CBS to Schiff: Will Memo Show GOP’s ‘Profound Ignorance’?

During a friendly interview with Democratic Congressman Adam Schiff on Friday’s CBS This Morning, co-host Norah O’Donnell teed up the liberal lawmaker to trash the upcoming release of a Republican memo alleging an abuse of the FISA system against the Trump campaign in 2016. She claimed the document in question would only show the GOP’s “profound ignorance.”

“But just to be clear, since you’re a former federal prosecutor as well, the allegation that’s being made by the Republicans that someone within the FBI or Justice Department could essentially trick or fool a federal judge at FISA to issue a warrant for surveillance, is that profound ignorance about how this whole process works? Aren’t there more checks and balances in place?,” she asked Schiff.

 

 

The Democrat was happy to be able to seize on the softball:

There are a lot of checks and balances in place. And what’s more, that’s a gross mischaracterization of what has happened here, and that is just an effort to undermine the FBI to do the President’s bidding. There’s no evidence of a corrupt effort to obtain warrants against people in the Trump campaign.

That’s been the President’s narrative, but there’s no evidence of that. And instead, what will be released by the President over the objections of the FBI – which has called the document, quite rightly, “misleading and inaccurate” – is an effort to undermine the Russian investigation.

Fellow co-host Gayle King followed up on O’Donnell’s question by fretting: “What is the status, Congressman, of the Democratic response?” Schiff assured her:

Well, we’re going to try to force another vote on this. The Republicans voted down the release of the Democratic response, which was quite breathtaking because they said they were offering their own memo in the interest of full transparency. I don’t think that position can be sustained, I think they’re gonna have to release our memo.

Moments before introducing Schiff, O’Donnell set the tone of the exchange by reciting a tirade from fired FBI Director James Comey:

[Comey] sent this Twitter message last night. It said this, “All should appreciate the FBI speaking up. I wish more of our leaders would. But take heart: American history shows that, in the long run, weasels and liars never hold the field so long as good people stand up.”

Here is a full transcript of the February 2 segment:

7:06 AM ET

NORAH O’DONNELL: Fired FBI Director James Comey sent this Twitter message last night. It said this, “All should appreciate the FBI speaking up. I wish more of our leaders would. But take heart: American history shows that, in the long run, weasels and liars never hold the field so long as good people stand up.”

California Representative Adam Schiff, ranking Democrat on the House Intelligence Committee, has led efforts in Congress to block the release of the memo on surveillance. He’s with us from Fort Lauderdale for an interview you’ll see only on CBS This Morning." Congressman, thank you.

REP. ADAM SCHIFF [D-CA]: You bet.

O’DONNELL: The Speaker of the House, Paul Ryan, said yesterday that this memo is not an indictment of the FBI. And then, the President tweeted this morning that it is. What do you make of that?

SCHIFF: Well, unfortunately, in this case, it’s clear from the President that this is exactly the purpose behind this cherry-picking of information that Devin Nunes wants to release. This is designed to impugn the credibility of the FBI, to undermine the investigation, to give the President additional fodder to attack the investigation. And it’s a tremendous disservice to the American people, who are going be misled by this. By this selective use of classified information. And more than that, it’s a terrible new line that we’ve crossed, where we’re going to decide, “Okay, we’re going to take this classified information and make it public, but we’re gonna hide this classified information so that people can be misled. I think it’s a really dishonest thing to do, and people in Congress that support this are gonna be held to account.

JOHN DICKERSON: Congressman, what about the central claim the Republicans make, which is that this dossier, which was funded by the Democrats, was used to get the warrant to look into Carter Page, who was part of the Trump campaign? So that you have, essentially, an investigation here that comes from a partisan document.

SCHIFF: Well, unfortunately, until this is released, I can’t comment on the underlying documents. But I can say, among the changes that I thought were notable that the Chairman made after the release was approved by our committee but before it was sent to the White House, is a reference to omissions that were called “significant omissions,” removed the word “significant.” So it may be the position now of at least the Chairman that what was claimed to be significant omissions are no longer significant. But the reality is, there is no demonstration in this memo, in this misleading memo, of a systemic abuse at the FBI, as has been posited by the President and his allies. And instead, the majority, in the interest of transparency, only wants certain facts to be seen and has thus far refused to allow the Democratic response to be seen.

O’DONNELL: But just to be clear, since you’re a former federal prosecutor as well, the allegation that’s being made by the Republicans that someone within the FBI or Justice Department could essentially trick or fool a federal judge at FISA to issue a warrant for surveillance, is that profound ignorance about how this whole process works? Aren’t there more checks and balances in place?

SCHIFF: There are a lot of checks and balances in place. And what’s more, that’s a gross mischaracterization of what has happened here, and that is just an effort to undermine the FBI to do the President’s bidding. There’s no evidence of a corrupt effort to obtain warrants against people in the Trump campaign.

That’s been the President’s narrative, but there’s no evidence of that. And instead, what will be released by the President over the objections of the FBI – which has called the document, quite rightly, “misleading and inaccurate” – is an effort to undermine the Russian investigation. “Don’t look at what the Russians did, don’t look at what the Trump campaign did in combination with the Russian, just put the government on trial.”

GAYLE KING: Congressman, what is the status of –

SCHIFF: And we need to be thinking about the long-term damage done to these institutions.

KING: Okay, what is the status, Congressman, of the Democratic response?

SCHIFF: Well, we’re going to try to force another vote on this. The Republicans voted down the release of the Democratic response, which was quite breathtaking because they said they were offering their own memo in the interest of full transparency. I don’t think that position can be sustained, I think they’re gonna have to release our memo. But what they wanted to do was have this misleading document sit out there for at least a week, slow-walk the Democratic response, so they could hopefully make this the narrative.

Again, it’s just playing partisan politics with classified information and it really breaks this compact with the intelligence community and law enforcement that we would treat the information they share with us with respect, that we would not seek to abuse it for partisan purposes. And it will mean in the future they’re a lot less willing to share information with us.

KING: Has the FBI’s credibility been damaged here?

SCHIFF: No, but I think the Chairman’s credibility has been damaged. And the fact that the President of the United States will blithely disregard the admonitions of both his own FBI director and the Department of Justice, tells you all you need to know about where the President’s priorities are. And it’s not protecting classified information, it's not respecting the hard-working men and women at the FBI. It’s whatever the President deems to be in his short-term political interest.

KING: Alright, Congressman Schiff, we’ll have to leave it there. More to come, for sure. Thank you very much.  


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