February 2, 2018

Dems in delegation slam Nunes memo release as ‘cowardly,’ ‘partisan’

Capitol Hill in Washington D.C.

Democrats in the New Mexico congressional delegation slammed the release of a memo by House Intelligence Committee Republicans, saying the document was partisan and inaccurate. The FBI urged Congress to not release the memo before President Donald Trump allowed its release.

The memo itself likely will not be a smoking gun to end the investigation into the Trump presidential campaign, as some supporters had hoped. Indeed, it confirmed that the FBI began investigating Trump campaign adviser George Papadopoulos well before the U.S. government saw the Steele Dossier.

Democrats on the House Intelligence Committee crafted their own memo, which they wish to release.

New Mexico response

U.S. Sen. Martin Heinrich is a member of the Senate Intelligence Committee and said it was example of U.S. Rep. Devin Nunes, R-California, and President Donald Trump playing politics and that the memo was inaccurate.

“They are falling down on the job by putting partisan interests ahead of national security concerns,” Heinrich said. “The memo released by House Intelligence Committee Republicans is an attempt to undermine the rule of law and interfere with the Russia investigation, and is in no way an accurate representation of the truth. Meanwhile, the President has done nothing to secure our election systems and the real danger to our democracy – Russia – persists.”

Republicans and Trump officials have sought to downplay the role of Russia in the 2016 elections, though CIA Director Mike Pompeo said recently that Russia will target the 2018 midterm elections.

U.S. Sen. Tom Udall called the memo “cowardly, cherry-picked and hyper-partisan” and warned against using the memo as a pretext to fire Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein or Special Counsel Robert Mueller. Mueller is investigating Trump’s campaign.

“Senate Republicans and Democrats have a duty to act urgently to allow the Russia investigation to proceed, protect the rule of law, and defend the integrity of the hardworking Americans at the Justice Department and the FBI,” Udall said.

Rosenstein has the ability to fire Mueller, effectively ending the investigation. U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions recused himself from the investigation into any parts of the 2016 election because of his involvement with the Trump campaign.

U.S. Rep. Steve Pearce, the lone Republican in the New Mexico delegation, said he supported the release of the memo.

“Not only was the ‘Steele dossier’ compiled at the request and payment of the Democratic National Committee (DNC) and the Hillary Clinton campaign, but senior officials within both the FBI and DOJ were aware of Steele’s partisan political views and continued connection with the DNC,” he said in a statement. “It has become clear that if all relevant information was made known to FISC about the validity and sourcing of this document, a warrant would not have been issued.”

Whether a surveillance warrant through the FISA court would have been issued without the Steele Dossier is a key point in the debate. The memo paraphrases unreleased testimony from former FBI Deputy Director Andrew McCabe to the House Intelligence Committee to make this assertion. The Daily Beast quoted a source familiar with McCabe’s testimony that this was not a true representation of McCabe’s remarks.

LA Times Washington Bureau Chief David Lautner says it is “significant” that a surveillance warrant on Carter Page was renewed three times.

“That means the federal judges who have been assigned to the FISA court on four separate occasions decided that prosecutors had met the legal standard of showing evidence of probable cause to believe that Page was ‘a foreign power or an agent of a foreign power,’” Lautner wrote.

Page has not been charged with any crime, unlike Papadopoulos, who pleaded guilty to charges related to Mueller’s probe.

Democrats on the panel have sought the release of a transcript of McCabe’s testimony.

U.S. Rep. Ben Ray Luján called it “a shameful effort to discredit” the FBI and the U.S. Department of Justice.

“The premise of the Nunes memo is that the FBI corruptly sought a FISA warrant on a former Trump campaign adviser and deliberately misled the court as part of a systematic abuse of the FISA process – none of this is true,” Luján said. “The Republicans’ refusal to allow release of a comprehensive memorandum prepared by Committee Democrats in addition to the Nunes draft that was released today is a transparent effort to suppress the full truth.”

NM Political Report reached out to the office of U.S. Rep. Michelle Lujan Grisham, but did not receive a response before publication.