Devin Nunes, chairman of the House Intelligence Committee, made what has been described as a “somewhat curious trip” to London for the purpose of meeting with Britain’s top intelligence agencies. Meetings of this kind are generally fairly routine events for someone with Nunes’ billeting; however this time, things didn’t go as planned. Nunes didn’t get the dirt he was looking for. He didn’t even get a meeting, aside from the one where he was passed on to Madeleine Alessandri, the deputy national security adviser for Theresa May.
According to The Atlantic, Nunes expected to meet with top-ranking officials from MI5, MI6, and GCHQ for the purpose of gathering damaging information against Christopher Steele, a former British intelligence officer and the man responsible for creating the now famous Steel Dossier that has been haunting President Donald Trump. He wanted information on Steele’s service record and any pertinent information regarding his activities since leaving Her Majesty’s service.
He was also reported as wanting information regarding whether Britain’s intel agencies were aware of his assembling the dossier prior to it being made public, and anything related to meetings with U.S. Justice Department official Bruce Ohr. Nunes was expecting full cooperation, instead, he got a cold shoulder. Each agency denied him a meeting, and furthermore, denied to share any of the requested intelligence they may have had on him.
According to Slate, an official speaking on the terms of remaining anonymous, confirmed that Nunes was denied meetings, as well as why he was frozen out.
“Those meetings did not pan out. The people familiar with his trip [said] that officials at MI6, MI5, and GCHQ were wary of entertaining Nunes out of fear that he was ‘trying to stir up a controversy.”
Reuters also reported that Nunes was denied meetings, but said that British officials they contacted claimed they could not entertain him due to scheduling conflicts. While their explanation is being viewed as somewhat dubious by many political correspondents, it has been cited that it is the only diplomatic response for denying Nunes access to their intelligence agencies.
This is not the first time that Nunes or his staffers have met a brick wall from British intelligence agencies when requesting information on Steele or anything related to the dossier he compiled on Trump for Fusion GPS. Last year, two of his staffers were turned away in a similar manner. Natasha Bertrand of The Atlantic pointed out that what Nunes is seeking isn’t to aide the investigation into Trump, but those who are looking into his activities, and for the wrong reasons.
“Nunes, however, continues to focus his attention on the investigators themselves—all in the name, many argue, of protecting the president at all costs.”