WATCH: Rep. Devin Nunes explains why he pushed for the memo release
WASHINGTON (Sinclair Broadcast Group) - Rep. Devin Nunes (R- Calif.) sat down with national correspondent Kristine Frazao to explain the reasons behind his push to release a congressional memo to the public alleging surveillance abuses by the intelligence community.
Below is a transcript of what he had to say:
A LOT OF PEOPLE HAVE SAID THIS WAS RELEASED FOR POLITICAL REASONS, AND SOME HAVE SAID, NO, IT’S FOR TRANSPARENCY. WHAT DO YOU SAY?
It’s pretty clear that the American people have a right to know if there are FISA abuses. So if someone, if an American is being spied on, using foreign intelligence capabilities of the USA and it’s wrong, and we discover that - we have to expose it. This is not somewhere where we wanted to go, but if the American people don’t understand these capabilities, they’re not going to have trust in our intelligence community.
And so, if you look at what happened throughout this, it’s really clear: You had one campaign, the Hillary Clinton campaign, working in conjunction with the Democratic National Committee - dug up dirt on Donald Trump that was phony dirt, gave it to the FBI who then opened an investigation. A counterintelligence investigation using our intelligence agencies to spy on American citizen.
It’s really that simple.
SO DO YOU BELIEVE IT WAS THIS DIRT/OPPOSITION RESEARCH THAT WAS THE CAUSE OF GETTING THE WARRANT?
Well we know that now we’ve always known it on the House side. The mainstream media has tried to deflect, tried to obfuscate. But now we know from the release last night of the Grassley letter confirms everything that’s in our memo. So now you have a Senate product that was a criminal referral to the Dept. of Justice matched up with the memo that we put together; they both say the same thing.
THE PROCESS OF GETTING A FISA WARRANT, SOUNDS LIKE THEY WOULD NEED TO CONFIRM SOME OF THE ALLEGATIONS - THEY WOULDN’T JUST TAKE THIS DOSSIER AND USE THAT.
The challenge is that they presented it - I don’t believe it’s the court that’s the problem. What happened is the FBI presented the dossier as if it was true. And then they used a news article to corroborate this dossier - the dirt - but what they didn’t say is that Steele, who wrote this, also briefed the reporters.
So you basically have a - and Steele was hired by the Hillary campaign.
And that’s the bottom line.
YOU DON’T THINK THE FBI WOULD HAVE TO CONFIRM WHAT WAS IN THE DOSSIER?
They absolutely should confirm. But they - well, either they didn’t know - which would be bad - or they did know and they lied to the court.
DO YOU THINK THERE WOULD HAVE BEEN A WARRANT WITHOUT THE DOSSIER?
There would not have been. We know that from the FBI themselves.
WASN’T THE FBI SURVEILLING CARTER PAGE BEFORE THE DOSSIER EXISTED?
This is really bad stuff that’s leaking. A lot of this comes from a court case where there were Russians who were prosecuted in New York. And Carter Page cooperated with the FBI. And in fact, the way that they were able to prove the Russians had a spy ring in the United States - is that the Russians actually said that they thought Carter Page was an idiot and wasn’t worth recruiting.
And the DOJ used that in court. So it’s perfectly clear that - was Carter Page was on the FBI’s radar? Well ya, because Carter Page cooperated with the FBI.
I don’t agree with Carter page or I don’t agree with most Americans - or any Americans who think that Vladimir Putin is a guy we can trust and work with. I don’t think that’s the case. In fact, I warned about it in early 2016.
However, it’s still not the - you still can not allow - if American people want to think Vladimir Putin’s OK - that’s their prerogative. They’re free to do that. It’s part of living in a free and open society. We can agree to disagree. But they have the right to think what they think without being spied on, and to be able to say out in public what they think about Vladimir Putin.
But when the FBI actually goes to that American citizen and that American citizen cooperates with the FBI, then that information is used in a court proceeding to help bust the Russians, it’s really disingenuous to put out fake information that Carter Page is some kind of Russian superspy that needed to be monitored by the government.
The reality is - he was a low-level person, volunteer on the Trump campaign and the FBI went to the FISA court so they could read all of his emails and get his information.
THE FBI PRESENTED THIS OPPOSITION RESEARCH. DID THEY OR DID THEY NOT DISCLOSE WHERE THAT RESEARCH WAS COMING FROM? DID THEY DISCLOSE THAT STEELE WAS BEING PAID BY ANOTHER POLITICAL PARTY?
Ya so what they did is they - I believe they did even worse.
So they knew that the Democrats and the Hillary campaign funded it. And that should have been front and center before a court.
If I’m a judge, and I think all American citizens can agree, if you’re going to go to a secret court and get a warrant on a campaign- the first thing they ought to be clear about is ‘hey judge, I just want to let you know the other campaign paid for this. I think all Americans should understand that.
BUT DIDN’T THEY TELL THE FBI THAT IN THE FISA COURT/APPLICATION?
They actually went to great lengths to not tell anyone that the Democrats had paid for this, and the Hillary campaign paid for this.
They went to such great lengths, that they developed, there’s a footnote that’s still classified, but it’s buried way deep - that you’d have to do you’d have to basically come up with - you’d have to do word math to try to put it all together to try to come up with that.
It’s basically designed - what I believe - to disguise the fact that the Democrats and the Hillary campaign paid for the dossier.
DO YOU THINK THAT THE TRANSCRIPTS OF THE FISA COURT PROCEEDINGS AND THE APPLICATION FOR THE WARRANT SHOULD NOW BE MADE PUBLIC?
It is a very dangerous place to go because you will be releasing sources and methods. However, if something isn’t done about this, there’s going to have to be a lot of things done. The FISA court needs to hold some of these folks in contempt. Which they can do.
