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The Democratic Rebuttal Memo Is Out; Growing Rejection Of The National Rifle Association By Corporate America. Aired 4-5p ET
Aired February 24, 2018 - 16:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
[16:00:44] RYAN NOBLES, CNN HOST: And at breaking news just in to CNN. Democratic House intel staff have received the Schiff memo from the White House and they are reviewing it. This, of course, the memo that was in response to the Republican memo.
Let's go to CNN White House correspondent Boris Sanchez. He joins me now with what we are learning.
Boris, what is the latest?
BORIS SANCHEZ, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Hey, there, Ryan. Yes, we just got word that a source on the House intelligence committee has received that memo. They are reviewing it. Now, we don't know exactly what the next steps will be for its release. But obviously, the White House has now approved its release alongside some of the nation's intelligence agencies.
To give you background, we can say President Trump was less than enthusiastic about the release of the Schiff memo compared to his enthusiasm behind the release of its Republican counterpart, the Nunes memo. You will recall, Ryan, that even before reading a word of it, the President was encouraging its release. At one point, he was caught on a hot mic during the state of the union telling lawmakers he would 100 percent back the release of the Nunes memo. He essentially went against the advice of the FBI and others who urged him not to release it because of what they called inaccuracies or depictions that were taken out of context. In other words, a feeling from the intelligence community that the Nunes memo lacked certain clarifications. After it was released, the President said it vindicated him, that it proved that the idea of collusion was a witch hunt.
Now, when it comes to the Schiff memo, the White House initially indicated that they would be inclined to release it, and then late on a Friday night during the midst of this Rob Porter controversy, the White House put out a statement saying they had sent it back to the Democrats to rework it. The President tweeting that it was a partisan document, that the Democrats knew it was flawed. And further, he said that he would depend on the FBI to determine whether or not this document would be released.
Two very different approaches for these memos. And the political implications, we should note, are very broad. For one, Democrats have maintained that the Schiff memo, which is ten pages compared to the Nunes memo, at only four pages, contained a lot more context, a lot more information. That at some points contradicts what Devin Nunes had been saying about FISA warrants, about the surveillance of Carter Page, and about the dossier, that salacious dossier being the basis for the Russia investigation. We still don't have a clear picture on exactly what this Schiff memo details, but right now, as we understand it, officials on the House intelligence committee are reviewing it. We could see its release as soon as later today, Ryan.
NOBLES: Yes. And of course, Boris, Democrats concerned that the redactions the White House suggests could be political in nature as opposed to protecting intelligence sources and methods. We will have to see how they respond to that if and when the memo comes out today.
Boris Sanchez at the White House, thank you very much.
Now to the picture getting clearer this weekend of what happened ten days ago when a killer started shooting people inside a high school in Parkland, Florida. What we are finding out looks very bad for the officers who raced to the school but did not go in.
Police officers from neighboring Coral Springs arrived to find four Broward County sheriff's deputies who were first on the scene, still outside the school. Police sources tell CNN those four deputies did not go inside to face the shooter while 17 kids and school staff were either dead or dying.
I will talk police tactics and who should have done what in a moment with a former police chief and a top FBI agent.
But there's other fallout in this week in the aftermath of the shooting. And it's the growing rejection of the National Rifle Association by corporate America. These are just a few of the big companies that are cutting all business ties with the NRA, dropping benefits for card carrying NRA members and wanting their names deleted from the NRA Web site.
Delta and United airlines, major car rental companies, Met Life, and even some banks. They are dropping the NRA in light of the group's position on gun ownership and responsibilities since the massacre in Parkland, Florida.
And this is happening right now in Parkland, a small town where those 17 people died. Students are marching. They say it is to support the ban on the type of weapons that killed their friends and teachers. And they are marching in honor of those who died on that day.
All of this comes as we're learning new information, chilling information, about a warning to the FBI just weeks before the massacre.
CNN's Martin Savidge reports.
[16:05:25] MARTIN SAVIDGE, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): The call to an FBI tip line about Nikolas Cruz could not have been more clear, warning that Cruz is quote "going to explode."
CNN has reviewed the transcript of the January 5th, 2018 call, informing the agency about the Parkland, Florida, shooter. The unidentified woman spoke of Cruz's Instagram feed. She talked about his posts of guns and was quote "afraid something is going to happen." The caller also talked about Cruz's history of violence in school and said she worried about him quote "getting into a school and just shooting the place up." Forty days later, Cruz did just that. The FBI admits it failed to follow up on the tip.
