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House Democrats Release Memo That Retorts GOP Claim of FBI Abuse; President Trump Slams the Democratic Memo; Interview with Representative Eric Swalwell; Interview with Representative Peter King; Interview with Representative Mike Quigley; Teachers Returned Friday to Stoneman Douglas High School; Aired 6-7p ET
Aired February 24, 2018 - 18:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
[18:00:00] RYAN NOBLES, CNN ANCHOR: Latest chapter in memo wars. Democrats on the House Intelligence Committee publishing their rebuttal to a document prepared by the Republican majority.
You'll remember the president said the memo released weeks ago by Devin Nunes vindicated him in the Russia probe. That memo accused the Obama Justice Department of using information from the infamous Steele dossier as the main justification for a super secret warrant to spy on former Trump campaign adviser Carter Page.
Now Democrats said that story was misleading and today after redactions were made we found out what Democrats say really happened.
Joining me now, CNN justice correspondent Evan Perez and CNN White House correspondent Boris Sanchez.
Evan, let's begin with you. Lay out for us what this document says.
EVAN PEREZ, CNN JUSTICE CORRESPONDENT: Well, Ryan, I think the importance of this memo is that it adds at least a significant new information about the timeline of when the Justice Department and the FBI went to the secret surveillance court to get this very intrusive surveillance warrant to be able to surveil Carter Page who at the time, if you remember, in 2016 was named as a Trump campaign adviser, a national security adviser to the Trump campaign.
The timeline goes like this. In July, late July of 2016, the FBI opens a counterintelligence investigation into Russian meddling in the election and possible contacts with the people in the Trump campaign. It's not until seven weeks after that investigation is open that the first iteration that the first iteration, the first memos from Christopher Steele, the former British spy, make its way into the hands of those investigators.
So people -- a very small group of people at the FBI headquarters who were doing this very secret, top secret investigation into the Trump campaign. So sevens week passes before that information ever gets to them and then in October of 2016 is when they go to the court and ask for permission to be able to do the surveillance of Carter Page.
Importantly according to this Democratic memo suggests that that surveillance began in October of 2016 and continued into September of 2017. It's also important here, this memo sort of suggests that in addition, Ryan, in addition to the investigation into Carter Page that the FBI opened four sub inquiries. So four additional inquiries to people who are connected to the Trump campaign.
It doesn't identify who those people are. Let me just correct myself really. They redacted a number of people who are -- who are under investigation in this memo. It doesn't say the number. We have previously reported that there were four people that the FBI was interested in as part of its investigation. This memo redacts that and that might be one reason why you heard Adam Schiff be a little bit sort of disappointed at the redactions that were made here before this memo was finally made public today.
It's also -- in this memo, it also makes clear that the, at least according to the Democrats, they say that the FBI has information that contradicts some of the testimony that Carter Page gave to the House Intelligence Committee. That's important because that means they believe he perjured himself and so we'll have to see whether or not they ask the FBI to bring charges against Carter Page for what they say is testimony that is contradicted by the FBI information.
Importantly in this document, in this memo, they say that the information from the dossier, the Steele dossier, only made a very small part of what the FBI used to get permission to surveil Carter Page. They say that none of the salacious parts of the dossier were used. Only a small reference to meetings that Carter Page had and it's important to also remember that Carter Page had been on the radar of the FBI because of his contacts -- repeated contacts with Russians over the years.
NOBLES: Right. OK, and Evan, I want to make this point as well. You tweeted a short time ago a reminder that not only did the FBI not want the Republican memo released, they also didn't want this memo released. This is a point you've been making all day during our coverage. Why? I mean, what are their concerns?
PEREZ: Look, I think it's important because this -- the first memo, the Nunes memo, was first time that an arm of the U.S. government had ever made public details of a FISA -- of a FISA application and an application for this type of surveillance. This type of surveillance is done in secret. Most times nobody ever knows that it happened. The government even if they try to use information, they have to go to other means to be able to use some of that in a criminal case.
