Multiple Republican members of the House Intelligence Committee disagreed, in interviews aired Sunday, with President Donald Trump’s assertion the previous day that the release of the so-called Nunes memo “totally vindicates” the him.
The memo, written by committee Republicans and authorized for release by Trump, asserts among other things that the FBI and Justice Department improperly used a document funded by the Clinton campaign and the DNC — via a research firm hired by a law firm — in the application for a warrant to surveil former Trump campaign aide Carter Page.
The memo does not actually fully support that claim, though Republicans on the House Intelligence Committee continued over the weekend to complain of abuses they said the memo had revealed. (Democrats allege the memo outlines nothing improper and many insist it is a deliberately misleading document.)
Still, four House Intelligence Committee Republicans distanced themselves from the President’s assertion in Sunday show interviews.
“I actually don’t think it is has any impact on the Russia probe,” Rep. Trey Gowdy (R-SC) began in an interview on CBS News’ “Face the Nation” aired Sunday.
“And I was pretty integrally involved in the drafting of it,” he added, referring to his status as one of a small handful in Congress to have seen the underlying materials on which Nunes’ memo is based (Nunes himself didn’t). “There is a Russia investigation without a dossier. So to the extent the memo deals with the dossier and the FISA process, the dossier has nothing to do with the meeting at Trump Tower. The dossier has nothing to do with an email sent by Cambridge Analytica.”
“The dossier really has nothing to do with George Papadopoulos’ meeting in Great Britain,” he continued. “It also doesn’t have anything to do with obstruction of justice. So there’s going to be a Russia probe, even without a dossier.”
“I am on record as saying I support [Special Counsel Robert] Mueller one hundred percent,” Gowdy said separately, adding: “You need an investigation into the Trump Tower and the Cambridge Analytica email, separate and apart from the dossier. So those are not connected issues to me. They may be for other Republicans, but they’re not for me. I say investigate everything Russia did, but admit that this was a really sloppy process.”
Gowdy had said Friday that he remained “100 percent confident” in Mueller, and that “[t]he contents of this memo do not – in any way – discredit his investigation.” He announced Wednesday that he would not seek another term in Congress.
Rep. Brad Wenstrup (R-OH) told CNN’s Jake Taper, host of “State of the Union” that the Nunes memo and the special counsel probe were “separate” issues.
“In my opinion, what we’re dealing with is a situation within our FISA court and how we process within our government agencies and I don’t think it really has anything to do with that,” he said, referencing Mueller’s probe.
When “Fox News Sunday”‘ host Chris Wallace posed the same question to Rep. Chris Stewart (R-UT), Stewart said the memo “doesn’t end the need” for Mueller’s investigation “at all.”
“I think it would be a mistake for anyone to suggest that the special counsel shouldn’t complete his work,” he said of Mueller. “I support his work, I want him to finish it. I hope he finishes it as quickly as possible. This memo has frankly nothing at all to do with a special counsel.”
“I hope the special counsel will complete his work and report to the American people,” he added.
And Rep. Will Hurd (R-TX), also a member of the House Intelligence Committee, told ABC News’ George Stephanopoulos on “This Week” that “I would say that DOJ and the FBI should continue doing their job.”
“I don’t believe this is an attack on Bob Mueller, I don’t believe this is an attack on the men and women in the FBI,” he said, adding later: “I want to stress, Bob Mueller should be allowed to turn over every rock, pursue every lead so that we can have trust in knowing what actually the Russians did or did not do.”
“So you don’t agree with President Trump when he says this vindicates him in the entire Russia investigation?” Stephanopoulos asked.
“I don’t,” Hurd said.