Following the release of the Democrat/Schiff Memo – along with the Nunes Rebuttal – Devin Nunes sat down with Matt Schlapp, Chair of the American Conservative Union, for a lengthy on-stage interview at the CPAC Conference.
The interview was refreshingly candid. Surprisingly so.
Nunes, who deservedly received the American Conservative Union’s Defender of Freedom Award, discussed his ongoing investigation, FISA abuse and politicization of the DOJ and FBI by the Obama Administration.
The video is highly worth your time:
I provide a transcript of the interview below.
Note: transcript comes from uncorrected Closed Captioning. I have attempted to clean up errors where I found them.
SCHLAPP: In these days it seems like news is breaking all the time and I think it is important for all of our CPAC attendees to know there is news breaking right now with the release of this Schiff memo. Our attendees are going to hear from you first.
What do they need to know about what is going on and about the release of this memo?
NUNES: We actually wanted this out. This has been held up for over two weeks. The FBI and DOJ had told the Democrats what was wrong with their memo or their response to our memo.
They waited for two weeks before they actually did the redactions that were necessary to get this out. We want it out because we think it is clear evidence that the Democrats are not only trying to cover this up, but they are also colluding with parts of the government to help cover this up.
As you read this I think you will see personal attacks on myself, personal attacks on Chairman Gowdy with a lot of interesting things that sound really bad, like a lot that has been happening with this Russian investigation over the course of the last year, but what you’re not going to see is anything that actually rejects what was in our memo.
What was the point of our memo?
The point of our memo was for one purpose only and that was to show that FISA abuse had occurred.
To have a secret court that gets abused like this is totally unacceptable and it falls on the legislative branch who created all of this to provide oversight and make sure that when we see problems we let the American people know, and all of our Congressional colleagues know.
What you will read in the Democratic memo is they are advocating that it is ok for the FBI and the DOJ to use political dirt paid for by one campaign and use it against the other campaign.
I don’t care who you are, Republican, a Democrat, or Independent. That is unacceptable.
SCHLAPP: We have two issues here. We have FISA abuse. Abuse of this sacred trust we put in our government to actually have the power to look in the most intimate areas of our life. We have abuse of that.
And then you have this question – it’s a bold charge – of cover-up. Covering up the fact that it ever happened or explaining it in a way that doesn’t provide good clarity to the American people.
NUNES: In a footnote before the FISA court they had put in a very convoluted, complicated answer – that was buried at the end of the application – that this was politically motivated.
Wouldn’t it have been a lot easier to say, hey, Mr. Judge, we want you to know that the Hillary Clinton Campaign and Democratic Party paid a lawyer who hired a firm who hired a foreign agent to go to the Russians and get dirt on Mr. Trump.
It would have been a lot easier to just say that.
We are not going to have a FISA court in this country any longer if the FBI and DOJ are going to continue to obfuscate like that.
SCHLAPP: After 9/11 some of these extra steps were taken to give the federal government greater powers and leeway to fight terrorism, to fight our enemies. We were told..there would be so many safeguards. No one could ever use it in a way that would be separate from our national security.
Did we just not have these safeguards?
NUNES: Let’s make one thing clear, our ability to track down terrorists and bring them to justice is critically important – and so is this court.
There is going to have to be an investigation done by somebody over the DOJ and FBI who can look at it all.
In that investigation they are going to have to determine whether or not there was abuse, whether or not the law needs to be changed, and also holding people accountable that did this abuse.
Until that happens I think you are going to see a very skeptical Congress as it relates to what can or cannot be brought before this court.
SCHLAPP: …What was the first thing that caused you to really go after this and go after the truth? What was the flag, what was the trigger?
NUNES: There were a lot of flags…On the House Intelligence Committee we prefer to stay out of the press. We would prefer to just be down in the basement, helping out the intelligence agencies. Only making an appearance when there is an issue of national emergency where we need to go out and talk about whatever the American people and Congress need to know. That’s traditionally how we did our work.
Let’s talk about Russia. In 2013 and 2014 and 2015, the Republicans had been warning the Obama Administration that Russia was a problem, and Putin was a problem.
