In the wake of the House Intelligence Committee's release of a GOP-crafted memo alleging surveillance abuses by the Department of Justice, Rep. Adam Schiff, D-California, is defending the FBI for its conduct in seeking a Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) warrant against. The warrant issued by the FISA court authorized surveillance of Page, one of several Trump campaign associates who have been under scrutiny by the FBI and lawmakers investigating Russian meddling in the 2016 presidential election.
"There's nothing askew about that warrant that I can see. And if the Republicans were really concerned about this, because everything that I have seen the FBI acted completely appropriately, they would have invited the FBI before a committee as I urged them to do and asked them questions," said Schiff, ranking member on the House Intelligence Committee.
Page's contacts with Russian spies had raised concerns among federal investigators long before he joined the 2016 campaign, law enforcement and congressional sources have said. According to the memo released by the committee's GOP majority, the FBI applied for a surveillance warrant on Page in September 2016 and obtained four renewals. Chairman Devin Nunes sought to connect the FISA applications to the so-called "Trump dossier," the unconfirmed report compiled by an ex-British spy detailing alleged ties between President Trump and Russia.
Schiff prepared a "rebuttal memo" in response to Nunes' document. However, theallow the release of the Democrats' memo. In a letter to Nunes, White House counsel Don McGahn wrote that the president was "unable" to declassify the memo because it contained "numerous properly classified and especially sensitive passages."
The president later said in a tweet that the memo was "very political."
TheJustice Department officials would provide technical assistance "should the committee wish to revise the February 5th memorandum to mitigate the risks identified by the Department."
Schiff disputed the president's claims that Democrats acted in bad faith when crafting their memo, saying "the hypocrisy of this just kind of reaches out and grabs you by the throat."
He added, "What's really going on here... is the president doesn't want the public to see the underlying facts. What is revealed in our memo are quotations from the very FISA application that really demonstrate just how misleading the Republicans have been."
Schiff added that the Democrats' memo undermines the president's claims of "vindication" and argued that Republicans' goal is to "put the FBI on trial, to put Bob Mueller's investigation on trial and the president is only too happy to accommodate."