Democratic Response To The Nunes Memo
MICHEL MARTIN, HOST:
We're going to start the program today with the latest news about that memo you've surely heard about released yesterday by the Republican members of the House Intelligence Committee. Those members, as well as President Trump and his supporters, are saying that the memo represents evidence of bias on the part of the FBI leadership and others investigating the president. Meanwhile, Democrats and other observers, including a number of former law enforcement and intelligence officials, say the memo is just a misleading partisan document intended to undermine the investigation into Russian meddling in the 2016 election and the allegations that the Trump campaign was involved with those efforts.
The Democrats have written their own response to Nunes's memo, but that has not been approved for public release as of now. Congressman Jerrold Nadler has seen that Democratic response he tells us. He represents New York's 10th District and is the ranking Democrat on the House Judiciary Committee. And he's with us now. Congressman Nadler, thank you so much for speaking with us.
JERROLD NADLER: It's a pleasure.
MARTIN: Now the memo - the Nunes memo that we've been talking about argues that the FBI and Justice Department used a flawed process, even abused their surveillance powers to target the Trump campaign. Do you have information that refutes that?
NADLER: Well, the memo refutes itself for one thing. The Nunes memo argues that the original application for a FISA warrant to surveil someone named Carter Page was tainted because it didn't reveal to the judges and enough information about the Steele dossier, which was partly paid for by the Clinton campaign and was part of the evidence used to get the warrant. But that's all it really alleges. Now the problem with that is, No. 1, it doesn't say that the Steele - it doesn't show in any way what the other evidence placed before the court to get the warrant was. It doesn't allege in any way that there was anything wrong or inaccurate about the Steele dossier.
Second of all, it admits that the investigation had already started several months before because of other information. So this doesn't taint the investigation. Thirdly, it admits that three renewals of the warrant were granted later. And a grant of the - a renewal of the warrant can only be granted if you convince the court that the information from the warrant you've already had is showing more and more evidence that Page, in this case, is a foreign agent. So there's nothing there. And it certainly doesn't taint the investigation, which it has very little to do with.
MARTIN: I have a couple more things I wanted to get to before we have to let you go. First of all, can you just say with confidence that there was evidence - there was evidence - beyond the dossier that supported the government's request for the FISA warrant?
MARTIN: And also, after the Nunes memo was released, Democrats raised concerns that President Trump would use it as a pretext to fire Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein, who's overseeing the Russia probe. Earlier today, White House Deputy Secretary Raj Shah said that Mr. Rosenstein's job is, in fact, safe. So is that still a concern?
NADLER: Well, it is a concern because I don't believe anything that comes out of the White House. You know, we've seen them say that they never threatened Mueller, but we know that the president tried to fire Mueller and was stopped by his counsel. Now, the fact of the matter is that they have used this memo to throw mud against the FBI and against Rosenstein and everybody generally against the investigation, whereas, in fact, it shows that nothing - for instance, Rosenstein is mentioned in the memo only as having signed off on one of the warrant renewals, which would have occurred after the - well after the campaign was over and well after Page had left the campaign. So it has nothing to do with the campaign. And that had to be true because Rosenstein wasn't the deputy attorney general until all that was the case.
MARTIN: We have let you go at that point. I hope we'll talk again. That was Democratic Congressman Jerrold Nadler of New York. He's the ranking Democrat on the House Judiciary Committee. Congressman, thank you so much for speaking with us.
NADLER: You're quite welcome.
NPR transcripts are created on a rush deadline by an NPR contractor. This text may not be in its final form and may be updated or revised in the future. Accuracy and availability may vary. The authoritative record of NPR’s programming is the audio record.