A lot of people are talking about what is the current Trump Administration doing against the Russian threat.
Let’s talk about what the Obama administration did with their Reset Policy that created – and emboldened Putin to be in a position to be such a threat.
Just a few facts that people forget.
We hit a reset button with Hillary Clinton.
Then we said we are going to pivot to Asia, because we are going to be friends with the Russians.
We went through a whole European infrastructure consolidation process of our military installations across Europe.
We abandoned a lot of our capabilities in the North Atlantic to track Russian subs.
We actually had the president of the United States, who said on a hot mic to the Prime Minister of Russia at the time – didn’t know the mic was hot and said, “Just tell Vladimir that I have to wait until after the election.”
That was President Obama who said that.
At the same time Mitt Romney, in 2012, said Russia was a great threat. And president Obama had that great line, all the media laughed about it, that the 80’s wanted their foreign policy back.
But who created this Russian threat?
It was the last administration who put us in this position.
But here’s the kicker to all of this. It culminated finally with great frustration on my part, where in April of 2016 – just months before the election – I came out and said on national television that the biggest intelligence failure since 9/11 was our failure to understand Putin’s plans and intentions.
This was in April of 2016.
Fast forwarding, what were the signs there could be a problem. It was late summer when people in the [Obama] administration were coming to me and saying we could have a problem with the Russians.
We’ve been saying this now for four years, glad you guys finally figured that out.
After the presidential election, President Trump is elected. A couple of days later I was asked to serve on the transition team. It was at that point where I began getting accused by all sorts of media and platforms that I was some sort of Russian agent.
If anybody was going to be accused of being a Russian agent, I would be towards the bottom of that list, after you listed all of the Democrats in Congress.
Now the media today would have you believe that I’m working with the Kremlin. This is total nonsense.
I said we’ll conduct an investigation. If we see collusion – I no evidence of collusion. I’ve still seen no evidence of collusion…
SCHLAPP: We see no evidence of Republicans colluding, is that fair?
NUNES: That’s very fair.
So all of this that has happened over the course of the last year and a half, it’s really quite something to be a part of and be in the center of.
I will tell you that the American people deserve to know the truth and the House Intelligence committee will continue to plod through our work – with or without the support of the media. And we’ll get the facts.
SCHLAPP: So the bigger the Democrats and their allies in the national media make the charge about Russian interference…the bigger they make the charge that there was apparently something untoward about Trump and Russia collusion – it’s important for all of us to remember they are indicting the Obama Administration.
The Obama Administration did not keep us safe. Instead, they took the information and used it to go after Team Trump. Is that a fair statement?
NUNES: There is clear evidence of collusion – you alluded to it. The only evidence we have of collusion – it’s clear evidence, it’s not even circumstantial.
People try to get around it by saying it was a law firm that hired another guy.
This was money from the Hillary Campaign and the Democratic Party making its way into the hands of an agent, who was either paying Russian agents, or getting information from Russian agents that was dirt on the Trump Campaign, that of course they used later.
It is clear evidence of collusion. There is nothing that is any clearer than that. And you would think somebody might want to do some research on that and figure out who really was colluding with Russians.
SCHLAPP: Well you’re the one who asked these questions. You asked a series of questions to some former officials. Do you expect to get answers?
NUNES: That’s the next stage of our Investigation.
The Media still hasn’t reported on this.
Earlier this week we sent a questionnaire to what will likely be a couple dozen current and former members of the executive branch, very straightforward questions. When did you first learn of the Dossier? When did you learn that the Democrats and the Hillary Campaign had paid for the Dossier? Did you brief Obama on this? These are 10 simple questions. We hope by the end of next week we will have the answers. But I’m not going to hold my breath for those answers.
SCHLAPP: Is it fair to ask what did Obama know? When was he briefed? Were they briefing him after the fact? Were they told to do things because they got direction from the White House? These are the answers you’re trying to get to with your questions.
NUNES: We need to know all of the officials, at the time, when they knew about this.
