South Carolina Republican Rep. Trey Gowdy said the recently released, controversial GOP memo alleging FBI abuses of its surveillance authority does not have “any impact on the Russia probe,” and even without the Steele dossier, there would be a Russia investigation.
“There is a Russia investigation without a dossier,” Gowdy said in an interview that aired Sunday on CBS’s “Face the Nation,” days after he announced his decision not to seek re-election.
President Donald Trump authorized the release of the memo from the House Intelligence Committee on Friday, and has since claimed it “totally vindicates” him in the ongoing investigation around allegations of possible coordination between his associates and Russia to influence the 2016 election.
Gowdy, however, said he believes the memo does not affect the Russia investigation and has no connection to key storylines about the matter.
“To the extent the memo deals with the dossier and the FISA process, the dossier has nothing to do with the meeting at Trump Tower,” Gowdy said. “The dossier has nothing to do with an email sent by Cambridge Analytica. The dossier really has nothing to do with George Papadopoulos’ meeting in Great Britain. It also doesn’t have anything to do with obstruction of justice.”
Lawmakers: Not ‘vindication’
Gowdy was one of several lawmakers to say over the weekend that the memo did not vindicate the President.
Senate Minority Whip Dick Durbin said on CNN’s “State of the Union” that it is the duty of Congress to focus on the Russia investigation and not seek to absolve Trump. The Illinois Democrat also said the GOP memo spearheaded by House Intelligence Committee Chairman Devin Nunes would be “discredited” if a competing House Democratic memo becomes public.
“The information, the facts, tell a totally different story,” Durbin said.
In a separate CNN interview on the same program, Republican Rep. Brad Wenstrup of Ohio signaled agreement with Gowdy that the memo is a “separate issue” from vindicating Trump in the Russia probe.
“It’s more looking within the agencies, something we have oversight over,” said Wenstrup, who, like Gowdy, is a member of the House Intelligence Committee and supported the release of the memo.
Republican Rep. Will Hurd of Texas, also a member of the committee, said on ABC’s “This Week” that he does not agree that the memo vindicates Trump and downplayed the claims about the “explosive” nature of the memo from his colleagues.
“I’m not shocked that elected officials are using hyperbole and exaggerations,” Hurd said.
The memo alleges the FBI, in seeking a warrant on former Trump campaign adviser Carter Page under the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act, relied on a dossier of allegations about Trump and Russia compiled by former British intelligence official Christopher Steele, whose work for the firm Fusion GPS was part of an opposition research project against Trump.
In comments Friday hinting there are more memos to come, Nunes said he had delegated the task of reviewing the underlying intelligence that became the basis for the GOP memo to Gowdy and two investigators, and that those were the people who briefed the rest of the members of the intelligence panel.
In the interview, Gowdy said the Steele dossier was not “the exclusive information” the FISA court used for the Page warrant, but contended the court would not have approved the warrant without the dossier.
“It would not have been (approved),” Gowdy said.
Gowdy also reaffirmed his support for former FBI Director Robert Mueller’s leadership of the special counsel probe, saying he supports Mueller “100 percent,” and that he would not “prejudge” Mueller’s investigation, despite having seen “no evidence of collusion.”
CNN’s Maegan Vazquez contributed to this report.