Transcript: Rep. Adam Schiff on "Face the Nation," Feb. 11, 2018

Schiff on FBI and FISA warrant procedures

President Trump this week blocked the release of a memorandum prepared by Democrats on the House Intelligence Committee meant to rebut a memo released by Republicans that alleged surveillance abuses by the Justice Department. The White House said the Democrats' "rebuttal memo" included material that could harm national security if released, and sent it back to Capitol Hill with suggestions of material to remove in order for the White House to approve its release.

Rep. Adam Schiff of California is the top Democrat on the committee who oversaw the drafting of the rebuttal memo. He joined us Sunday to discuss Mr. Trump's decision to block its release and the state of the Russia investigation.

The following is a transcript of the interview with Schiff that aired Sunday, Feb. 11, 2018, on "Face the Nation."  

MAJOR GARRETT: And we're back with California Congressman Adam Schiff. He is the top Democrat on the Intelligence Committee and he joins us from as they say beautiful Burbank in California. Congressman, good morning.


MAJOR GARRETT: The president as you well know and as the nation has learned declined to release the memo that you and the staff of the House Intelligence Committee on the Democratic side drafted. The president tweeted about this, as I'm sure you're also well aware yesterday that we read that for the audience, "The Democrats sent a very political and long response memo which they knew, because of sources and methods (and more) would have to be heavily redacted, whereupon they would blame the White House for lack of transparency. Told them to re-do and send back in proper form!" Congressman was the memo improperly drafted and in bad form?

REP. ADAM SCHIFF: No of course not. And the hypocrisy of this just kind of reaches out and grabs you by the throat. Here the Republicans write a memo which the FBI quite accurately describes as misleading and omitting material facts. The Department of Justice says it would be extraordinarily reckless to release this. And what does the president do. He says I'm going to release it before I even read it 100 percent of it to release it. This is a president who puts his own personal interests above the national security interests of the country. Now they claim when they release the Republican memo that this was in the interest of full transparency and all the White House people were saying full transparency. Well apparently full transparency only goes so far. But look--

MAJOR GARRETT: Are their sources and methods problems with the memo you submitted?

REP. ADAM SCHIFF:We're going to sit down with the FBI and go through any concerns that they have and any legitimate concerns over sources and methods, we will redact.

MAJOR GARRETT: Did you do that before you submitted the memo, Congressman?

REP. ADAM SCHIFF: Yes we did. Yes we did. Unlike the Republicans we gave the FBI and the Department of Justice our memo even before we took it up into committee and invited their feedback as to any concerns over sources and methods. But what's really going on here, Major, 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. Their goal here is to put the FBI on trial, to put Bob Mueller's investigation on trial and the president is only too happy to accommodate. But the president doesn't want you to see these facts from the FISA application because it completely undermines his claim of vindication.


REP. ADAM SCHIFF: And. Yes, Major?

MAJOR GARRETT: Congressman, yes let me ask you about this because I think it's a very important threshold question outside of the very intense partisan atmosphere. You mentioned FISA twice for our audience Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act. These are specialized warrants, secret surveillance. Is it your representation to the nation, sir, that everything that the FBI did in the process of obtaining that surveillance warrant on Carter Page absolutely followed proper protocol, every evidentiary standard was met and there was nothing askew about that warrant ever?

REP. ADAM SCHIFF: Major, 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. Why didn't you specifically identify this? And the FBI could have said because we mask identities, as you would want us to mask identities. Well why didn't you reveal the political bias? And they could say we did reveal the political bias and here's where we revealed it. They didn't want to do that because they wanted to put out a very misleading memo. Now it's very important to look at what the FBI said about our rebuttal and what they didn't say. What they've said is that certain information in it is classified and of course that's true. The fact- all of the facts in the FISA application are classified, but the FBI never said that anything in our rebuttal was inaccurate. And that's also important because our memo does lay out the accurate facts which we think the public should see. Now we will redact it to make sure that we're very protective of sources and methods, but we think the public should see this because as the chairman has said, this is only the first phase. And to be fully accurate, Major, one last point. This is not the first phase. This is the second phase. The first phase began with that midnight run the chairman made to the White House where he misrepresented where he received information that he had in fact gotten from the White House. And here we see once again the chairman refusing to answer whether this whole memo was cooked up in concert with the White House and that's really the problem we're dealing with.

MAJOR GARRETT: Congressman, I know you've had your difficulties and your feuds with Chairman Nunes. Have you read the memo recently drafted by Charles Grassley, the senator from Iowa, and Lindsey Graham, Republican senator from South Carolina. Have you read that?

REP. ADAM SCHIFF: You know, I have read the different iterations of it because they put it through certain redaction reviews, but I can't claim to be intimately familiar with everything in the Grassley correspondence with DOJ.

MAJOR GARRETT: Because as you well know they are asserting that their memo is more detailed and more damning of the FBI than the Nunes memo. And this really is a central question. Did the FBI follow all proper procedures and if I heard you correctly, you said yes they did. There is nothing that the FBI did that was wrong in the Carter Page surveillance warrant, correct?

REP. ADAM SCHIFF: I think- I think they followed all the correct procedures. Yes. Everything I have seen they followed the correct procedures. I will say this in terms of the Grassley memorandum or the Grassley letter. It is part of the same effort along with the chairman of our committee to try to put the FBI and Bob Mueller's investigation on trial. It is a well-known defense tactic. When the facts look increasingly incriminating of your client, you try to put the government on trial. And what this of course detracts from is the investigation that we need to be conducting of what the Russians did, how they did it, the connections they had with the Trump campaign and most importantly how do we protect the country going forward. That's not the interest of this Grassley letter. That's not the interest obviously of Chairman Nunes, but that is what the national interest holds. And that's really what we need to pay attention to.

MAJOR GARRETT: Thank you very much for being with us I appreciate your time and we'll be right back. Please don't go away.