And it's also important to remember that Carter Page is -- has not been accused of any crimes. He has not been formally charged with anything. There is no crime that he has been accused of by the FBI or the Justice Department. So all of that is important to remember that the FBI believes that there's damage done by the release of the Nunes memo and they believe that this memo is also doing damage to national security. That's why they were opposed to both memos being released.
[18:05:07] NOBLES: OK. Evan Perez live for us with his analysis of the newly released Democratic memo. Let's move now to the White House and that's where our White House correspondent Boris Sanchez is standing by. Boris, what is the White House saying about the release of this memo?
BORIS SANCHEZ, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Hey there, Ryan. Yes. Sarah Sanders, the press secretary, putting out a statement shortly after the memo was released, saying that this is a political document that aims to undercut the president. Sanders then goes on to reiterate several claims made in Devin Nunes' memo specifically looking at portions that argue that the basis of the Russia investigation was this Steele dossier, going as far as to actually cite the former deputy director of the FBI, Andrew McCabe, in saying that there would be no Russia investigation without the dossier, something that the Schiff memo clearly contradicts.
It's not really surprising that the White House is pushing back on the details within the Schiff memo. The president was, let's say, less than enthusiastic about its release, at least compared to his enthusiasm behind the Nunes memo. You'll recall that shortly after the State of the Union he was caught on a hot mic telling lawmakers that he 100 percent backed the release of the Nunes memo without ever even reading a word of it.
As Evan noted just a moment ago, he also went against the advice of his own FBI director, someone who he appointed, who sources tell us tried to argue to the president that this would be damaging to the Intelligence Community, damaging to national security. It took only a few days for the release of the Nunes memo. In contrast it's taken about two weeks for the release of the Schiff memo.
The White House initially blocked its release, demanding redactions. The president at one point tweeting that it was a political document. And ultimately this boils down to the belief among the president and some of his supporters that was stated in between the lines of the Nunes memo that there is a deep state out there. That there's collusion between Democrats and the Intelligence Community to try to derail Donald Trump's presidency and his agenda with a document like the Schiff memo that aims to try to argue against many of the claims made by Devin Nunes.
It's only natural that the White House would argue that it is inaccurate and doesn't paint a fair picture of the basis of the Russia investigation -- Ryan.
NOBLES: All right, Boris Sanchez, live for us at the White House. Boris, thank you very much.
I also now want to bring in Congressman Eric Swalwell. He is a member of the House Intelligence Committee. And he is on the phone to talk about the release of this Democratic memo.
Congressman, can you hear me?
REP. ERIC SWALWELL (D), INTELLIGENCE COMMITTEE: Yes, I can. Thanks, Ryan.
NOBLES: So just talk to me about the release of this memo and I'm trying to read the response from the ranking member of the committee, your colleague Adam Schiff, I get the sense that he's disappointed as to what's been left out of this memo. Is that your opinion as well? Do you feel that the redactions go beyond just protecting sources and methods, and that some of these redactions were made with a political purpose in mind?
SWALWELL: Well, first, it's a memo that we hoped we'd never have to write because the Republican memo we thought was just an unfair, unfounded attack on the FBI and its investigation. And so we sought to correct the record with ours. And the redactions that you see are because we asked the Department of Justice to do something that the Republicans did not which was to review it.
Now we don't agree with the redactions that they've made. However, we do believe that this was a collaborative process working with them. And that enough information is out there now that the public sees that the Republicans have put out a phony memo. And -- but more importantly that this investigation did not start because of the Steele dossier. It started because of George Papadopoulos, occurred much earlier than any surveillance on Carter Page, and that the surveillance of Carter Page was warranted because of the voluminous amount of information that was out there, that was concerning about his contact with the Russians.
So I think that has now been put properly into light and context. And the best thing we can do now is get back to business of interviewing witnesses and telling the American people what happened in our last election.
NOBLES: That sounds like that that would be the obvious next step, Congressman. But I wonder -- you know, it just seems as though the relationship that the Democratic members of your committee have with the Republican members has gotten pretty divisive. Do you feel that it is possible for this committee to right this ship and get back to a bipartisan investigation into exactly the role that Russia played in the election?
