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BARTIROMO: Welcome back, more breaking news. The Justice Department and the FBI only partly meeting the deadline set in this subpoena from House republicans to hand over classified documents on the Russia investigation.
After lawmakers threatened to hold officials in contempt of Congress, House Speaker Paul Ryan's office said it finds the request for additional time on the remaining documents reasonable.
But House Intel Chairman Devin Nunes firing off a -- a new letter to Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein, demanding answers by tomorrow night. Texas Congressman John Ratcliffe sits on both -- one of the panels that questions and requested the documents, the House Judiciary Committee.
He also serves on the House Homeland Security Committee and is a former U.S. attorney. Congressman, it's good to see you this morning. Thanks so much for joining us.
REP. JOHN RATCLIFFE, R-TEXAS: You bet.
BARTIROMO: I want to start off with your test -- your Congress -- congressional testimony last week where you were questioning Michael Horowitz, and you -- you were talking about all of the bias between the FBI and the DOJ against Donald Trump. Here's a clip from that.
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Precisely the question we're looking at, Congressman, but we know that Horowitz came out and said that all of this political bias did not change the outcome of the Hillary Clinton investigation.
And then we see this op-ed in the Journal yesterday, exactly what you said, entitling "Mueller's Fruit of the Poison Tree". So are -- it's basically says it makes no difference how honorable he is, this investigation is tainted by the bias that attended its origin in 2016.
That's basically the point you're making, isn't it?
RATCLIFFE: That's exactly right, Maria. What's remarkable about the testimony that we heard from the inspector general is it wasn't some partisan republican, this is the FBI's own independent referee who's saying that he's deeply troubled and concerned that it is Peter Strzok and other Trump hating agents and lawyers collecting evidence and making every decision for the first nine months of that investigation, that that is by definition prejudicial to the fair and impartial administration of justice.
And as that Wall Street Journal article talks about, it raises the legitimate legal question of fruit of the poisonous tree, that if your foundational evidence is so corrupted and tainted by how it's been collected, if it violates due process through -- through bias and prejudice, then everything that comes after that, every search warrant that's obtain, every confession that's obtained, even every plea agreement that's entered into is likewise tainted or poisoned.
And the Supreme Court has weighed in on that and had said specifically in cases like U.S. v. Russell and Blackledge v. Perry that the vindictiveness of prosecutors can be that poison fruit for which you throw out the entire case.
So if this were in a court of law, that's the case that Donald Trump's lawyers would be making right now.
BARTIROMO: So do you think the special council should -- should finish?
RATCLIFFE: Well Maria, I have been one of the few republicans who has really not questioned the integrity of Bob Mueller. I have tried not to do that. But this, again, is not a reflection on Bob Mueller, this is a reflection on the evidence that he was handed.
For nine months, you have the most biased, hateful, prejudice people making the decisions, collecting the evidence, implementing the investigative plan. Listen, I've heard what Hillary Clinton has said about Donald Trump and I've read every text message that Peter Strzok and these others have said about Donald Trump.
I think if Hillary Clinton had been in charge of the Trump-Russia investigation, the level of bias and prejudice wouldn't have been any higher. So, those are things that Bob Mueller ultimately is going to have to persuade the American people.
You know, maybe he's a lot better lawyer than I am, but I was never able to stand in front of a jury and explain away, yes, the person in charge here hated the defendant, was biased and prejudiced against him. But none of that impacted the actions that he took in collecting the information.
RATCLIFFE: That's pretty tough to do.
BARTIROMO: We know that your colleagues have been asking for these documents from the Department of Justice, Congressman, and we have the latest letter from Devin Nunes, I have it in my hands, the chairman of the Intel Committee who was giving the DoJ and the FBI another deadline of tomorrow night, by 5:00.
And one of the questions that he asks is, did the FBI use informants against members or associates of the Trump campaign? And if so, how many informants were used and how much money was spent on their activities? And one of the issues that he's raising is, was there activity before the actual investigation launched in July of 2016?
Why is this such an important point? Why do you and your colleagues want to know if there was any activity in terms of spying on the Trump campaign before the actual launch of the investigation?
RATCLIFFE: Because we have been told hat there wasn't. Representations have been made to members of Congress and to the American people that this started in July -- on July 31st of 2016. That that's when all of this started. And so we made specific inquiry based on some reporting that has been out there that there were actually confidential human sources involved investigating the Trump campaign before the case was officially opened on July 31 st of 2016.
And so, you know, what we want are the documents that will establish that. What we want is a very clear answer from the FBI and the Department of Justice. And that's what we've gotten in the classified and unclassified responses that came in late on Friday night.
So Devin Nunes and other members are exactly right, that we deserve, as the elected representatives of the people with oversight of this, to get an answer to that question and to get it quickly.
