Top Intelligence Committee Democrat says release of Nunes memo is an attempt to 'circle the wagons around the White House'
- Rep. Adam Schiff, the ranking Democrat on the House Intelligence Committee, attacked the release of a controversial memo from Rep. Devin Nunes, the Republican chair of the committee.
- The memo purports to show an overreach by the Department of Justice in obtaining authorization to surveil Carter Page, a former Trump campaign aide, as part of the Russia investigation.
- Schiff said that the memo was simply an attempt to "circle the wagons around the White House and insulate the President."
- Schiff also said that the memo left out key details from the DOJ's investigation and that it was an attempt to discredit the intelligence agencies.
Rep. Adam Schiff, the ranking Democrat on the House Intelligence Committee, blasted the release of a memo from Rep. Devin Nunes, the Republican chairman of the committee.
The memo purports to show abuses by the Department of Justice (DOJ) in obtaining authorization to surveil Carter Page, a former campaign aide to President Donald Trump, as part of the investigation into ties between Trump's campaign and Russian officials.
Schiff said that the memo was a partisan attempt to undermine the investigation in an attempt to protect Trump and other members of the campaign and did not include key information from the DOJ and FBI.
"The sole purpose of the Republican document is to circle the wagons around the White House and insulate the President," Schiff said in a statement after the memo's release. "Tellingly, when asked whether the Republican staff who wrote the memo had coordinated its drafting with the White House, the Chairman refused to answer."
Read the memo:
The FBI and DOJ both opposed the release of the memo because the agencies say that the memo leaves out key facts and misinterprets findings from the investigation.
"As the DOJ emphasized to Chairman Nunes, the decision to employ an obscure and never before used House rule to release classified information without DOJ and FBI vetting was 'extraordinarily reckless'," Schiff said. "The selective release and politicization of classified information sets a terrible precedent and will do long-term damage to the Intelligence Community and our law enforcement agencies."
The memo attempts to undermine the FBI and DOJ's surveillance of Page by alleging that surveillance powers were sought using the controversial dossier compiled by former British intelligence agent Christopher Steele.
The memo goes on to point out that Steele received funding that was linked to the Democratic National Committee and these partisan ties were not included in the DOJ's request for surveillance.
But Schiff said in his statement that the memo's contents do not reflect the fact that the FBI's investigation into the Trump campaign's ties with Russia was triggered not by Page or the dossier but rather by another Trump campaign volunteer, George Papadopoulos. From Schiff's response:
"The authors of the GOP memo would like the country to believe that the investigation began with Christopher Steele and the dossier, and if they can just discredit Mr. Steele, they can make the whole investigation go away regardless of the Russians’ interference in our election or the role of the Trump campaign in that interference. This ignores the inconvenient fact that the investigation did not begin with, or arise from Christopher Steele or the dossier, and that the investigation would persist on the basis of wholly independent evidence had Christopher Steele never entered the picture."
In the end, Schiff said the memo reflects poorly not only on Nunes but also Republican leadership for endorsing the release of the memo.
"It is a terrible lapse in leadership that Speaker Ryan failed to intervene and prevent the abuse of classified materials in this way," Schiff said. "It is tragic, if all too predictable, that this President would allow the release of the memo despite FBI and DOJ’s expressions of ‘grave concerns about material omissions of fact that fundamentally impact the [Republicans'] memo's accuracy.'"
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