SWALWELL: Well, every new indictment or guilty plea that Special Counsel Bob Mueller has been able to obtain gives me hope that my colleagues will see the seriousness of what the Russians did and understand our obligation to make sure that it never happens again. And the only way to do that is we show unity.
[18:10:04] Disunity is a Russian sword and unity is our best shield, and I'm not giving up hope that we could still come together in some meaningful way. But these attacks on process, you know, putting the government on trial rather than the country that did us -- did this to us is not helpful.
NOBLES: Well, to that point I want to -- you to respond to what the chairman of the committee, Devin Nunes, who authored the initial memo, what he had to say at CPAC today. He said quite a few things but the one statement that stands out is that he accuses you and your committee, the members of your committee of colluding with parts of the government to cover up the way that this FISA process was handled.
That's a pretty serious accusation, Congressman. How would you respond to that?
SWALWELL: Yes. And you have to remember unfortunately we lost our chairman when -- the day after James Comey told Congress the president's campaign was under investigation. He went over and showed his loyalties working with the White House. So that's unfortunate because we need an independent investigation not to work with them. So I think his credibility, you know, has been lost on this. And I hope that Mike Conaway is able to return as the acting chairman and until we wrap this up.
So -- and to the point on the FISA process, you know, it is always fair to review the work of the FBI. But this investigation is open right now. And what's so disturbing is that they would be, you know, calling into question an open investigation as it's playing out and also I think what's been lost is that by releasing the Republican memo they turned over evidence to subjects in the investigation, meaning that the president and his White House counsel are potential witnesses or subjects of the investigation. And they have been shown evidence that an investigator would never want to show to a potential witness before they were interviewed.
NOBLES: Right. I do want to get your response to some other Republican criticism that members of the Democratic -- the Democratic members of this committee have been leaking details to the press and that it is your fellow colleagues that have been getting some of this information out into the public.
Do you feel that that's a problem with this committee and are you hoping that more of this information stays contained within your deliberations?
SWALWELL: Yes, leaks are a problem throughout our government. I happen to disagree that there's any leaking that's coming from our side aimed at, you know, embarrassing their side. And this is, you know, a refrain that we have heard from the president as well. When many cases it looks like it was his own White House that had leaks. I mean, you know, heck, a whole book, "Fire and Fury" was written on White House leaks.
So again I think this is just more attacks on process and an effort to ignore the evidence. That's what's so concerning, is if you read the indictments that Bob Mueller has put together, I mean, there is powerful evidence of what Russia did and instead we are at war with ourselves and not doing all we can to protect the ballot box the next time we go to the polls.
NOBLES: All right. Congressman Eric Swalwell of California, we appreciate your perspective on this. A member of the House Intelligence Committee. A Democratic member of the House Intelligence Committee.
And let's now get reaction from our panel. Joining me now political analyst Julian Zelizer, CNN security analyst Samantha Vinograd, and CNN legal analyst Paul Callan.
Sam, I want to start with you. It appears that my interpretation of how Congressman Schiff is responding to this memo is not completely accurate. I got the sense initially from that one tweet that they seemed to feel that too much was redacted. That's not the sense that you're getting?
SAMANTHA VINOGRAD, CNN NATIONAL SECURITY ADVISER: My sense is that Schiff along with hopefully all the members of the House Intelligence Committee want to see the same process applied to this memo, to the Nunes memo and any others that come out. The president chose to listen to the DOJ and the FBI in this case. Various things were redacted. He explicitly did not listen to the DOJ and the FBI on the previous memo. They said that releasing it would cause grave damage to national security --
NOBLES: There were no redactions in that initial e-mail.
VINOGRAD: Correct. It just --
NOBLES: In the initial memo. Right.
VINOGRAD: It just went out. And so I think the issue here is that we have to apply the same process to memos coming from whomever. Look, I hope there are no more memos. I do not think that it is positive that this is playing out in the public light and I also think, it was just mentioned, this is an ongoing investigation and the president keeps weighing in on an ongoing investigation rather than letting our legal system function.