The missed call is just one of a growing list of failures by authorities that could have prevented tragedy if only they had been handled differently. They include the case of school resource officer Scott Peterson seen here in 2015 speaking about his job.
SCOTT PETERSON, SCHOOL RESOURCE OFFICER: We are all here for the same goal, to protect our kids.
SAVIDGE: Peterson resigned and retired rather than face suspension without pay and the pending internal investigation into what he did or did not do at the time of the high school shooting.
Broward county sheriff Scott Israel says for at least four minutes as the attack was going on, school surveillance video shows Peterson just standing beside the building rather than entering to engage the gunman. Some angry parents have suggested Peterson was more worried about retirement than protecting students. Something the officer seemed to joke about in 2015.
PETERSON: I'm almost on my way out. I'm 30 years.
SAVIDGE: Peterson is not the only sheriff's deputy accused of not reacting properly. Sources telling CNN say some coral springs officers were shocked to see deputies standing outside the school shooting sight even as they rushed in. But at a news conference today, the Coral Springs police department refused to talk about those accusations. Instead, first responders talked about what they did.
TIM BURTON, CORAL SPRING OFFICER: Immediately, I grabbed my rifle and I start running.
SAVIDGE: Officer Tim Burton is believed to be the first Coral Springs officer to arrive on scene charging alone toward the building.
BURTON: I thought I was going to encounter the shooter as soon as I made the left-hand turn in the parking lot, if he was trying to escape or get away.
SAVIDGE: Instead, Burton found only silence.
The first Coral Springs officer to arrive heard no gunfire. But officer Jeff Heinrich did hear gun fire. In fact, he heard it all. Recounting the moment the shooting began.
SGT. JEFF HEINRICH, CORAL SPRINGS FIRST RESPONDER: I hear what I now know to be five or six gunshots. At first, I honestly thought they were fireworks.
SAVIDGE: Heinrich was off duty and without his weapon, volunteering at the high school, watering the baseball field. Moments later, more gunfire. He knew it was real. He also knew his wife, a teacher, and his son, a student, were both inside.
HEINRICH: Kids started to run. Kids started to scream. That time, I heard a round of probably about another five or six shots.
SAVIDGE: Wearing just shorts and a t-shirt, Heinrich ran in the direction of gunfire, first, tending to a gravely wounded student, and then his other officers arrived grabbing a spare vest and gun.
HEINRICH: Got his gun, a secondary weapon, and we systematically cleared back towards the 12 building.
NOBLES: Martin Savidge, thank you for that report.
And I want to get now to our panel, Charles Ramsey, of course, he is our law enforcement analyst. He served as a chief of police in Philadelphia and in Washington, D.C. Also retired FBI special agent Jeff Lanza.
And I want both of you to read this along with me. It's a tweet from the President just this afternoon, and he writes quote "armed educators and trusted people who work within a school love our students and will protect them. Very smart people. Must be firearms adept and have annual training. Should get yearly bonus. Shootings will not happen again. A big and very inexpensive deterrent." Then he said it was up to the states.
Charles, let's start with you. You led police departments in two major cities. How comfortable are you with the notion of teachers in class carrying guns?
CHARLES RAMSEY. CNN LAW ENFORCEMENT ANALYST: Well, I'm not comfortable with that at all. I mean, we have had shootings in movie theaters, and I don't think we should arm all ushers or in malls and store clerks and so forth. I mean, that's not the solution. My wife and I were talking about it earlier. And she said, instead of putting an armed teacher in a school, why not put a school psychologist in every school or a social worker so they can intervene early on if they start to see things go wrong with these young people.
And not only that, the confuse it would cause responding officers to a scene like that, not knowing who the good guy is, who the bad guy is. I mean, you know, they are more likely to actually shoot another student than they are actually an active shooter, the teacher, I'm talking about.
[16:10:06] NOBLES: And Jeff, I want to get your expertise here and with your experience with the FBI. And we are learning more and more about the opportunities that the FBI just blatantly missed when it came to stopping this tragedy from happening. In particular, these tips that were called in to the FBI's hotline about the issues that Nikolas Cruz was having.
