Rep. Devin Nunes (R-CA) is denying that the White House was involved in drafting a GOP memo that alleged anti-Trump bias at the Justice Department and FBI. But Democrats say his comments don’t put the matter to rest.
Nunes’s claim surfaced in a transcript released Friday afternoon of the House Intelligence Committee’s Monday meeting. It’s slightly stronger than Nunes’ comments on the issue last week, when he said that, “as far as I know” no Republican staffers coordinated with the White House on the document.
“There was no involvement in drafting the memo with the White House,” Nunes, the committee’s chair, said in a statement that he read as Monday’s meeting wrapped up, according to the transcript.
In a statement of his own released Friday, Rep. Adam Schiff (D-CA), the top Democrat on the panel, suggested he still wants to know more.
“This carefully worded statement suggests the White House may have had a role in the planning of the memo,” if not the drafting, Schiff said.
The transcript of Monday’s meeting shows that before reading the statement, Nunes avoided offering detailed responses to Democrats’ questions about possible White House involvement.
“People want to know whether folks are just trying to protect the President or whether they are doing a legitimate investigation,” Rep. Joaquin Castro (D-TX) said, urging Nunes to address those concerns personally.
“The chairman is not going to entertain political theater on behalf of this committee,” Nunes ultimately said, suggesting his Democratic colleagues were eager to play up their outrage “for the news cameras.”
The Nunes memo, which was released last week, claimed that top FBI and DOJ officials failed to properly identify a dossier partially funded by Democrats as the source for an application to obtain a surveillance warrant against former Trump campaign aide Carter Page. The warrant was actually based on a wealth of information about Page dating back to 2013, and renewed multiple times, suggesting investigators found additional useful intelligence to act on.
Trump has claimed the memo completely vindicates him in the investigation into Russia’s interference in the election.
The House Intelligence Committee on Monday voted unanimously to release the Democrats’ rebuttal to the document, and the White House has spent the week reviewing it. Trump said Friday that he would release a letter on the Democratic memo imminently.