And so let's -- let's listen to the DOJ and the FBI across the board. Let's listen to our Intel Community when they tell us that certain people shouldn't have access to sensitive intelligence. We can't cherry-pick or the president shouldn't cherry-pick when he listens to his advisers.
[18:15:02] NOBLES: All right. Julian Zelizer, fresh voice to weigh in on this. Your impressions of the memo.
JULIAN ZELIZER, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: Well, look, the memo contradicts the pillar of the Republican case against the investigation at least in recent months that the Steele dossier was at the heart of the whole investigation. And the memo systematically says that's not true, that's not where this started and we have a lot of other information we're working in. But the problem is the introduction itself indicates that this investigation is not going well. Meaning the memo wars. The partisan memo wars. It's already now become a back and forth. Who do you believe, which memo are you on the side of?
ZELIZER: And once you've hit that point it's very hard to have that investigation feel legitimate to a broad portion of the public. So that's what the investigators are now pushing against.
NOBLES: Right. And I should point out that, you know, obviously it's easy to get wrapped up in the political back and forth about these memos but this is 10 pages of substance. There's information here. There's a lot of meat on this bone to do speak.
And Paul, I want you to respond to one piece of that information and this memo suggests that Carter Page perjured himself during his testimony to the House Intelligence Committee back in November of 2017. It says in a few spots that the FISA warrants contained information about Page that directly contradicts his testimony to the committee. How significant could that be?
PAUL CALLAN, CNN LEGAL ANALYST: Well, it's very significant because remember Carter Page is the central figure in this whole dispute. Was this surveillance warrant supported by probable cause when it was issued? And now we have yet another accusation that he may have lied before Congress. But you know the whole process is absurd when you think about it from the way the legal system works.
Usually when a court looks at the legitimacy of a warrant it has all of the information in front of it to determine whether the warrant was properly issued, whether there was probable cause. But here we have a partial release of information by the Republicans. Followed by a partial release of information by the Democrats. It's like putting a jigsaw puzzle together with half the important pieces missing. And then saying to the public, make a decision.
The process itself is absurd. We need more information but this release seems to indicate that the FISA judges -- by the way, all of whom were Republicans. Four Republican appointees had multiple sources in addition to Michael Steele supporting the issuance of the warrant.
NOBLES: And I believe we have a tweet from the president.
NOBLES: All right. We're going to show that to you right now. This just in from the White House. "The Democrat memo response on government surveillance abuses is a total political and legal bust. Just confirms all of the terrible things that were done then," in all caps, "So illegal," with a question mark -- it's an exclamation point, not a question mark. Two different -- very different things.
All right. So we'll continue to unpack all of this.
Julian, Samantha, Paul, thank you for your expertise. Stay with me. We're going to get more of your insight in just a minute. And we are getting new information about what the FBI is saying about the Schiff memo and we'll also hear what the Republican chairman of the House Intel Committee, Devin Nunes, had to say about it. That's all coming after this short break.
You're watching CNN NEWSROOM.
[18:22:06] NOBLES: And welcome back. A rebuttal to the rebuttal. Mere minutes after the long-awaited Democratic rebuttal to the Nunes memo was released. Now we have response from the White House and from different sections of Congress.
This is the president himself via his Twitter feed tweeting, "The Democrat memo response on government surveillance abuses is a total political and legal bust. Just confirms all the terrible things that were done," then in all caps. "So illegal." And then just seconds ago the president tweeting, "Dem memo, FBI did not disclose who the clients were. The Clinton campaign and the DNC." And the president's response to that is, "Wow."
So to weigh in on this and other things having to do with the rebuttal to the rebuttal, we have a very smart group of people with me. Samantha Vinograd is a CNN national security analyst, Paul Callan, our CNN legal analyst, and Julian Zelizer is a CNN political analyst and he's a historian and professor at Princeton University.
Paul, I'm having a frankly hard time understanding the White House response to this. The president says the FBI did not disclose who the clients were, the Clinton campaign and the DNC. According to this memo, perhaps they didn't explicitly write out the Clinton campaign and the DNC but on page five of this memo, they talk at length about how the court was very much aware of the political motivation of the funder of the Steele dossier.