I would imagine that these FBI agents receive thousands and thousands of tips along these lines. How are they trained to know when something is something that requires action versus something they should just ignore?
JEFF LANZA, RETIRED FBI SPECIAL AGENT: This one is inexcusable because there was so much in this tip. Not only was the information firsthand, there was -- it was credible. By reading, if you read the 13 minutes, the transcript of that 13 minute call, you get the sense this person was very close to the shooter. And there was credible information. And there was lots of factual information that would lead anyone, even an untrained person, to conclude this guy was an imminent threat, and not taking action is totally inexcusable on the part of the FBI in this particular case. Most FBI agents are hard- working and dedicated, but how this got through the cracks, I have no idea.
NOBLES: And they said that they closed the case within an hour. Could this be a training issue that they weren't properly prepared for it? Is it a resources issue, that there's just too much for them to handle? Is there any way to explain this?
LANZA: We don't. We don't know the details. But we do know the call came in to Pock Attello, Idaho, to a call center and it was taken by what is called the intake specialist. Now it's not an agent, but it doesn't matter. She should -- that person who took the call should have been trained what to do with it at that point.
Now maybe they did do the right thing and then something happened after that. But right now, we don't have those details. We do have that chilling transcript, which will lead anyone to believe that actions should have been taken.
NOBLES: Yes. Obviously, something that the families are having a hard time wrapping their minds around.
Unfortunately, Charles and Jeff, we are going to have to leave it there because we need to get now more into the breaking news that is just coming into our NEWSROOM. Ten pages, a political dust-up, a world of speculation now over. The Democratic rebuttal memo is now out. The document, a bullet by bullet retort to the Nunes memo, the President views as a vindication and also proof the Obama administration improperly surveilled his campaign using information gleaned from the infamous Steele dossier. Of course, the target of the surveillance Carter Page was no longer part of the campaign at that time.
Let's bring in our Evan Perez who I believe we have by phone right now to talk more about this.
Evan, obviously, this document just being made available to the public. I notice right away when you look at the first couple pages that there are a number of redactions. Is there anything in the brief amount of time that you had to go over it that jumps out to you right now?
EVAN PEREZ, CNN JUSTICE CORRESPONDENT (on the phone): Well, right now, we are still going through it, Ryan. But at this point, you know, it's very important to remind people that the FBI was supposed to release this memo upon the release of the initial memo from Devin Nunes. Obviously, the concern was the national security contingent. Chris Wray, the director of the FBI, cited grave concern about damage to national security (INAUDIBLE).
And look. The Democrats, you know, one reason why they did this memo was because of the damage being done by the Republican memo, but it's also fair to point out that by adding more information, they are adding to the damage that's being done. We have already seen that in the last few weeks since the Republican memo came out. We have seen court cases where some of that damage is playing out.
So at this point, we are going through the memo. We expect that this memo is just going to add some more information, more background as to why the FBI had concerns about Carter Page. We know that he had come up in an earlier investigation of counterintelligence investigation. And that the FBI had a concern that the Russians would target him and turn him into some kind of asset. And so that's part of the reason they were concerned about carter page. He becomes part of the Trump campaign, the President, now President, at the time the candidate Trump, named him as a national security adviser, and those are the concerns that were behind the FBI deciding they need to get this extraordinary warrant to be able to listen in and surveil Carter Page. Again, we are going through the memo and we will be able to fill in a little more of the picture on what the Democrats have added to the picture here.
And it's also important to point out, Ryan, that Carter Page has not been accused of a crime. Nobody has charged him with anything. You know, this was a surveillance that should never have gotten out. This is the kind of thing that the FBI does. Under normal circumstances, it never becomes public.
[16:15:13] NOBLES: Right, right. OK, Evan Perez, our justice correspondent. We are going to give you a moment to actually dive into the substance of this document and pull out the important pieces for our viewers.
Let's go to the White House now. And that where White House correspondent Boris Sanchez is standing by.
And Boris, obviously, I haven't had an opportunity to read through the entire document either, but this one sentence does stand out to me in the second paragraph. It says quote "FBI and DOJ officials did not abuse the foreign intelligence surveillance act, FISA process, omit material information, or subvert this vital tool to spy on the Trump campaign."
