Republican Rep. Chris Stewart asked a huffing Wolf Blitzer on Friday why he was avoiding discussing the contents of the memo from House Republicans alleging the FBI abused its power to spy on the Trump campaign.
Blitzer attempted to suck up a good portion of his interview with Stewart on CNN discussing the timing of the memo’s release, going on and on about Republicans’ decision not to immediately release a counter-memo from Democrats. Stewart engaged with him for a few minutes before asking, “Wolf, why are we talking about that, instead of talking about the contents of the memo?”
Blitzer was not deterred, and again outlined his problem with the vote against releasing the Democrat memo. Republicans on the intel committee, including Stewart, voted against immediately releasing the Democrats’ memo, saying they want to follow the same procedure and timing the release of their own memo entailed. Here’s the transcript of the exchange.
Stewart: “You’re going to be able to compare them side by side and draw your own conclusions.”
Blitzer: “So many of your colleagues … they say what you did, you voted against releasing the Democratic report, all of the Republicans did along strict party lines. You voted in favor of releasing the Republican report, congressman.”
Stewart: “No, that’s not true. We voted to release the Democratic report, we voted to release it to the House of Representatives.”
Blitzer: “Yeah, but not at the same time as the Republican — you wanted to hold off, you wanted it to go through what they call a scrubbing process. You voted in favor of releasing the Republican report right away. You didn’t vote in favor of releasing the Democratic report right away.”
Stewart: “Well, we went through the same process with both of them. But, Wolf, let me ask you this –”
Blitzer: “There were two votes. There were two votes, and they were both strictly along party lines.”
Stewart: “Wolf, why are we talking about that instead of talking about the contents of this memo?”
Blitzer: “Because the contents of the memo, congressman, the contents of the memo are being seen as political. Remember, Devin Nunes, the chairman of your committee, he was a member of the Trump transition team. He worked assertively on behalf of the president. He had to recuse himself at one point because he was too close to the White House. He was getting back-channel information. He himself had to remove himself. Mike Conaway, the number two Republican, had to take over. This is seen by a big chunk of the American public, congressman, as being a politicized moment in American history which you could have avoided by simply releasing both memos at the same time, which has always been the case.”
Stewart: “Okay look we can talk for all afternoon if you want about whether the memos are separated by a few days. Why aren’t we talking about what’s in these memos? Why aren’t we talking about whether the FBI abused their power? Why aren’t we talking about whether they were honest before the FISA courts? Did they present information? Did they tell the FISA courts that this dossier, that by the way the FBI director himself said was unverified and salacious, did they tell the FISA courts that? Did they tell the FISA court that this was nothing but a political hack job paid for by the Democrats and Hillary Clinton?”