Rep. Devin Nunes (R-CA), the chairman of the House Intelligence Committee and author of the so-called “Nunes memo,” said Friday that the document was just one phase of his investigation into the probe of Russian election meddling in the 2016 election.
“This completes just the FISA abuse portion of our investigation,” he told Fox News’ Bret Baier on Friday, after his brief and widely-panned memo was declassified by President Donald Trump.
Republicans had claimed the document would show serious wrongdoing and anti-Trump bias within the FBI and Justice Department. The reality was dramatically different.
“We are in the middle of what I call phase two of our investigation,” Nunes continued, “which involves other departments, specifically the State Department and some of the involvement they had in this.”
“That investigation is ongoing and we continue to work toward finding answers and asking the right questions to try to get to the bottom of what exactly the State Department was up to in terms of this Russian investigation.”
Nunes was defiant in the interview, calling Democrats who had criticized the memo as misleading liars, and asserting at one point that he didn’t think “somebody like” former Trump campaign aide Carter Page — the surveillance warrant for whom was the memo’s primary focus — “should be a target of the FBI.”
“I don’t know what the FBI agent, what they were smoking that [they] would think that Carter Page, who hasn’t had a job for many years, who is obviously a Russian sympathizer, but that somehow the Russians, who actually said he was an idiot in court testimony — this was presented before the court — so Russian agents said that Carter Page was an idiot,” he said before referencing one of the Steele dossier’s claims. “Do you think that the Russians were going to offer him a 19 percent share of the major oil company in Russia? I mean, this is crazy. So when somebody first reads that dossier, I would think you would come away from that and think, this is wild stuff.”
Nunes dismissed specific criticisms made by Democrats and contradicted a previous vote he cast to block the release of a Democratic counter-memo that Democrats claim would paint a more complete picture of the FISA warrant to surveil Page.
“Yeah, we will” vote to release Democrats’ memo, he said, “but it has to go through the same process.”
He said it was “hard to say” when that would be, as “we’re going to have to go through and scrub it again.”
Democrats have charged that it was misleading for Nunes to claim in his memo that the Steele dossier “formed an essential part of the Carter Page FISA application,” and specifically objected to the memo’s claim that outgoing FBI Deputy Director Andrew McCabe told the House Intelligence Committee “no surveillance warrant would have been sought” without the Steele dossier’s information.
Nunes said of that assertion: “Yeah, I mean it’s a summation of a long interview, and that is definitely what he said, not to mention we have other witnesses who said similar things.”
Baier asked why Nunes wouldn’t simply release the transcript of McCabe saying as much.
“Well that would be a whole process that we’d have to go through,” Nunes said. “I wouldn’t mind doing that, but we’d have to go through a whole process to release transcripts.”
“They wouldn’t have received a warrant without the dossier,” he said, adding: “The largest percentage of the entire application has to do with the dossier and then using the news story to corroborate the dossier.”
Baier then played a clip of House Intelligence Committee member Rep. Eric Swalwell (D-CA) claiming that it “was disclosed to the FISA court that part of the evidence was from a politically-motivated source.”
“These guys tell so many lies, you can’t keep track of them,” Nunes said of that claim, adding later: “I don’t believe that happened at all.”