Is this an attempt for the president to distract from the substance of what's in this memo?
CALLAN: Well, his statement is really totally inaccurate in the sense that repeatedly the court was advised that a lot of the information was opposition research from the presidential campaign. But at that time the Department of Justice had a policy that you would mask the name of an American citizen who was not the target of the surveillance. And hence, even the presidential candidates are identified as candidate 1 and candidate 2.
NOBLES: Candidate 1. Right.
CALLAN: They don't even use Trump's name. Now it's obvious to the court who candidate 1 and candidate number 2 is. And it's also obvious to the court that a lot of the information that's supplied may have come from opposition research from candidate number 2 who happens to be Hillary Clinton.
CALLAN: So the -- it's a disingenuous, I think, inaccurate and incomplete statement by the White House.
NOBLES: And the other thing that is worth pointing out is that the Steele dossier was initially commissioned by Republicans that were interested in opposition research.
NOBLES: To the president. That left out of the president's tweet as well. Julian, this is a political move by the president, isn't it? It's not
so much about rebutting the substance of this memo as much as it is trying to sow discord with the American people, isn't it?
ZELIZER: That's absolutely correct. I think there's one way to look at all of the documents from the investigation as legal documents and to understand the legal ramifications, but the other is to remember this is a political process.
[18:25:09] And for the president what's more important than anything else is not just sowing discord. It's shaping the narrative about every piece of information that we have. And from the beginning, he wants to shape this as a partisan investigation that is illegitimate. So it didn't even matter what was in the Schiff memo.
ZELIZER: That tweet in many ways could have been prewritten by the president. It's consistent with everything that he says and he doesn't care what's in this.
ZELIZER: He doesn't care. And that's what we have to remember. He's making an argument. He's selling a story. And that's what he's basing his political future on.
CALLAN: But you know what he does care about is timing. And look at the timing of this.
NOBLES: Right. Right.
CALLAN: What were we talking about before? Whether Jared Kushner was going to get a classified -- you know, get rated for classified information. That was the focus. Gun control in the United States. Children being shot in schools. And now all of a sudden he releases this today.
CALLAN: Very, very suspicious.
VINOGRAD: There's another piece of this. And this is fitting with past patterns. Again the president in his tweets -- and I can't believe we're talking about the president's tweets, instead of Russia, things that he knows better than our justice system, and there's the outcome of an ongoing investigation before it's finished. We have a justice system that is functioning. Bob Mueller is conducting an investigation. We see more indictments coming every day and the president is I think, to your point, Julian, purposefully weighing in to distract from that investigation. Pretending he knows what the outcome is going to be in the same way that he cherry-picks what when he listens to his Intelligence Community or the secretary of State.
NOBLES: Yes. And it's also worth pointing out that there are probably a fair number of Trump supporters that will not read the full 10 pages of the memo but will get their impression of it through his Twitter feed.
ZELIZER: And what he's counting on is -- are all the media outlets on television and the Internet that basically support the conservative or the White House point of view, and so that tweet -- that tweet is intended for them. And the hope is they will share, convey and repeat that message.
ZELIZER: And then the memo --
VINOGRAD: With Russian bots supporting it, right? They're going into overdrive right now.
NOBLES: But it's effective. But the substance of this memo is important.
ZELIZER: Very important.
NOBLES: You know, we shouldn't -- we shouldn't lose sight of that and you know, we're going to continue to dig in to the -- through all of the important aspects that were revealed in this memo because the politics are one thing. But this memo does reveal quite a bit.
All right, everyone, thank you so much for your perspective. I appreciate it.
We are going to take a quick break. We'll have more reaction to the release of the Democratic rebuttal to the Nunes memo when we come back. Stay here.
[18:31:52] NOBLES: The breaking news tonight, the Democrats' rebuttal to the Nunes memo is out and they say it dismantles the Republican narrative that the FBI improperly surveilled Carter Page during the 2016 campaign.