Obviously, this is the headline that the Democrats who crafted this memo want to get out there. It's a direct and complete rebuttal of the conclusion of the Nunes memo. Is there some thought in Washington that this is just going to become another political document or is there something substantive that can be gleaned by what the Democrats were able to comb through here and release?
SANCHEZ: At this point, Ryan, you can point to these memos almost as a Rorschach test. You see in it ultimately what you choose to, at least to both sides of the aisle.
As you noted, Democrats right off the bat contradicting one of Devin Nunes' main points in his memo, that the intelligence community, the FBI abused FISA warrants in their monitoring of Carter Page and the accusation that they based much of their investigation into Donald Trump's campaign on that so-called Steele dossier. Obviously, Democrats challenging that directly, as you noted, right at the beginning of this memo.
I haven't had a chance to read it myself. I was on the phone with some officials on the White House press team. I'm still awaiting a statement or a response directly from them.
The release of this memo has broad political implications. Specifically because of the way that the President approached not just this memo but the Nunes memo itself. It's something that he wanted out there. As I noted earlier, before even reading a word of it, the President was urging its release in the sake of transparency. When it came to the Schiff memo, however, the President upon first receiving it, called it a partisan document. Ultimately, obviously, relenting with some redactions to go ahead and release it.
We should note it's the first time in the history of the House intelligence committee that they used this obscure rule to release these classified memos. So that tells you that there is some drive behind getting this information out there to the public. And now, ultimately, this may also give us an indication of what the President's relationship is like with the FBI. Remember that for months, he has gone after not only the FBI itself, but even members of his own department of justice, officials that he has appointed, sources tell us that he's disappointed in.
And so this may be perhaps the closing of a chapter. Depending on how the President views this release and we will hopefully get an indication of that shortly, we may see him finally relent and perhaps take on a friendlier tone when it comes to discussing those who are investigating him. But again, we are still combing through this document. We hope to bring you more details and again, a statement from the White House, as soon as we get one, Ryan.
NOBLES: All right. Boris, stick with me for a second. But I do want to play this piece of sound that we just have in from the CPAC conference happening in Washington, D.C. This is Devin Nunes, who is, of course, the chairman of the House intelligence committee. He is someone who did recuse himself from the Russia investigation because of accusations of being too tight with the White House throughout this process. But he was the author of the initial memo that led to this rebuttal by Democrats.
This is Devin Nunes responding to the release of this memo at CPAC. Take a listen.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REP. DEVIN NUNES (R), CALIFORNIA: We actually wanted this out, so this has been held up for over two weeks. The FBI and DOJ had right away told the Democrats what was wrong with their memo or their response to our memo. And they waited for two weeks before they actually did the redactions that were necessary to get this out.
We wanted it out. We wanted 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. And I think as you read it, you will see personal attacks on myself, personal attacks on chairman Gowdy, with a lot of really interesting things that sound really bad, like a lot that has been happening with this Russia investigation over the course of the last year. But what you are not going to see is anything that actually rejects what was in our memo.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
NOBLES: I want to point out, one of the things that Devin Nunes said there, the congressman. He is accusing Democrats of colluding with certain aspects of the government, which would lead you to believe he is supporting this kind of theory that there's a deep state at play, and they are in some respects working in opposition of President Trump.
Boris, I have to imagine a statement like that, and Boris Sanchez joining us again from the White House, a statement by Devin Nunes, who is essentially trying to tamp down the impact of this memo, would be music to the White House's ears. This is a White House who said, as you pointed out, that the memo authored by Nunes was a vindication for the President as it relates to his role in the Russia investigation. So for Nunes to accuse Democrats of just basically coordinating with the FBI and the justice department to try to tamp down some of those concerns, I think the White House would probably be in line with that way of thinking.
[16:20:55] SANCHEZ: It is likely. We have seen -- actually, I should note, I will pause for a moment and note that President Trump is tweeting, but he is tweeting about DACA, not the release of the Schiff memo. It appears that he is going after Nancy Pelosi in this latest tweet.
But getting back to your note about the Schiff memo, yes, it's something that this White House has consistently relied on as a talking point, that there is this deep state within the intelligence community that resents the fact that President Trump is President, and has gone out of their way to go after him.
