Republican lawmakers reject Trump’s claim that the memo ‘vindicates’ him

Not the response Trump was hoping for.

Rep. Trey Gowdy (R-SC). CREDIT: Drew Angerer/Getty Images
Rep. Trey Gowdy (R-SC). CREDIT: Drew Angerer/Getty Images

President Donald Trump has taken to Twitter to claim the infamous Nunes memo “totally vindicates” him in Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation into whether Trump’s campaign colluded with Russia to influence the 2016 presidential election. If only Republicans on the House Intelligence Committee felt the same.

Ignoring the FBI’s “grave concerns” over its accuracy, House Republicans voted last week to declassify a biased memo written by Rep. Devin Nunes (R-CA) that attempted to argue former Trump adviser Carter Page was only subject to surveillance because the FBI was politically biased and based its decision to do so on intelligence in a dossier that was by funded by Democrats.

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The memo left out key pieces of context; for instance, Page bragged about acting as an adviser to the Kremlin in a 2013 letter and that he had relationship with a Russian intelligence agent under diplomatic cover, who was later charged, according to Time. On NBC’s Meet the Press Sunday, former Central Intelligence Director John Brennan lambasted Nunes for releasing the partisan memo and accused him of abusing his power.

A number of Republicans on the House Intelligence Committee that voted to release the memo took to the Sunday morning news airwaves to counter the president’s assertion. Rep. Trey Gowdy (R-SC) said on CBS’s Face the Nation he helped draft the memo and did not think it had any impact on the Russia probe and debunked key talking points made by fellow Republicans.

“There is a Russia investigation without a dossier. So 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.”

“So there’s going to be a Russia probe, even without a dossier,” he said.

When asked by George Stephanopoulos on ABC’s This Week if the memo vindicates Trump from the Mueller investigation, Rep. Will Hurd (R-TX), another member of the House Intelligence Committee, said he did not. He then said his colleagues in the House who characterized the memo as “explosive” were exaggerating its contents.

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“I’m not shocked that elected officials are using hyperbole and exaggerations,” Hurd said, while simultaneously defending the committee’s decision to release the Nunes memo and not a memo drafted by Democrats that counters it.

Rep. Brad Wenstrup (R-OH) told Jake Tapper on CNN’s State of the Union that he did not think the memo vindicated Trump from the Mueller investigation, rather it raised concerns about why the FISA court signed-off on the surveillance of Page.

“This is a separate issue. In my opinion we are we’re dealing with is a situation within our FISA court and how we process in our government agencies. And I don’t really think this has anything to do with that,” Wenstrup said. 

Lastly, House Intelligence Committee member Rep. Chris Stewart (R-Utah) told Fox News Sunday host Chris Wallace that it would be a “mistake” for anyone to suggest that Mueller shouldn’t finish his investigation. 

“I support his work. I want him to finish it. I hope he finishes it as quickly as possible,” Stewart said. “This memo has frankly nothing at all to do with a special counsel. It was one of the criticisms of people last week and before that who had never seen the memo who said, you know, this is to impugn the integrity and the work of the special counsel.”

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Stewart added, “As you know now, Chris, it has nothing to do with at all with that. They’re very separate. I hope the special counsel will complete his work and work to the American people.”