Nunes tells Fox News memo was released out of public obligation

House Intelligence Committee Chairman Devin Nunes, R-Calif., told Fox News on Friday that the memo alleging intelligence abuse during an investigation into the 2016 presidential campaign was released out of “an obligation to the American people.” He also said there's “damning” evidence that the courts were misled in an attempt to surveil a Trump campaign member.

Appearing on “Special Report,” Nunes told Fox News’ Bret Baier that the motivation behind releasing the memo was protecting the rights of American citizens

“I have an obligation to the American people when we see FISA abuse," Nunes said. "These are secret courts that exist to target for foreigners, for catching terrorists, for catching people who might be bad actors and the American citizens that are represented before this court have to be protected, and the only place that can protect them is the U.S. Congress when abuses do occur.”

The four-page memo, written by Nunes and his staff, alleges intelligence abuse by the DOJ and FBI during the 2016 Trump campaign, citing a high-ranking government official who says both agencies would never have sought surveillance warrants in the absence of a disputed anti-Trump dossier funded by Democrats.

Former FBI Deputy Director Andrew McCabe testified to the committee that “no surveillance warrant would have been sought” from the FISA court “without the Steele dossier information.”

The memo said it was not disclosed that the dossier was authored by an outspoken Trump critic, Christopher Steele. Democrats say the court was notified.

“No,” Nunes said when asked if this was true. “These guys tell so many lies you can’t keep track of them. The court was not made aware.”

If this was the case, Baier asked Nunes, why not include a transcript of McCabe’s testimony?

“I wouldn’t mind doing that,” Nunes said. “The quotes are pretty damning themselves,” but he added that it is a long process. “It’s a summation of a long interview but that is definitely what he said.”

Nunes noted that there are other testimonies to corroborate McCabe’s statement.

“We have other witnesses who said very similar things. The fact of the matter is the main things that were used to go out and get this warrant was the dossier and the story that corroborated the dossier.” 

Nunes said he strongly believes that without the dossier, the court would not have authorized the surveillance. “They wouldn’t have received a warrant without the dossier. The dossier was presented to the court as if it were true. The court was not told that the Democrats actually paid for this,” Nunes said.

Baier also asked the congressman if he manipulated the memo when writing it, something Democrats have alleged.  

“So we looked specifically at just FISA abuse; we wanted to keep sources and methods out; remember 10 days ago we were accused of a lot of things, especially that we were going to disclose our nation’s top secrets."

That, he said, turned out to be a falsehood by the left and the mainstream media.

Nunes said it was actually Rep. Trey Gowdy, R-S.C., who reviewed the FISA documents and later briefed the rest of the committee.

“This has been one of these bogus news stories that have been put out. So the agreement we made with the DOJ was to create a reading room and allow one member and two investigators to go over and review the documents. I thought the best person for this was Trey Gowdy,” he said. “They would come back with their notes and brief the rest of the committee members”

Nunes told the Fox News host that the investigation never worked in cooperation with the Trump administration, any Trump lawyers or any outside conservative groups.

He added that he would vote yes to release the Democrats' own memo, which purports to fill in gaps and provide context for the one released Friday, but could not say when it might be released, since it would have to go through the same review and approval process that the Nunes memo went through.

Nunes concluded that “Phase 1” of the investigation focusing on FISA abuse was complete, and that “Phase 2” included ongoing investigations into other departments including the State Department.