Joining me now on the phone is Republican Congressman Peter King from Long Island. He also sits on the House Intelligence Committee.
Congressman, the president saying tonight that this memo's release is a total bust. Do you agree with the president's assessment?
REP. PETER KING (R), INTELLIGENCE COMMITTEE: Basically I do. I mean, as far as I'm concerned the Democratic memo rebuts almost nothing. The fact is that -- go back to the start. This -- the whole allegation, actually no allegation, has been proven at all or even suggested that there was collusion between the Trump campaign and the Russians.
As far as the wiretapping, the warrant against Carter Page, it's obvious that the Trump dossier which was paid for by the Democratic National Committee and the Hillary campaign committee was a prime reason why they got the warrant and they never told the court that. And I know there's all this misleading language at the end where it says that this could have had partisan purposes.
It's much different if you say that it was done actually by the presidential opponents. That was left out. Other than that, if they had so much evidence on Carter Page why do they have to wait until he got the dossier before they applied for the warrant? And Carter Page -- I don't know if anyone takes him seriously as a Russian agent including the Russians or the FBI, because he had worked with the FBI against the Russians back in 2013 and he never played a real role in the Trump campaign.
NOBLES: Well, to that point, Congressman King, the fact that he didn't play that important of a role, I mean, one of the major assertions in the Schiff memo is that the Justice Department did not use a FISA warrant to spy on the Trump campaign or to spy on Donald Trump. It says it did spy on Carter Page but it was only after he was no longer part of the campaign.
I mean, do you accept that assessment from the Schiff memo? This is from the Schiff memo, not from the Republican memo.
KING: Yes, well, first, the Republican memo never said that there was spying on the Trump campaign. They said that they got the search -- the warrant against Carter Page and they based it almost entirely or largely on the Steele dossier. And what was the purpose of doing that other than I would think to see if they could pick up conversations in the Trump campaign.
And the fact is Carter Page had nothing to do with it. When he was on the campaign he had nothing to do with it. Nobody ever asked him for anything, he never spoke to anyone of significance to the campaign, he never met with President Trump. And again you have a document paid for by the opposition party and the candidate. I think it's important to bring it out to the court's attention rather than use this interlocutory footnote.
NOBLES: Of course, Congressman, though, the Steele was initially funded by the Republican --
KING: Well, that's not true. That's totally untrue. What you're talking about is the "Washington Examiner" did hire the research firm to do research on Donald Trump and other candidates. But they had ended their relationship, the Steele dossier came in only after Clinton and the DNC got involved. The "Washington Examiner" -- no Republican had anything to do at all with the Steele dossier.
NOBLES: That was the "Washington Free Beacon," Congressman, not the "Washington Examiner."
[18:35:04] That is a conservative outlet. But I guess the point I would make about --
KING: No, no, no. This is wrong. This is again part of the misstatements that are being put out about the Trump campaign. The fact is that when you're talking about is preliminary research which had been ended. The Steele dossier -- Steele was not even in the picture until the other investigation was totally over. The Steele dossier came about and it was paid for entirely -- every word in the Steele dossier was achieved and accumulated and put together after the Clinton campaign and the DNC got involved.
NOBLES: Well, regardless, you make the point, the assertion that the FISA court did not have enough information about the political funding and the political leanings of the funding of the Steele dossier. But this memo does address that point. You're right that they don't specifically use the term DNC or the Hillary Clinton campaign. But it's their assessment that the court was very much aware of the fact that this was a group with the goal of digging up opposition research on then candidate Donald Trump. He's referred to as candidate one in the memo. Isn't that true?
KING: That's true that that's what Adam Schiff is saying. But I don't -- I practice law. If you have something that's clear cut as the Democratic Campaign Committee and the Hillary Clinton campaign paying for something, put that out. That would take one sentence to say. Not this roundabout language where it could be just somebody who has a political interest. Somebody who has a partisan interest. That's different. That could have been a commentator. That could have been a columnist. That could have been anyone out there.
