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.
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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.
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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.