to the FISA court.

BARTIROMO: It sounds like there was a group at the top of the FBI and the DOJ who frankly didn't like Donald Trump, didn't want him to be president, so they just actively tried to stop him.

RATCLIFFE: Well, I think that's a fair summary.

The same folks that prejudged Hillary Clinton's innocence prejudged Donald Trump's guilt. And the same names are the same folks whose conduct is at issue with respect to how evidence was presented or not presented to the FISA court.

BARTIROMO: You have got to explain to me how it is that somebody who OKed, gave the green light on the FISA warrant based on all of this unverified information -- I'm talking about Rod Rosenstein -- the same guy who wrote a letter to have Jim Comey fired, and then was upset that the president mentioned that he wrote the letter to get Comey fired, the same guy who is running the DOJ today who has been sitting on documents that you and your colleagues have been asking for, for more information about how this all came up, this is the same individual who's overseeing the Robert Mueller investigation?

RATCLIFFE: Well, the reason for that, Maria, is that Attorney General Jeff Sessions has not appointed a special counsel.

Think about the extraordinary circumstance that you just described. The head of the FBI, acting Director Andy McCabe, and the head of the Department of Justice with respect to the Russia investigation, Rod Rosenstein, in direct conflict with one another, each accusing the other of not telling the truth with regard to whether or not someone wanted to record the president of the United States.

That's why we have special counsel provisions. The FBI and the Department of Justice cannot be expected to fairly investigate that matter, when the heads of both of those components at the Department of Justice are in direct conflict. There should be a special counsel, so that we can get answers to these questions.

BARTIROMO: But there was a lot of strategy going on here. There was a media leak strategy. Let's leak a lot of this unverified stuff to the media, so that the media can start talking about it. And they did.

There were informants involved. There was a really significant strategy here in trying to take Donald Trump down, it appears to me. Why won't the president declassify all these documents, so that the American people can clearly understand what happened here, rather than having this hint of Donald Trump had anything to do with it in the zeitgeist?

RATCLIFFE: Well, that's a good question for the president of the United States.

Here's what I can tell you, Maria. All of the documents that Chairman Nunes and others are seeking to declassify, to have the president declassify, I have seen them.

And I can tell you, as a former federal prosecutor, my opinion is that declassifying them wouldn't expose any national security information, wouldn't expose any sources and methods. It would expose certain folks at the Obama Justice Department and FBI and their actions and their actions taken to conceal material facts from the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court.

Let me give you an example that may put this in context with -- without revealing anything that's classified. The underlying pretext to the entire Trump-Russia investigation, Maria, is this idea that George Papadopoulos, a Trump campaign associate, had a conversation with an Australian diplomat about getting Hillary Clinton's e-mails from the Russians.

Hypothetically, if the Department of Justice and the FBI has another piece of evidence that directly refutes, that directly contradicts that, what you would expect is for the Department of Justice to present both sides of the coin to the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court to evaluate the weight and sufficiency of that evidence.

Instead, what happened here was, Department of Justice and FBI officials in the Obama administration in October of 2016 only presented to the court the evidence that made the government's case to get a warrant to spy on a Trump campaign associate.


RATCLIFFE: Declassification would corroborate what I just related to you.

BARTIROMO: Can Robert Mueller do the special investigation without looking at all of this? I mean, how is that investigation having any credibility if he's not actually looking at who did collude or who did work with the Russians?

RATCLIFFE: That issue, I would advocate for the appointment of a special counsel other than Robert Mueller to look at these specific issues.

With respect...

BARTIROMO: Yes, but I want to know where the Mueller is going.

RATCLIFFE: So, where it's going, in my informed opinion as a prosecutor, is that it's winding down.

I have watched closely what's been happening. And if you look at what the special counsel's office is doing, it's staffing down. Folks that are working with the special counsel team are leaving and going back to the offices from which they were detailed.

At the same time, the special counsel is outsourcing and delegating investigative matters back to component agencies or component compartments within the Department of Justice and the U.S. attorney's office. All that signals a winding down.

And it's consistent with the special counsel indicating that it will accept now written answers from Donald Trump's lawyers about all matters collusion-related to obstruction-of-justice-related.


RATCLIFFE: I think, at the end of the day, Maria, where we are headed here is no charges for collusion or obstruction with anyone associated with the Trump campaign, but a report from Bob Mueller outlining perhaps some questionable conduct, and we will be left arguing with our Democratic colleagues whether that rises to an impeachable offense, even if it's not criminal in nature.

BARTIROMO: All right, let's take a short break.

We have a lot more to cover with you, Congressman, Texas Congressman John Ratcliffe.

Up next, on Saudi Arabia, it says it will not be threatened, after President Trump warns of severe punishment if the country is responsible for the disappearance of The Washington Post columnist.

Back in a minute.


BARTIROMO: Welcome back.

I'm back with Congressman John Ratcliffe.

Congressman, thanks so much for being here.

We talked a lot about your week ahead. And we will be watching what takes place in these testimonies next week, of course.

You're also on the Homeland Security Committee. And I want to ask you about one of the international stories of the day. Saudi Arabia is issuing a warning this morning following President Trump's threats over the missing Washington Post columnist.

The Saudis say: "The kingdom affirms its total rejection of any threats and attempts to undermine it, whether through economic sanctions, political pressure or repeating false accusations."

There is an arms deal at stake here. Your thoughts on the relationship between the Saudis and the U.S. today?

RATCLIFFE: Well, Maria, very clearly, this is a gruesome allegation, that the Saudi government was involved in the slaying or alleged slaying of Mr. Khashoggi.

But, again, it's still just an allegation at that point. I still subscribe to the theory of innocent until proven guilty. And unless and until we see this incontrovertible evidence that the Turkish government says that they have, I think we should certainly proceed cautiously in this area.

Listen, I understand, if it is true, we need to take some punitive action against Saudi Arabia. But cutting off ties or ending arms deals with an ally in the Middle East only creates a vacuum for our adversaries there.

Saudi Arabia may be a tenuous ally, but they are still an ally in the most volatile region in the world. And they have been an important counterweight to the actions of our true adversaries, like Iran and Syria and even Russia in that region. So we need to move carefully here.

I trust that President Trump and Secretary of State Pompeo and Ambassador Bolton and others will get the information they need to fairly evaluate this and determine what sort of diplomatic actions need to be taken against Saudi Arabia. But we need to -- we need to be very careful here.

BARTIROMO: Yes, particularly since this is our ally up against Iran, which continues with its hate and terrorist behavior.

Congressman, it's good to see you this morning. Thank you very much for joining us.

RATCLIFFE: Thanks, Maria.

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