WHO DO YOU THINK THEY SHOULD BE HOLDING IN CONTEMPT?
They’d have to do a whole investigation to determine who lied. Right? I mean they basically lied to the court. So that’s their problem to figure out. I don’t get involved in the Judicial Branch of government but there should be something done there. I think that would give some faith to the American people that the court is actually taking action against the DOJ and FBI.
But here, on the Legislative Branch of government, we need to do our oversight role, and ultimately, we’re going to have to determine who’s going to investigate the investigators. So I find it very difficult to believe that the DOJ and FBI are going to be able to run this investigation themselves into everything that happened here. Because remember - this is only phase one of this investigation dealing with FISA abuse. There’s much much more to come.
DO YOU THINK THAT WE CAN TRUST THE FBI?
Absolutely you can trust the FBI.
In fact, the FBI, The rank and file people - I’ve spoke to current agents, their spouses, retired agents, all of them that I’ve spoke to - because they call my office, they come by. They’re thanking us. They’re thanking the House and the Intelligence Committee for what we’ve exposed. And they’re really disappointed in the leadership at the FBI.
And that goes back to - not the current leadership - not with Director Wray. So it goes to the past leadership.
I think it was only a few people at the very top that did this, and they need to be held accountable.
WHAT’S NEXT? SPECIAL PROSECUTOR?
Well, we need to continue to conduct our investigation. I’d like to see Attorney General Sessions come up with some plan on how to move forward. But if they can’t come up with a plan as we continue to investigate and provide oversight - see Congress, we don’t have a way to prosecute. But there will come a problem when we issue a criminal referral and it’s not acted upon.
You’re seeing that right now.
Sen. Grassley sent a criminal referral against Christopher Steele. Who’s Christopher Steele? Christopher Steele is the person the Hillary campaign and the Democrats hired to dig up dirt on the president that then used to go and spy on the Trump campaign.
They’ve sent a criminal referral over on Christopher Steele because he clearly lied to the FBI. And so, but we’re not seeing any action on that. And this is a slam-dunk case that Christopher Steele lied to the FBI which is a crime.
And the irony that other people get busted for much less - including some people involved in this whole case for lying to the FBI, and you’re not going after the person who provided the dirt in the first place is really problematic.
ARE THERE MORE MEMOS COMING?
Well I think people get confused about the memo.
What this memo was - is it was only on FISA abuse. And we had no way to get the information out because the DOJ and FBI were hiding it nearly for a year. Right? So we had to subpoena, we had multiple subpoenas, multiple meetings. Finally we moved to hold them in contempt around the first of January. We did everything we could to finally get the information, and it all was not good for the DOJ and FBI the people who were holding it from Congress.
So we knew that they were not going to make this information public. So we had to use a process in the House rules that allowed us to make this information public. I hope that is the last time.
This process has never been used before. And we don’t it to be used again. So that aside, the investigation continues, and we will continue to do our work in terms of making that information available to the public, just probably not through the memo process that is now so popular.
DO YOU THINK THE PRESIDENT SHOULD AUTHORIZE THE RELEASE OF THE DEMOCRATIC MEMO?
Ya, I mean, it’s loaded with sources and methods. If those are stripped out of it, I mean there’s really no problem with it. And there’s other information and you asked me earlier about the application before the court A lot of the contents of that should be released, however the whole package itself I think would be problematic to release.
THERE WERE A LOT OF WARNINGS FROM THE FBI/DOJ TO NOT RELEASE THE MEMO BECAUSE OF THE DANGER IT POSED TO NATIONAL SECURITY. DO YOU THINK THAT HAPPENED?
I think what happened is that this was a lesson I think for the American people to understand to what length the DOJ and FBI along with the media - who have had this narrative for many many months - that the FBI DOJ were doing everything right. And I think now the American people know, that was basically two weeks that I had to endure of nonsense about me supposedly releasing classified information that was going to harm national security.
I was being attacked relentlessly by the media, by the DOJ, by the FBI - the leadership there. And at the end of the day it was all phony. There’s nothing there.
The sad part is, is that the media who said those things - there’s no mea culpa right? Now they move it from ‘oh this is going to destroy national security’ to ‘oh there’s nothing to see here. Don’t look here.’
SOME MEDIA SAYING BECAUSE YOU WENT TO THE WHITE HOUSE AND MET WITH THE PRESIDENT, THAT HE HAD A HAND IN CRAFTING THIS MEMO. IS THAT TRUE?
Ya so what they’re doing is they’re conflating two different stories.
That is a story they ignored also.
So back in April we discovered that members in the president’s transition team were being unmasked and then leaked to the press. OK? So they were picked up in intelligence products, unmasked and leaked - which is a felony.
It had nothing to do with Russia.
So at that point I found that out, I did my job. I actually went out to brief the press. I held a press conference - said ‘hey I’m going to the White House.’
I went to the White House, briefed the president on what I found - which I think is only appropriate because it happened to him and his transition team.
Then I went outside the White House and held another press conference so that I was being totally transparent.
And I was just criticized. You know, you get criticized when you’re transparent in this town. Because I think it’s a swampy place and it relies on leaks.
I don’t leak, and so therefore the press doesn’t like me. Which is fine. I think at the end of the day, there’s good people like yourselves that I’ll continue to talk to - but those that wrote total fake news stories, until they correct those stories I’m not really going to talk to them.
SO THERE’S NO CONNECTION WITH THAT WHITE HOUSE MEETING AND THE MEMO?
No. First of all, that was months and months and months ago. In fact, I haven’t spoke to the president. The last time I spoke to the president was when the Ways and Means Committee went over there when we introduced the tax reform bill last fall was the last time I spoke to the president and that was just a quick hello.