Rep. Trey Gowdy says GOP memo doesn’t discredit Mueller probe

Rep. Trey Gowdy refuted President Trump’s claim that a controversial GOP-penned memo vindicates him in special counsel Robert Mueller’s sweeping Russia probe.

Gowdy (R-S.C.) drew the line between the former FBI chief’s Russia investigation and the memo’s assertion that the Justice Department relied too much on a highly scrutinized dossier to get a surveillance warrant.

“There is a Russia investigation without a dossier,” Gowdy, who sits on the House Intelligence Committee, said on CBS News’ “Face the Nation” in an interview that airs Sunday.

The memo, which was released Friday, alleged the DOJ relied heavily on a highly scrutinized dossier to eavesdrop on former Trump campaign advisor Carter Page under the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA).

Research for the dossier, compiled by British ex-spy Christopher Steele, was partially financed by the Democratic National Committee and the Clinton campaign.

RELATED: People reportedly interviewed in Robert Mueller's Russia probe

People reportedly interviewed in Robert Mueller's Russia probe
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People reportedly interviewed in Robert Mueller's Russia probe

U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions 

(Photo by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)

Former FBI Director James Comey

(REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst)

Former White House Chief of Staff Reince Priebus

(REUTERS/Joshua Roberts)

Former White House press secretary Sean Spicer

(REUTERS/Kevin Lamarque)

White House Director of Strategic Communications Hope Hicks

(Photo by Jabin Botsford/The Washington Post via Getty Images)

Trump advisor Stephen Miller

(REUTERS/Kevin Lamarque)

President Trump's son-in-law and senior advisor Jared Kushner 


Don McGahn, general counsel for the Trump transition team

(Photo by Drew Angerer/Getty Images)

Christopher Steele, the former MI6 agent who compiled the reported Trump dossier 

(Photo by Victoria Jones/PA Images via Getty Images)

Sam Clovis, a former member of the Trump campaign

(Photo by Win McNamee/Getty Images)

CIA Director Mike Pompeo

Gowdy said the warrant wouldn’t have been approved without the memo.

"Well I'm actually in a really small group, I think, of Republicans that think that this FISA process is suspect and wrong and should not have taken place,” said Gowdy, who reviewed the FISA warrants. “But you still have a Russia investigation even without it.”

Trump declared victory Saturday, arguing the memo’s findings “ “totally vindicates ‘Trump’ in probe.”

He argued the Republican document put a damper on any findings by Mueller’s probe, which is looking into possible collusion with Russia and obstruction of justice.

But Gowdy said the dossier didn’t have anything to do with potential obstruction of justice charges in Mueller’s investigation.

He also said it in no way led to the conviction of George Papadopoulos, the onetime Trump campaign adviser. He pleaded guilty last year to misleading FBI agents about conversations he had with officials tied to the Kremlin.

And Gowdy added Steele’s document had “nothing to do” with the meeting at Trump Tower between Donald Trump Jr. and a Russian lawyer.

RELATED: Putting the Trump-Russia timeline into perspective

Putting the Trump-Russia timeline into perspective
See Gallery
Putting the Trump-Russia timeline into perspective
June 7: The 2016 primary season essentially concludes, with both Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton as the presumptive party nominees
June 9: Donald Trump Jr. — along with Jared Kushner and former campaign chair Paul Manafort — meets with Kremlin-connected lawyer Natalia Veselnitskaya.
June 9: Trump tweets about Clinton's missing 33,000 emails
July 18: Washington Post reports, on the first day of the GOP convention, that the Trump campaign changed the Republican platform to ensure that it didn't call for giving weapons to Ukraine to fight Russian and rebel forces
July 21: GOP convention concludes with Trump giving his speech accepting the Republican nomination
July 22: WikiLeaks releases stolen emails from the Democratic National Committee
July 25: Democratic convention begins
July 27: In final news conference of his 2016 campaign, Trump asks Russia: "If you're listening, I hope you're able to find the 30,000 emails that are missing"
August 4: Obama CIA Director John Brennan confronts his Russian counterpart about Russia's interference. "[I] told him if you go down this road, it's going to have serious consequences, not only for the bilateral relationship, but for our ability to work with Russia on any issue, because it is an assault on our democracy," Brennan said on "Meet the Press" yesterday.
October 4: WikiLeaks' Julian Assange says his organization will publish emails related to the 2016 campaign
October 7: WikiLeaks begins releasing Clinton Campaign Chair John Podesta's emails
October 7: Department of Homeland Security and the Director of National Intelligence release a statement directly saying that Russia is interfering in the 2016 election
October 31: "This WikiLeaks is like a treasure trove," Trump says on the campaign trail
November 4: "Boy, I love reading those WikiLeaks," Trump says from Ohio.

The June 2016 rendezvous was initially proposed so the lawyer could present dirt on the Clinton campaign, and was also attended by the President’s son-in-law, Jared Kushner, and then-campaign chair Paul Manafort.

“Look, Russia tried to interfere with our election in 2016 with or without a dossier,” Gowdy told CBS News. “So you need an investigation into Russia.”

And while Gowdy trashed how the warrant was presented, he backed Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein, who reportedly signed off on it last spring.

“I’ve had my differences with Rod Rosenstein and I still think that he is fully capable of helping run a Justice Department that we can all have confidence in,” Gowdy said.

Gowdy, who announced he won’t seek re-election later this year, is the latest Republican lawmaker to highlight a difference between the dossier and the broader Russia probe.

But Democrats have sought to discredit the claims Republicans as “deliberately misleading and deeply wrong on the law.”

The effort is led by Rep. Jerrold Nadler (D-N.Y.), who drafted a six-page rebuke to the memo that was obtained by NBC News.

Nadler, the ranking member on the House Judiciary Committee, argued the memo “provides no credible basis whatsoever” to fire Rosenstein.

Steele’s credibility as a longtime agent with specialties in the Kremlin would’ve also superseded the interest of his financial backers, Nadler’s response said.

And the memo didn’t show the government lacked enough evidence to get the FISA warrant, and accused Republicans of being “part and parcel to an organized effort to obstruct” to the investigation.

Gowdy, speaking to CBS News, said the warrant leaned on the dossier, a Yahoo News story and additional details provided to FISA judges.

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