We have seen sort of stunning turns from this White House, moments where even officials that they have put in place as FBI director Christopher Wray, where they have gone against their way of thinking. You will recall that Christopher Wray, sources tell us, asked the White House not to release the Nunes memo because it cast the FBI in a negative light and failed to provide a full context, a full picture of why the Russia investigation was launched. Despite that, the President said that he would rely on the FBI to
determine if the Schiff memo should be released. So there is definitely a contrast there, even as the President is pointing fingers, calling the Schiff memo a partisan document.
The Nunes memo in many ways stands as a document that to the President proves that he has been unfairly persecuted by this deep state, this group within the intelligence community and other aspects of the government that do not want him in power, that are seeking to delegitimize his presidency, Ryan.
NOBLES: All right, Boris Sanchez, thank you for your reporting on this.
Obviously, this news just come in to our NEWSROOM. The Democrats have officially released their rebuttal memo to the Nunes memo. There are some redactions in it. Our justice team is now combing through that document to pull out the important aspects of it to share it with you.
We are going to take a quick break. When we come back, more on this breaking news.
You are live in the CNN NEWSROOM.
[16:26:57] NOBLES: More breaking new. Ten pages, a political dustup and a world of speculation now over. The Democratic rebuttal memo is out. This document is a bullet by bullet retort to the Nunes memo, which the President views as his vindication and prove that the Obama administration unfairly targeted him as a candidate.
Our White House correspondent Boris Sanchez is standing by. We also we have CNN justice correspondent Evan Perez who is poring through the document.
I want to first go to Boris who is live at the White House right now. And Boris, as I understand it, you have a statement now from the White House about this memo. What can you share?
SANCHEZ: Hey, there, Ryan. Yes, we just got this from Sarah Sanders, the press secretary at the White House. She says that quote "while the Democrats' memorandum attempts to undercut the President politically, the President supported its release in the interest of transparency. Nevertheless, this politically driven document fails to answer serious concerns raised by the majority's memorandum about the use of partisan opposition research from one candidate loaded with uncorroborated allegations as a basis to ask a court to approve surveillance of a former association of another candidate at the height of a Presidential campaign."
She goes on to say that as the majority's memorandum stated the FISA judge was never informed Hillary Clinton and the DNC funded the dossier that was a basis for the department of justice' FISA application. In addition, the minority's memo fails to even address the fact that
former FBI director or former deputy FBI director told the committee that had it not been for the dossier, no surveillance order would have been sought. As the President has long stated, neither he nor his campaign ever colluded with a foreign power during the 2016 election. Nothing in today's memo counters that fact.
So the White House essentially sticking to their guns here, calling this a politically driven document. Saying that it fails to answer questions about that salacious dossier. That it fails to state, that according to the Nunes memo, the judge that approved FISA warrants on carter page was never informed that the basis for this investigation was that dossier.
Further, that it was funded by at one point by the Hillary Clinton campaign. She also calls out former deputy FBI director Andrew McCabe, saying that at one point, he apparently told the committee that there could be no investigation without that dossier.
So again, the White House sticking to its guns, reiterating many of the points we have already heard. Obviously, Democrats are going to argue, as they did in portions of this memo, that there was a sufficient basis to surveil Carter Page beyond that memo. And that this is in fact a contradiction of what Nunes wrote in his memo and that it does not prove that President Trump is vindicated.
So both sides going head to head here, really no new clarity when it comes to which side will resonate more with the American people. And ultimately, where this investigation, this Russia investigation, is headed next, Ryan.
NOBLES: Yes. And Boris, we should point out that Evan Perez, our justice correspondent, Jim Sciutto, both of them poring through this document to pull out some relevant facts for us.
But I would say in response to the White House's statement on this, saying that it doesn't address the political leanings of the groups that funded the Steele dossier, there's an entire section on page five of this memo that explicitly points out the DOJ's transparency about Christopher Steele saying at one point the DOJ explained in detail Steele's prior relationship with the FBI and the likely political motivations of those who hired Steele. So that is addressed. Whether the substance of that point is something that is credible is something that I guess will be left up to the eyes of the beholder and something that Evan and Jim can give us more context on, but it's addressed. We should point that out.
And I should also point out, Boris, that our Jeremy Herb, who is reporting on this from the congressional perspective, just sent us a statement from Adam Schiff, who is the author of this memo. It is a lengthy statement. I'm not going to read the entire thing. But I will just point out these certain aspects of it.
