Ranking Member Nunes Opening Statement
Worldwide Threats Hearing
April 15, 2021
In their press release announcing this hearing, the Democrats accused the Trump administration of refusing to participate in open hearings on worldwide threats because President Trump allegedly didn’t want agency heads to contradict his views of rival nations.
But the real reason Trump officials didn’t want to participate is that for years the committee’s Democrats hijacked our open hearings to advance their conspiracy theories that the Trump administration was filled with Russian agents who colluded with Putin to hack the 2016 elections. Let’s review a few of those hearings:
- March 20, 2017: Democrats repeatedly recited outlandish collusion fabrications from the discredited Steele dossier. Offering a textbook lesson in McCarthyite smears, they sought to prove he was a nefarious Russian agent by invoking supposed evidence such as Trump having trademarks in Russia, having visited Russia, and having tried to market a vodka brand in Russia.
- July 19, 2018: At an open hearing aimed at raising awareness of the threat to U.S. research and innovation posed by Communist China, the Democrats called an immediate vote to subpoena the interpreter of the Helsinki Summit between Trump and Putin, which was the subject of some bizarre Democrat conspiracy theory that week.
- Then, when their entire Russia collusion hoax imploded after Special Counsel Mueller found no collusion, the Democrats simply moved on to hold open hearings to impeach the president over a conversation he had with the Ukrainian president that had no intelligence component whatsoever.
Naturally, after Inspector General Horowitz found seventeen major omissions and mistakes in the FBI’s FISA warrant application to spy on U.S. citizen Carter Page—a warrant the Democrats had championed—the Democrats did not find the topic worthy of a hearing. Even though this committee’s duty is to monitor the Intelligence Community for abuses, the Democrats simply accepted the word of the officials we’re supposed to be overseeing that the malfeasance catalogued by Horowitz—including lies and mistruths told to the FISA court by the FBI as well as the doctoring of an email by an FBI official—were immediately rectified and no further action is needed.
Based on these experiences, we have little reason to hope that Democrats have any interest in using today’s hearing to fulfill this committee’s core missions – to ensure the Intelligence Community is properly resourced and to monitor it for abuses. Instead, we expect the Democrats will encourage the further weaponization of the Intelligence Community against so-called domestic extremists.
The Democrats see political benefits in characterizing wide swathes of American citizens, particularly Republicans and conservatives, as politically suspect, potentially violent, and deserving of government surveillance. However, I will remind those assembled here today that our Intelligence Community exists solely to counteract foreign threats.
History shows that major abuses occur when our intelligence capabilities are turned inward to spy on our own citizens—from the FBI spying on Martin Luther King Jr. in the 1950s and ‘60s to its surveillance of Republican party members in 2016. This is a red line that simply cannot be crossed—in fact, this committee was created in large part to ensure that line would not be crossed.
That’s why it’s concerning that the Biden administration has directed the DNI to lead a report on domestic violent extremism. It’s also worrying to see a growing number of classified products from NCTC focused on U.S.-based individuals with no foreign influence or connection.
I’d like to submit for the record a letter sent on March 18, 2021 from all Republican members of this committee to DNI Haines which asked questions about the DNI’s authority to report on domestic terrorism and domestic extremists.
Domestic terrorism with no foreign connection is the jurisdiction of our nation’s law enforcement apparatus, not the Intelligence Community. Attempts to blur this line will provoke severe repercussions from every Republican on this committee, from every Republican in Congress, and from the American people.
As for the leaders of the Intelligence Community, I hope you plan on spending a reasonable amount of time in upcoming years on activities other than investigating conservatives and spying on Republican presidential campaigns.
But at a time when Intelligence Community directors appear reluctant to even name Islamic extremists as a terrorism threat, and when they spend so much time virtue-signaling on Democrat priorities such as global warming, I’m concerned about a specific set of issues—that terror networks are continuing to spread, international drug cartels and human traffickers are crossing our borders, foreign cyber-criminals are penetrating our digital infrastructure, and we still can’t get answers about the true origins of the coronavirus in China.
In this Congress, Republicans will focus on this committee’s proper priorities. These include:
- Oversight of the entire Intelligence Community
- Protecting Americans’ civil liberties from intelligence agency abuses
- A deep dive into the roles and missions of the Office of the Director of National Intelligence as well as Homeland Security’s Office of Intelligence and Analysis
- Monitoring intelligence and counter-intelligence issues related to international terror groups and rogue nation states, and
- Analyzing supply chain issues related to China.
When our nation’s leaders don’t pay proper attention to these issues, and instead focus on targeting their political opponents, real threats to American national security do not evaporate. To the contrary, our enemies—who pay close attention to our domestic political affairs—become emboldened. And we end up with dangerous developments among rogue states such as:
- The Taliban becoming emboldened by the needless public announcement of an arbitrary withdrawal deadline for U.S. forces in Afghanistan.
- Russia aggressively threatening further military action against Ukraine.
- China undertaking increasingly menacing provocations against Taiwan.
We have to see the world as it really is, not as we want it to be, or what is convenient for preferred political narratives. The Intelligence Community has the crucial task of defending our national security from foreign threats. But the increasing politicization of this apparatus risks becoming a threat to our national security in and of itself.