House Oversight Committee Chairman Trey Gowdy (R-SC) on Sunday called on top intelligence officers to step down if Donald Trump refuses to accept their assessment that the Russian government is interfering in U.S. elections.
In an interview on Fox News, guest host Bret Baier asked Gowdy why Trump continues to suggest that Russia may not have been responsible for the 2016 election attack, even as the president claims that he accepts the intelligence community's assessment about the Kremlin's role.
Gowdy said that he had watched Trump's press conference with Putin and concluded that Trump had told a "lie" when he said that Russia most likely did not interfere in the 2016 election, a claim that Trump later walked back.
"I can tell you this, Brett, the president has access to every bit of evidence," Gowdy explained. "Even more than those of us on House Intelligence [Committee]. He has access to Pompeo and Chris Wray and Dan Coats and Nikki Haley. The evidence is overwhelming."
The committee chairman went on to say that Trump intelligence officials should resign if the president continues to disregard their advice.
"It can be proven beyond any evidentiary burden that Russia is not our friend and they tried to attack us in 2016, so the president either needs to rely on the people that he has chosen to advise him, or those advisors need to reevaluate whether or not they can serve in this administration," Gowdy said. "But the disconnect cannot continue. The evidence is overwhelming and the president needs to say that and act like it."
"We got a classified briefing this week," Gowdy explained "There is no way you can listen to the evidence and not conclude, not that the Democrats were the victims, but the United States of America with the victims. We were the victims of what Russia did in 2016."
Baier pointed out that Trump had extended an invitation for Russian President Vladimir Putin to visit Washington, D.C. before informing Director of National Intelligence Dan Coats.
"I do think it strange. I will also say this," Gowdy opined. "I think that the United States of America sometimes has to meet with people that we don't have anything in common with... This country is different. We do things differently. We set the standard for the rest of the world. The fact that we have to talk to you about Syria or other matters is very different from issuing an invitation. This should be reserved."
Before concluding the interview, Baier asked Gowdy about the news that a FISA warrant accuses former Trump campaign adviser Carter Page of conspiring with the Russian government.
"My take is that Carter Page is more like Inspector Gadget then he is Jason Bourne or James Bond," Gowdy quipped. "I'm sure he's been on the FBI's radar for a long time, well before 2016. Here's what we will never know: we will never know whether or not the FBI had enough without the [Steele] dossier, the DNC-funded dossier because they included it and everyone who reads this FISA application sees the amount of reliance they placed on this product funded by Hillary Clinton's campaign and the DNC."
[Nicole ad:] It's ironic that Gowdy tells intelligence officers to quit if Trump isn't listening to them when he parrots the provably false Nunes Memo narratives. Lawfare blog takes it apart:
Based on this back and forth between the HPSCI partisans, I wrote on Lawfare at the time that the FBI’s disclosures on Steele “amply satisfie[d] the requirements” for FISA applications, and that the central irony of the Nunes memo was that it “tried to deceive the American people in precisely the same way that it falsely accused the FBI of deceiving the FISA Court.” The Nunes memo accused the FBI of dishonesty in failing to disclose information about Steele, but in fact the Nunes memo itself was dishonest in failing to disclose what the FBI disclosed. I said then, and I still believe, that the “Nunes memo was dishonest. And if it is allowed to stand, we risk significant collateral damage to essential elements of our democracy.”
Now we have some additional information in the form of the redacted FISA applications themselves, and the Nunes memo looks even worse. In my earlier post, I observed that the FBI’s disclosures about Steele were contained in a footnote, but argued that this did not detract from their sufficiency: “As someone who has read and approved many FISA applications and dealt extensively with the FISA Court, I will anticipate and reject a claim that the disclosure was somehow insufficient because it appeared in a footnote; in my experience, the court reads the footnotes.” Now we can see that the footnote disclosing Steele’s possible bias takes up more than a full page in the applications, so there is literally no way the FISA Court could have missed it. The FBI gave the court enough information to evaluate Steele’s credibility.
There’s also more detail on the previous disclosure from the House intelligence committee Democrats’ memo on how Steele went to the press with the “dossier” when FBI Director James Comey sent his October 2016 letter to Congress disclosing the possible newfound importance of the Weiner laptop in the Clinton investigation. According to the FISA applications, Steele complained that Comey’s action could influence the election. But when Steele went to the press, it caused FBI to close him out as an informant—facts which are disclosed and cross-referenced in the footnote in bold text.