We have to make sure people are held accountable, so that everyone knows that it’s never going to be ok to take dirt from a foreign actor, that was essentially made up out of whole cloth, and then use it against the other campaign.
No matter whose campaign that is. We just can’t allow that to happen again.
SCHLAPP: There’s so many great people that work at the Department of Justice and the FBI. It’s hard not to read all the coverage and not feel they’ve been tarnished by this politicization. What do we do to fix this and get it back on the right track.
NUNES: I think the first thing you have to do is admit you have a problem. Once that begins to happen, then you will start to see the types of reforms that are needed.
I want to stress that it’s just at the top. We don’t have any evidence that anyone in the local field office that was playing politics – playing politics at a level that was unprecedented. We just don’t see that.
It’s going to be up to Christopher Wray, the new FBI Director, to takes this upon himself and give confidence to the American people.
SCHLAPP: And you’re hopeful that’s going to happen?
NUNES: If not, we’re there to oversee it.
SCHLAPP: At the beginning of this process a year ago, they did something we call in Kansas, they tried to hogtie you. As soon as you were making progress and you were going after the truth, people started leveling charges about you in order to stop you. Why has it turned into that?
NUNES: I think this is a good example of what you have really seen. The collapse of the media.
It’s really sad. I think all of us have known that most in the media are left. But for the most part we tolerated it because you had people who had certain standards that you could count on to at least be fair.
A lot of people really don’t understand what happened last spring when I went to the White House.
When I got the information, I briefed the Republicans on the Committee. The Democrats don’t like to hear this, I didn’t briefed them because I knew they would run to the press and talk about it.
But after that I went out to the media, held a press conference, total transparency and said I’m going to the White House because I found this information where there were unmaskings that occurred on Trump transition officials and the President needs to know about this.
I told the media this.
I went to the white house, briefed the President. Outside of the white house, I briefed the White House press corps again.
And what do I get accused of? Not being transparent.
That was the height of hypocrisy.
Most Americans understand no matter where you are getting your news from, it is going to be biased.
I don’t know how that’s going to be fixed. It’s not going to be fixed in the short run. In the long run it may get fixed.
You have billionaires controlling most of the media outlets, that have their own agendas.
You have a press that is totally reliant on clicks. And when you put stories out there just to get clicks, I think you are going to see a degradation of the quality of reporting. That’s really what’s happening.
Just to finish on this point, how is it possible – we talked a little bit about the questionnaire we sent out. And no one in the mainstream media has covered it. How’s that possible?
SCHLAPP: There is this show called Morning Joe. And they had someone on recently who was mocking you and your intelligence and your abilities, because you’re a dairy farmer.
And the people I come from in Kansas who work the land and are farmers and ranchers – they are somehow not able to handle the complex issues that the Intelligence Committee has to undertake.
I would like to give you equal time on the CPAC stage.
NUNES: This is why President Trump won the election.
Middle America was ignored for way too long, and the power centers of New York, Washington DC, a few of the big cities and then of course Hollywood and San Francisco in my neck of the woods – the people all in the middle were considered irrelevant.
SCHLAPP: And stupid.
NUNES: And stupid or incompetent – not knowing what everyone knows in the beltway.
But it’s more than that.
They despise people who are mechanics and truck drivers and people who are builders and get their hands dirty.
If we didn’t have these people we wouldn’t have the shelter and energy to keep us warm or cool, we wouldn’t have any food to eat.
I come from the agricultural Mecca of the world in the San Joaquin valley. We’ve been dealing with these crazy people for a long time. You guys are just now learning what we’ve been dealing with in the San Joaquin Valley. I grew up with this lunacy that comes from Hollywood and San Francisco. It’s kind of the home of the extreme left wing.
We’ve seen what they do to people’s private property, what they do to their farms, what they do to their businesses. People ask me how do you deal with this but I’m used to these people. I’m used to being attacked all the time. And so are my constituents.
I hope you all know that in California it’s like a country in and of itself.
Don’t hold that against some of us who are actually conservative, actually trying to do the right thing. And trying to be participants in this great country.
The interview portion ends here.
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older post Adam Schiff’s Memo & A Response by Nunes