House Intelligence Committee ranking member Devin Nunes (R-Calif.) told House Intelligence Chairman Adam Schiff (D-Calif.) on Dec. 15 that Schiff is “in need of rehabilitation” after Department of Justice Inspector General Michael Horowitz’s report showed that a memo Schiff issued in 2018 was riddled with errors.
While Schiff claimed on Dec. 15 that he was “unaware of” information showing the FBI clearly abused the FISA court in applying to spy on Trump 2016 presidential campaign associate Carter Page, Schiff and Nunes had viewed the same information at the time they released competing memos.
Nunes’s Feb. 2, 2018, memo stated that the FBI used unverified opposition research, the Steele dossier, to obtain a warrant to spy on Page. It also stated that FBI officials knew that Hillary Clinton’s 2016 presidential campaign and the Democratic National Committee paid for the dossier, but withheld the information in FISA applications.
The claims made in the memo were confirmed by Horowitz in his report, which was released Dec. 9.
On the other hand, Schiff made a number of claims in his Feb. 24, 2018, memo that Horowitz’s report showed to be false, including a claim that the FBI corroborated details in Steele’s dossier and that the Department of Justice “made only narrow use of information from Steele’s sources.”
“After publishing false conclusions of such enormity on a topic directly within this committee’s oversight responsibilities, it is clear you are in need of rehabilitation, and I hope this letter will serve as the first step in that vital process,” Nunes wrote in a letter to Schiff on Dec. 15.
He highlighted some of the claims that Schiff had made that Horowitz showed were wrong, and highlighted a number of findings from Horowitz’s team. They including the finding of “so many basic and fundamental errors” that displayed “a failure of not only the operational team, but also of the managers and supervisors.”
“As you know, your misguided validation of the FISA warrant was part of a years-long pattern in which you touted Christopher Steele’s credentials and reliability. For example, during this committee’s March 20, 2017, open hearing, you claimed Steele ‘is reportedly held in high regard by U.S. Intelligence,’ and proceeded to read into the congressional record numerous conspiracy theories proffered by Steele, all of which are false,” Nunes told Schiff.
Schiff claimed in that hearing that Page secretly met with Igor Sechin, a Russian business executive, and that Sechin offered Page a fee involving the sale of Rosneft, a Russian company. Schiff also had cited Steele as saying that Russians offered the Trump campaign dirt on Clinton in exchange for the Trump administration adopting policies favorable to Russia.
Nunes said that Horowitz’s report showed that “Page was the victim of a smear campaign” that was funded by Democrats, and implemented by Steele and opposition research firm Fusion GPS.
“The FBI used these false allegations to obtain a warrant to spy on Page, a gross violation of an American citizen’s civil liberties. Your direct participation in the smear campaign against Page is extremely concerning, considering you are chairman of the committee responsible for uncovering precisely these sorts of abuses by the Intelligence Committee,” Nunes wrote.
“Instead of joining committee Republicans in exposing these abuses, however, you excused them. And by supporting the agencies’ stonewalling of our attempts to gather information on this affair, you helped cover up this misconduct.”
Nunes said that Schiff’s rehabilitation “will be a long, arduous process,” and recommended Schiff first “admit that you have a problem,” before taking the next step and scheduling a House Intelligence Committee hearing featuring Horowitz.
“I understand taking action on this issue will be difficult for you, as it will be an implicit acknowledgment that you were wrong to deny these abuses and that you were complicit in the violation of an American’s civil liberties,” Nunes wrote. “Nevertheless, I refuse to believe you are beyond redemption.”