The Nunes memo is "directly misleading" and selective about the details it uses, says Rep. Adam Schiff, D-Calif., ranking member of the House Intelligence Committee and author of a Democratic memo. Schiff joins Judy Woodruff to combat Republican accusations of intelligence community bias around the Russia investigation.
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The author of that Democratic memo is Representative Adam Schiff of California, ranking member of the House Intelligence Committee.
I spoke with him just a short time ago.
Congressman Schiff, thank you very much for joining us.
You are one of the few people who has seen all the classified information that underlies this memo.
But what I want to ask you is criticism that essentially what we have here is FBI officials who relied on inadequate information, on what some people are calling circular news and rumors to put this request for surveillance together.
Rep. Adam Schiff, D-Calif.:
Yes, that's just not accurate.
And if you could read the entire FISA court application, you would see the body of evidence that they put before the FISA court. There are a number of things that are directly misleading in the Republican memo. And I think you alluded to one of them.
There is a suggestion, for example, that a Yahoo News article was used to corroborate Steele, when Steele was the source of the article. That's not at all how the article was used in the application.
So this is selectively pulled out and presented in a misleading way. The application also had a lot of other information about Carter Page that this doesn't discuss. And you can see also in the discussion they do include about George Papadopoulos, that is also misleading, suggesting that, if they couldn't show conspiracy between Papadopoulos and Page, Papadopoulos information wasn't properly before the court.
In fact, it was directly relevant because the Russians made an approach to Papadopoulos to offer to suggest they had stolen e-mails of Hillary Clinton and were interested in a relationship with the campaign.
And, similarly, the Russians made an approach to Carter Page. Both of them were foreign policy advisers for Donald Trump, so very relevant for the FISA court. But you can cherry-pick information from any application and mislead people. And that's what's been done here.
Congressman, as you know, one of the main points Republicans are making is that this memo proves that there was political bias at work inside the FBI when they were seeking to pursue this investigation.
Rep. Adam Schiff:
Yes, they make that accusation. They suggest in the beginning of the memo that this shows some systemic abuse, some politically motivated abuse, but they don't show evidence of that.
The suggestion is that because they didn't include certain things in the application, it must have been because they had a corrupt motivation, when the reality is that some of these claims are simply untrue. And in the context of the full application, you can see just how untrue they are.
They make statements, for example, about not disclosing the political bias or that a political actor may have been involved in supporting Christopher Steele's work. That also misstates what's in the application. Now, we hope our own response will be made public soon, so that the public can see a more complete picture, but even we are not publishing the entire FISA application.
This is just not how oversight is supposed to happen. What should have happened here, Judy, if we were serious about oversight, is, you invite the FBI in. You say, did you include this? And if you didn't include this, what was the reason why?
You give them a chance to answer.
Here, when we asked that the FBI come before our committee, the chairman said, no, I don't want the committee members to hear from the FBI.
That isn't oversight. That's a political hit job by the selective publication of misleading information.
In the end, Congressman, Republicans also say that this will not do damage to the work of the FBI, it is simply an effort to look after what Americans cherish in their civil liberties.
Rep. Adam Schiff:
Well, of course that's not true.
The whole point of it is to do damage to the FBI and damage to the Mueller investigation. Again, if they were serious about this being oversight, and not just designed to undermine the investigation, they would have brought these agencies before the committee. That's what we do whenever we do oversight.
And they certainly wouldn't publish one memo, and not the other. If they were really interested in transparency, they would have been transparent.
No, the goal here is to try to distract attention away from what the Russians did and what the Trump campaign may have done in combination with the Russians.
Congressman Adam Schiff, representing the House Intelligence Committee, Congressman, I know we're going to be wanting to talk to you more on this in the days to come.