Reported by Chuck Ross | Reporter | 12:16 PM 01/28/2018
Lawmakers have been reluctant to discuss a classified four-page memo alleging that the FBI and Justice Department abused the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) in order to spy on Trump campaign associates, but South Carolina Rep. Trey Gowdy provided several clues on Sunday to what’s in the controversial document.
In an interview on “Fox News Sunday,” Gowdy posed several questions to host Chris Wallace and his viewers that hinted at the allegations in the memo, which could be released by the House Intelligence Committee as early as this week.
“If you think your viewers want to know whether or not the dossier was used in court proceedings, whether or not it was vetted before it was used, whether or not it’s ever been vetted — if you are interested in who paid for the dossier, if you are interested in Christopher Steele’s relationship with Hillary Clinton and the Democratic National Committee, then, yes, you will want the memo to come out,” Gowdy told Wallace.
“Do you want to know that the Democratic National Committee paid for material that was never vetted, that was included in a court proceeding?” he asked rhetorically.
“Do you want to know whether or not the primary source in these court proceedings had a bias against one candidate? Do you want to know whether or not he said he’d do anything to keep that candidate from becoming president?”
Gowdy’s reference to a source who said they opposed Donald Trump is unclear, though he would seem to be talking about Christopher Steele, the former British spy who wrote the dossier. Steele had been hired by Fusion GPS, an opposition research firm that was paid $1 million by the Clinton campaign and DNC to investigate Trump. Steele met with FBI agents in July 2016 and several months later to discuss his investigation of Trump. The bureau and DOJ reportedly used Steele’s work in an application for a surveillance warrant taken out against former Trump campaign adviser Carter Page.
Republican lawmakers have pressed the FBI and DOJ over how heavily they relied on the dossier for the warrant and for the investigation into possible collusion between the Trump campaign and Russian government. Republicans also want to know whether the agencies vetted the dossier prior to using it in any FISA application.
In a Senate hearing last June, former FBI Director James Comey called the dossier “salacious and unverified.” Gowdy declined to confirm reports that the dossier was used to obtain the FISA warrant. He said that that information is classified at this point and he’s not allowed to discuss it. But Republicans will be able to get around that restriction if the Intelligence Committee votes to release the memo, which Gowdy helped write.
Democratic lawmakers have called the memo a set of talking points aimed at helping Trump, and the Justice Department sent a letter to committee chairman Devin Nunes calling the release “extremely reckless.”
In his interview, Gowdy said that he has suggested that Nunes allow the FBI and Justice Department to view the memo prior to its release. But he says that the information contained in the document is based on information already provided by those agencies.
“There’s nothing in this memo the Department is not already aware of,” Gowdy said on Sunday.