Schiff writes the democratic response memo released today should put to rest any concerns the American people might have as to the conduct of the FBI, the justice department, and the FISC. And he also goes on to say that this document that we are releasing today is a product of a good faith negotiation between the minority, the FBI, and the DOJ.
And this is interesting. He is attacking the White House because this is being released on a Saturday. He says it's unfortunate that the weekend release of the Democratic memo by the White House was delayed beyond what was necessary and to the advantage of those seeking to mislead the American public.
So that's just a short bit of a lengthy statement from Adam Schiff, the ranking member on the House intelligence committee, and the author of this rebuttal memo.
I want to go now to Washington, actually, just outside of Washington, the national harbor there where the annual CPAC conference is taking place. And our political reporter Rebecca Berg is standing by.
Rebecca, Devin Nunes, who wrote the initial memo that led to this back and forth between Republicans and Democrats, just spoke at CPAC, and he had some pretty interesting things to say about the release of this democratic rebuttal. What did he have to say?
[16:32:15] REBECCA BERG, CNN POLITICAL REPORTER: That's right, Ryan. Well, in a bit of serendipitous timing, the House intelligence chairman Devin Nunes was on the stage right behind me as the Democratic rebuttal memo posted online. And take a listen now to what he had to say in response.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
NUNES: We actually wanted this out, so this has been held up for over two weeks. The FBI and DOJ had right away told the Democrats what was wrong with their memo. Or their response to our memo. And they waited for two weeks before they actually did the redactions that were necessary to get this out.
We wanted it 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're also colluding with parts of the government to help cover this up. And I think as you read it, you will see personal attacks on myself, personal attacks on chairman Gowdy, with a lot of really interesting things that sound really bad, like a lot that has been happening with this Russia investigation over the course of the last year. But what you are not going to see is anything that actually rejects what was in our memo.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BERG: So there you have it, Ryan. The chairman's reaction in real time to the Democratic memo.
I should note that there was no pushback from the crowd here at CPAC. This is a very friendly crowd. They greeted Nunes with very warmly, and in fact, he received an award on the stage shortly after his remarks.
The organizers at CPAC praised him for his unwavering courage, his dogged pursuit of the truth on the intelligence committee. And Nunes also noted in his remarks that he is continuing with his angle of the investigation. Within the past few days, he and the intelligence committee distributing questionnaires to current and former administration officials from the Obama administration to now, asking them for details about the approval of the dossier, the funding for the dossier, so he is continuing on his track, even as he faces this pushback from Democrats now.
NOBLES: All right, Rebecca Berg, thank you for that update from CPAC and the reaction from Devin Nunes, the author of the Republican memo.
A lot more to cover with this breaking news. We are going to take a quick break and be right back on the CNN NEWSROOM. Stay here.
[16:39:04] NOBLES: And our big breaking news this hour. President Trump agreeing to release a redacted version of the Democratic memo rebutting Republican claims of FBI surveillance abuses.
This is what we know so far. The White House signed off after negotiations took place between the FBI and the top Democrat on the House intelligence committee, Adam Schiff, over what should be in the document and what should be redacted. The memo is a direct response to the disputed Nunes memo, which alleges that a foreign intelligence surveillance warrant against former Trump campaign aide Carter Page would have never been sought without that now infamous Steele dossier.
Now, Democrats say that the Republican memo is misleading and omit some key facts, saying instead that the FBI and justice department did not abuse the foreign surveillance act to spy on the Trump campaign.
Let's go now to CNN's Evan Perez, our justice correspondent who has been poring through this document.
Evan, what have you learned? What's new in this document that we didn't know before?
[16:40:02] PEREZ: There's a lot of information now that we sort of understand why the FBI was opposed to the Nunes memo. And why the Democrats said that it was misleading. There's a lot more information about what the FBI had on Carter Page, their concerns about his interactions with Russian intelligence.
And as a matter of fact, Ryan, one of the most important pieces of information here is that the FBI actually talked to Carter Page in March of 2016, according to this Democratic memo. And talked to him about his interactions with Russian intelligence. And they had previously been concerned and had talked to him because they thought that there was a Russian spy that was actually trying to target Carter Page to make him an asset, to try to turn him into a Russian spy. And so they had these interactions with Carter Page.
