Ex-DNI chief Clapper calls Nunes memo a 'blatant political act'

Clapper says FBI correct to 'defend themselves'

By VERONICA STRACQUALURSI, CNN
Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images

James Clapper

WASHINGTON (CNN) - Former Director of National Intelligence James Clapper on Friday called Republicans' push to release a classified memo that alleges the FBI abused its surveillance authority a "blatant political act."

"Transparency is a great thing, but let's be factual and objective about it, and this clearly is a pretty blatant political act," Clapper said on CNN's "New Day."

The former intelligence leader said the FBI did the right thing by "trying to defend themselves" against the allegations in the memo. The FBI released a public statement Wednesday warning the agency has "grave concerns about material omissions of fact that fundamentally impact the memo's accuracy."

Clapper said he hopes the FBI "takes the opportunity to rebut the memo."

The House Intelligence Committee voted along party lines Monday to release the GOP memo, and under an obscure committee rule, President Donald Trump was given five days to decide whether to agree or object to the release. Trump is expected to tell the committee he wants the memo released.

Trump has told friends that he believes the memo would make it easier for him to argue the Russia investigation is biased against him, two sources told CNN.

The memo, spearheaded by House Intelligence Chairman Devin Nunes and written by GOP committee staffers, is based upon classified information provided by the Justice Department that only a handful of members of Congress have read. It alleges that the FBI abused its authority under the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act through the use of the opposition research dossier on Trump and Russia written by ex-British intelligence officer Christopher Steele as part of its case to obtain a FISA warrant for Carter Page, a former Trump campaign foreign policy adviser.

Democrats are against making the Nunes memo public and attempted to release their own rebuttal memo, which was voted down by the House Intelligence Committee.

"There's been no evidence of a corrupt evidence to obtain warrants against people in the Trump campaign," California Rep. Adam Schiff, the ranking member on the House Intelligence Committee, said in an interview Friday with CBS News. "That's been the President's narrative, but there's no evidence of that."

Democratic Rep. Jerry Nadler of New York, who has seen the underlying material, said the memo is "overhyped."

"I don't think anybody will be terribly shocked by what's in the memo," Nadler said on CNN's "New Day" Friday.

Nadler also said he believes the memo will be used as a basis to fire Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein, who has ultimate authority over the Justice Department's Russia investigation.

Copyright 2018 by CNN NewSource. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.