Top Democrat offers a simple explanation that undercuts Republicans' central argument that the FBI acted illegally
- Rep. Adam Schiff offered a simple explanation for why the main argument of the controversial memo authored by Rep. Devin Nunes doesn't make sense.
- Schiff argued that warrants frequently utilize unverified information as probable cause to launch an investigation.
- President Donald Trump released Schiff's rebuttal memo to Nunes' memo on Saturday.
The ranking member of the House Intelligence Committee Rep. Adam Schiff explained why the GOP memo's central claim — that law enforcement agencies improperly obtained a surveillance warrant for one of Trump'sR campaign associates — doesn't add up.
It was Schiff's first public appearance since President Donald Trump released the Democratic rebuttal to Rep. Devin Nunes's controversial memo on Saturday.
Trump declassifies Nunes memo:
The Nunes memo, which Trump released in early February, claims that the FBI and the Justice Department illegally obtained a surveillance warrant for the Trump campaign's former foreign policy adviser, Carter Page, by relying solely on the as-of-yet uncorroborated Trump-Russia dossier written by former British spy Christopher Steele.
Many proponents of Nunes' claims, including Trump himself, have derided the dossier and its explosive allegations.
"'House votes on controversial FISA ACT today.' This is the act that may have been used, with the help of the discredited and phony Dossier, to so badly surveil and abuse the Trump Campaign by the previous administration and others?" Trump tweeted last month.
But Schiff, who authored the newly released response to Nunes, told host Jake Tapper on CNN's "State of the Union" Sunday that the use of the dossier wasn't at all improper. He explained that if the FBI had proof of people committing crimes, they wouldn't need FISA warrants.
"There has been a lot made about the fact that some of the Steele reporting at the time it was included was uncorroborated," Schiff told Tapper. "That’s true of almost every warrant application. If search warrant applications and criminal wiretap applications and FISA court applications could only rely on things that were proven and verified, you’d have very few of them."
He continued: "Part of the reason to get the application is seeking proof when you have probable cause that crime may be committed, or that someone may be acting as an agent of a foreign power."
Attacks on Schiff and his memo
Schiff's memo clarifying the allegations made in the Nunes memo was initially sent back to the House Intelligence Committee for redactions before Trump cleared its release on Saturday.
Trump tweeted his displeasure at the memo shortly after unsealing it.
"The Democrat memo response on government surveillance abuses is a total political and legal BUST. Just confirms all of the terrible things that were done. SO ILLEGAL!" the president tweeted.
In addition to disparaging the Democratic memo, Trump has also personally attacked Schiff in the past several weeks.
"Finally, Liddle’ Adam Schiff, the leakin’ monster of no control, is now blaming the Obama Administration for Russian meddling in the 2016 Election," Trump tweeted last week. "He is finally right about something. Obama was President, knew of the threat, and did nothing. Thank you Adam!"
After Trump continued to lambaste Schiff on TV Saturday night, the California Democrat shot back in a tweet of his own.
"Wait a minute, Mr. President. Am I a phony, or sleazy, a monster or little? Surely you know the key to a good playground nickname is consistency," Schiff tweeted. "I thought you were supposed to be good at this."
- 'Political and legal BUST': Trump comes out swinging against Schiff's Democratic rebuttal memo
- Democrats release their declassified rebuttal memo — here are the key points, how it compares to the Nunes memo, and what matters
- Devin Nunes asked Russian bots to help make an article discrediting the Russia investigation 'go viral'