So in March of 2016, now keep in mind, March of 2016 is when Donald Trump first named him and cites him as a foreign policy adviser to his campaign. So this is part of the information of what the FBI is working with at this point. According to the Schiff memo, the Democratic memo, it's not until
September of 2016 that the now infamous Steele dossier comes into the hands of the investigators who are doing this investigation. This counterintelligence investigation of the Russian meddling and contacts with the Trump campaign. So seven weeks after they had initially opened this investigation is when they finally obtained a copy of the Steele dossier. At this point, the FBI was working with various parts of it.
And then in October, Ryan, they go to the FISA court, to the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court, and ask for permission to do this very invasive surveillance of Carter Page. So the timeline is the investigation is opened in July of 2016. Seven weeks later or so, the investigative team actually comes into possession of this Steele dossier.
Now, the reason why that's important is that the Nunes memo, the Republican memo released a few weeks ago, made the case that without the Steele dossier, there would be no investigation of the Trump campaign, that this entire witch hunt, this entire hoax, as the President likes to call it, would never have got off the ground without this dossier that was funded by opponents of the President, by his political enemies.
It's also important that this memo makes clear and actually cites a portion of the application that went to the foreign intelligence surveillance court. And in it, they say that the person who was doing this, collecting this information, the dossier, was being paid by, quote, it says here, the FBI speculates that the identified U.S. person, this is the people paying for the person, was likely looking for information that could be used to discredit candidate number one's campaign.
Now, that's a reference to Donald Trump. And it's important that passage is important simply because, again, the Republican memo says that the FBI and the justice department never told the surveillance court that the funding of this memo was from Democrats, that the Hillary Clinton campaign, that the Democratic National Committee had actually paid for this research, that again, they claim, was so important for this investigation.
And according to this paragraph that's being cited from the application itself, according to the Democrats, that was made abundantly clear, made clear that this application, this information that was being cited from the Steele dossier came from someone who was clearly trying to discredit Donald Trump's campaign.
Again, we are still going through this memo. There is a lot of new information here about -- that's been redacted. As you mentioned earlier, Ryan, the FBI had worked with the White House and with Democrats to try to limit some information, to redact some information, remove some information from this release. And so what we are left wondering here is a few very, very key parts.
I will show you one page here where you see some redactions being made. And that particular paragraph is interesting because it says there's a certain number of people associated with the Trump campaign that are being investigated by the FBI. Again, we don't know the identities of these people. We don't even know how many because it's been redacted from these pages, but it's clearly a very serious investigation that was already well under way before the investigative team at the FBI got its hands on this now controversial Steele dossier.
NOBLES: All right, Evan Perez, thank you for unpacking that so quickly. We are going to let you go back and take a look at it and pull some other things out of it.
I'm joined now on set with two experts to break this down. Paul Callan, CNN legal analyst, and Samantha Vinograd, who is a CNN national security analyst. And I want to pull out two things that Evan pointed out in his report that are pretty significant to this conversation. It is something the President is already pushing back on.
The first being the timeline of events. When did the Steele dossier come into this conversation. And secondarily, the political motivation of the people that paid Christopher Steele to issue this report. Apparently this investigation happened before Christopher Steele got involved in it, and the FISA court was well informed about these political motivation, at least according to this document.
Paul, how significant are those two points?
[16:45:36] PAUL CALLAN, CNN LEGAL ANALYST: I think they are very significant. And in reading over the memo, there are other points that suggest that the warrant in question was a legitimate warrant, carefully scrutinized, not by one FISA judge but by four different FISA judges, incidentally appointed by H. W. Bush, George W. Bush, and Reagan. So you can't really look at the judges who approved the FISA warrants and say there was a political ax to grind here.
The other thing that I found to be very interesting was that, of course, the President has sort of suggested that this surveillance was used for political purposes to surveil him in the Trump tower. In fact, Page had discontinued his connection with the Trump campaign by the time the first FISA warrant had been issued. So it's really a false argument to say that this was a secret way to use page to get at Trump. He had no affiliation with Trump at the time they started the surveillance.
NOBLES: And Samantha, I don't know if you saw earlier, I know you are getting it and reading the document, but Devin Nunes, who wrote the initial memo, claimed that this memo shows a clear effort by the department of justice and Democrats to essentially collude with one another to undercut the Trump presidency. From your quick reading of this document, is there any substance to that?