Look, we don't want any drama. We want the documents and we want real clear answers from our own Justice officials. And so there's a lot of debate and discussion right now about if we don't get those, how quickly we move and what measures are taken, and against whom.
BARTIROMO: So, I want to see how high up the ladder this goes in the Obama administration, because I know that your committee has subpoenaed Peter Strzok and you're going to be questioning him next week, I'm going to get to that in a moment.
But let me take you back to a testimony by Michael Daniel, who was President Obama's cyber chief. And he was speaking before the Senate were he basically admitted that his boss told him to stand down on an investigation. Listen to this.
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BARTIROMO: So Susan Rice told Michael Daniel not to worry about Russia meddling in an election, Congressman?
RATCLIFFE: Well, as the chairman of the Cybersecurity Subcommittee on Homeland in the House, I've got to tell you I was so astonished to hear that testimony from Michael Daniel. Let me put it in context. On July 31st of 2016 you had the Obama administration initiating an aggressive investigation into the Trump campaign under the pretext or pretense that it's about national security and fear that the Trump campaign may be colluding with the Russians to interfere with our election.
A week later you have Obama administration officials telling our own cyber chief to stand down to any Russian efforts to respond to their efforts to interfere with our election. Those two positions are incongruous. And it raises a really fair question about whether the Trump investigation was really about national security or whether it was about a political agenda, especially when you layer on top of that who they assigned, Peter Strzok and a bunch of Trump-hating...
BARTIROMO: Peter Strzok.
RATCLIFFE: To investigate President Trump.
BARTIROMO: Keep it right there, Congressman.
RATCLIFFE: It's hard not to reach some dark conclusions.
BARTIROMO: Quick break, we'll be right back with more of this. Stay with us
BARTIROMO: Welcome back. We are back with Texas Congressman, former U.S. Attorney John Ratcliffe. Congressman, you made some great points in terms of that last segment. You, John, I know I rushed you out of the segment. We were up against a hard break.
RATCLIFFE: No, the point I was just trying to make is that when you put those two decisions that you really can't reconcile together, it's hard not to reach some dark conclusions about what the Obama administration's motivations were regarding the Trump-Russia investigation.
BARTIROMO: I've got to ask you about Peter Strzok and what you want to ask him. But let me ask you about Rosenstein, because Rod Rosenstein spent eight years in the Obama administration. That we know. He also was the same person who told President Trump you should fire Jim Comey. Then he turned around and he appointed special counsel Robert Mueller.
Then he signs off -- or before that, he signs off on a FISA renewal so that they could wiretap Carter Page. Should Rosenstein -- Rod Rosenstein recuse himself? Is he a witness, sir?
RATCLIFFE: Well, he's certainly a witness to the point of both the Mueller investigation, if it were to result in claims that the president obstructed justice, and he's certainly a witness with respect to whether or not there were any FISA abuses as someone that signed off on the last FISA renewal.
And, three, you've encapsulated this perfectly. The real challenge for lawmakers and the real question is when Rod Rosenstein is central to all of this, it fairly raises the question, look, when we're not getting the documents that we need or not getting them in a timely manner, is that because he's just doing his job and trying to protect the turf of the Department of Justice or is it because some of those documents may reflect negatively on senior members at the Department of justice and the FBI possibly to include himself?
BARTIROMO: Yes, which is why I keep bringing up the point that why did he just learn about the "we will stop him" text three seconds ago in the IG report when we know that that text was sent in August of 2016? Was somebody sitting on that text?
You have got Peter Strzok in front of your committee next week, what are you going to ask him?
RATCLIFFE: Well, Maria, as much as I like you and your viewers, I'm not about to tip off Peter Strzok because to the exact question that I have for him. I will say this, though, the challenge that he is going to have is he can't -- he doesn't just have to explain away one or two bad text messages. There are hundreds of hateful text messages that can't be taken out of context.
And how he explains those may impact his legal jeopardy and it may also impact the legal jeopardy of others like Jim Comey and Andy McCabe and Loretta Lynch and even John Brennan and James Clapper to the extent that it conflicts with sworn testimony that they've also given to members of Congress.
So he's a very important witness. And I'm looking forward to Wednesday.
BARTIROMO: So you think that whatever he said is going to have an impact on possibly Lisa Page, on John Brennan, on Clapper, on all of these other actors, Andrew McCabe.
RATCLIFFE: It's hard to see how it wouldn't. He is the central figure in both of these cases, in both of these investigations, and was involved on both the law enforcement side and on the intelligence side. So, you know, we have taken a lot of testimony from a lot of folks, and if his is inconsistent with that, it's going to raise more questions.
BARTIROMO: Congressman, good to see you this morning. Thanks so much.
RATCLIFFE: Thanks for having me, Maria.
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