Republican Rep. Jim Jordan debunked a bunch of Democratic talking points about the House Intelligence Committee memo from Republicans in a heated exchange with CNN’s Chris Cuomo on Wednesday.
Cuomo grilled Jordan on the declassified memo asserting the FBI and Department of Justice mishandled the FISA court system to obtain a warrant to spy on Trump campaign associate Carter Page, as well as the process for releasing a counter-memo from Democrats on the committee. Jordan responded to a number of Democrat criticisms of the memo Cuomo served up. Democrats are characterizing it as a misleading, dangerous, and partisan attempt from Republicans to discredit the federal Russia probe.
Here are five myths about the memo Jordan debunked in the segment.
1. The Democrat memo is going through a different process for release than the Republican memo is
President Trump indicated he would consider advice from the DOJ and intelligence community on whether to allow the House to release the Democrat memo, a move drawing criticism because he agreed to release the Republican memo over and against their concerns. But Jordan said the House followed the same procedure for the release of both memos.
Jordan: “The memo still has to go — whatever memo, Republican memo, Democrat memo — it still has to go through the same process. The people at the FBI and the DOJ still have to look at it for sources, methods, classified information, what may or may not need to be redacted.”
Cuomo: “You didn’t do that with the Nunes memo, you just sent it over to Christopher Wray for a weekend, you didn’t put it through the normal channels, Jim, you know that.”
Jordan: “It went to the White House and the same people looked at it to make sure, before it went public –”
Cuomo: “But that is a circumventing of the process. That’s a circumventing of the process. You were supposed to go through the intelligence community, not around it.”
Jordan: “No it’s not. This is the process that was laid out. House sees it. We call for it to be released. It then gets voted out of the committee, goes to the White House, they look at it and then, making sure no classified information is going to go public or what may be classified they’re okay with — it’s the same process.”
2. It doesn’t matter that Steele talked to the press and lied to the FBI
A central claim of the Republican memo is that the FBI continued renewing the warrant by staking the credibility of the dossier on author Christopher Steele’s history of credible work for the bureau, even after he violated the bureau’s trust by talking to the press, and despite the bureau’s knowledge he was “passionate” about electing Hillary Clinton president. The FBI also had reason to believe Steele lied about other contacts with the press, and kept all this from the FISA court. Cuomo asserted these are irrelevant to the dossier’s credibility, which Jordan called “ridiculous.”
Jordan: “He told the press he was working with the FBI.”
Cuomo: “That doesn’t make his material bad. Hey, if we didn’t rely on leaks, we would allow so much BS to get directly to the American people. We need the leaks, Jim. We can’t trust you guys to tell us the truth all the time.”
Jordan: “… Do you think it’s okay to go to that court and not fully disclose to the court the source of the main thing you used to get that warrant, who paid for it, how it was financed and not to tell them that the guy who wrote that document has been terminated by the FBI? Because he went out and broke a cardinal rule. He talked to the press and said he was working with the FBI, and they said you’re gone, but we’re still going to use your work product to get a secret warrant to spy on an American.”
Cuomo: “The second part is completely irrelevant. The way the guy conducted himself with respect to his relationship with the FBI … that’s irrelevant to the sustainability and the worth of his information. Now, as to the first point, what I find –”
Jordan: “If you can’t trust him to keep a basic rule in a contractual relationship working for you, if you can’t trust him for that, but you can still trust his work product? Come on, Chris. That’s ridiculous.”
3. Republicans chose not to read the FISA application the memo is based on
Democrats and journalists have repeatedly implied that Republicans who had the opportunity to read the FISA applications the memo is based on chose not to. Jordan reiterated that the FBI and DOJ agreed to allow only one member of the House intel committee to read the documents. That member then briefed the rest of the members on their contents.
Cuomo: “You don’t know any of this, Jim. You didn’t even read the application. You trusted [Republican Rep.] Trey Gowdy, who wants to resign rather than stay a part of this.”
Jordan: “No one has read the application, because they won’t let us do it. I asked [FBI Director] Christopher Wray, ‘Let us see the application.’ I asked him in committee two months ago, said show the whole world the application, we can clear this all up. They won’t show it to us.”
4. Republicans are trying to block the release of the Democrat memo
Democrats and the media have persistently said Republicans are trying to hold up the release of the Democrat responsememo, although they say they want it to come out and have voted to release the document, as Jordan notes.
Cuomo: “Now you snuck your facts through, but now you want all this vetting on the Democrat side, it just stinks.”
Jordan: “I want the Democrat memo to come out too, I’m all for it. I’ve said that transparency is a good thing. That’s why I asked for the transcripts of the applications, show us the FISA court application. I want to see it all. I want to see it all. I think it will definitely prove what was in the Republican memo. That’s what took place.”
5. Republicans are adversaries of the FBI and the Justice Department, and no longer represent the rule of law
Democrats and the media are spinning the Republican memo as a politically motivated attempt to undermine faith in the justice system, which signals a departure from their history of supporting law enforcement. Jordan maintained Republicans are calling out the potential abuses in order to restore faith in the agencies and to make sure the law is properly enforced.
Cuomo: “Your party has always represented rule of law as one of its pillars. You have to be careful about trying to undermine confidence the administration of justice in this country because it suits you politically.”
Jordan: “I agree completely. I agree completely. And that’s why I’m very concerned if top people at the FBI took a campaign document into a court to get a warrant to spy on an American associated with the other campaign. You’re exactly right. I think that undermines the rule of law and that’s what I’m concerned about.”