SAMANTHA VINOGRAD, FORMER SENIOR ADVISE TO NATIONAL SECURITY ADVISER: We have to say it, Nunes likes to say that the Democrats are colluding with everyone, right? And he likes to throughout the course of his career find conspiracy rabbit holes, which his memo was, to waste time and attention rather than doing his job, which is investigating Russia's attack on our country.
And I just have to say it, I find the timing of this release very suspect. The White House released the Nunes memo very quickly, did not go through the same process. With this memo, they actually listened to the department of justice, which I support, and took time to make sure no sensitive sources and methods were released, and that this was appropriately redacted.
But now we have this released at exactly the time the White House is under such serious pressure over security clearances, their actions on Russia and that sort of thing. So I'm not really sure what was driving the release today.
And look, there's a reason why this is ten pages and why the Nunes memo was three. That's because this is a carefully researched memo that, Paul, to your point, underscores the fact that Carter Page was surveyed because he was suspected to be a foreign agent. That was a long-standing allegation, which is why there are multiple FISA warrants that were offered, that were approved.
And secondarily, you know, the largest point in the Nunes memo was that this dossier was the basis for all of FISA. When again, multiple FISA warrants. And we can see just on page one, there were multiple sources that were used for the October 2016 FISA warrant other than the Steele dossier. So I anticipate Nunes will make a lot of conspiracy allegations because his memo was so poorly written, such a misrepresentation.
NOBLES: OK. We are going to pause for a moment, give you an opportunity to take a look at that document a little bit more. We are going to continue with this breaking news. The Democrats release their rebuttal memo to the Nunes memo. We will have more with our panel of experts and our reporters that are poring through this document when we come back. Stay here.
[16:52:53] NOBLES: Welcome back.
We are going to reset this breaking news. Moments ago, congressman Adam Schiff, the ranking democrat on the House intel committee, responding to the news that the memo that he authored has finally been released after some work by the department of justice and the White House and his committee.
This is what Schiff had to say. Quote "some time ago, Republicans on our committee released a declassified memo that omitted and distorted key facts in order to mislead the public and impugn the integrity of the FBI. What we can now tell you what they left out."
All right, so let's get reaction to this. Paul Callan is here with my and Samantha Vinograd is here as well.
It's interesting what Schiff is accusing Republicans about here. He's saying that they have purposely left out material information, and I know that in the lead-up to this, this was something that Democrats were very concerned about, that the redactions would not come in the form of just protecting sources and methods, that there would be a political motivation behind it. We don't know exactly what he is talking about yet. He is going to be a guest tomorrow on "STATE OF THE UNION." We got a little tease in there now.
But Paul, this would be a serious charge by the ranking member on the House intelligence committee.
CALLAN: Well, it is a very serious charge. And of course, when the Nunes memo first came out, the problem that I think a lot of people had was this was the intelligence committee was really a bipartisan committee that respected secrecy and worked together to preserve the nation's secrets. And for one side in this case the Republicans, to say no, we are going to release our version of what happened, angered the Democrats tremendously. And now you have the committee at war with itself, separately leaking separate parts of the document. It's not a great way to protect the nation's secrets, you know. It really isn't.
NOBLES: To that point, Sam, when you had this back and forth between the two memos, is it hard to give any credibility to the House intelligence committee investigation?
VINOGRAD: I think it is probably hard to getting work done because now we have a ten-page document that will take a lot of really smart lawyers a lot of time to go through. And there's a lot of other work to do. Aside from the Russia investigation, the House intel committee has a lot of other functions. But the amount of time that all of us are going to spend analyzing this memo that Adam Schiff and other members of the committee are going to spend talking about it on TV, just tomorrow, they are not doing their other jobs. And that's why, again, I think it's really interesting the timing of when this was released.
I also think that Schiff's statement that we just read is a departure. I think and perhaps we are all reading into it and he will clarify it tomorrow, but Schiff has been very supportive of the department of justice and of the FBI as nonpolitical organizations. Staffed by career professionals. And this allegation, the way it reads, at least, is the redactions were politicized in some way, and that would be very big departure from where he's been before.
[16:55:44] NOBLES: A lot to dig into here with this memo, just released. If you're just joining us, the Democrats have released their version of the memo in response to the Devin Nunes memo. All of our correspondents are poring through it. We have our panel of experts here to put it in perspective. Please stay here. We will have much more coming up.