But it's different if it's actually paid for by the person's opponent and by the Democratic National Committee. Why did they go to such efforts to me if they were serious they would have included it in there. And certainly many legal scholars I've spoken to feel that way. And again, when they talk about -- again in that memo about Carter Page being a Russian agent, listen, I don't know how anyone can take Carter Page seriously on anything. Certainly the FBI. And certainly the fact that he went to Moscow -- he was the only one to Moscow.
You know, he spoke at a public graduation over there. But Carter Page was never ever any kind of player in the Trump -- the Trump campaign. He never spoke to Donald Trump, never spoke to any of the top people in the campaign. And there's no evidence at all -- in fact he never spoke to anybody in the campaign about his trip to Moscow.
So why did they go to all this effort several weeks before the -- before election day based on a Trump dossier to be wiretapping Carter Page. And I have no -- I have no sympathy for Carter Page at all. I don't agree with anything he says but I also know from all the testimony I have listened to and I'm involved in the investigation that Carter Page had no real involvement with the Trump campaign before or after his trip to Moscow which was a public record.
NOBLES: Well, to that point, this memo essentially accuses Carter Page of lying to your committee. Do you think that happened from your perspective?
KING: No, I don't. I think Carter Page was all over the place. Carter Page, he didn't meet with people like on the stage when he was over there. And this was a -- if you're going to be involved in espionage, you're not going to be announcing you're going over to make a speech. He knows that the FBI was involved with him anyway because he was involved in a case back in 2013 when he worked with the FBI against a Russian operation and the FBI also knows that their investigation in that case said that Carter Page is an idiot and can never be used for any type of espionage.
So I can't believe they were taking him that seriously and again, if you're going to be doing espionage you're not going to be appearing on a stage at a major university in Moscow. So again, to me this was some kind of an attempt by the FBI to use this as a way to investigate and also I go back to -- I want to make it clear, after all this investigation there's not one hint yet of evidence of any collusion between the Trump campaign and Russia.
NOBLES: Now but one other key point that the dossier makes that I want to get your response to.
NOBLES: You know, the Nunes memo essentially says that the foundation of the investigation was the Steele dossier but according to what this memo reveals the investigation began seven weeks before the Steele dossier became a part of their research. Does that square with your understanding as to how this investigation began?
KING: Yes, and that if anything to me weakens the FBI's case here. They based that investigation on a 28-year-old person on the staff, Papadopoulos, who in a drunken conversation to an Australian diplomat said that the Russians came to him and said they had evidence on Hillary Clinton. There's absolutely no evidence that any -- that anything was ever given to Papadopoulos, that Papadopoulos everyone backed and presented to anybody on the Trump campaign.
And again, Papadopoulos was never any kind of a major player. He had one picture taken on in the campaign and after that he was not involved at all. So if that was the basis of an investigation which then ultimately led to a wiretap, that's to me pretty flimsy grounds.
NOBLES: Well, I mean, Papadopoulos has pled guilty for his role in all of this with the special counsel so --
[18:40:04] KING: He pled guilty to lying to the FBI. And he may well have. Certainly not involved as far as any collusion with the Russians, that's for sure.
NOBLES: All right. And last question for you, Congressman King. And we appreciate you joining us on short notice. In its footnote the Schiff memo uses language from the FISA warrant application itself. I mean, do you think that we're getting closer to seeing the full FISA application and do you think that should happen? This is something Republicans have asked for for a long time.
KING: Yes, I think so. Again, unless there's something in there that really would hurt national security. And I'm now being very serious about this. That if there's anything in there that could disclose a source or the method that the FBI uses that should be taken out. But other than that, I think unless it's something that directly involves national security, it should be made public. Especially after all the talk that's gone on over the last 18 months. Absolutely. NOBLES: OK. Congressman Peter King, thank you so much for your
perspective. Republican member of the House Intelligence Committee on this news that the Democratic rebuttal memo to the Nunes memo has been released.
And we are going to talk -- get another perspective on this, Congressman Mike Quigley, a Democrat, also on the House Intelligence Committee. He'll join me and I'll ask him what he thinks about the Schiff memo release. That's coming up after the break. Stay here.
[18:45:36] NOBLES: Our breaking news this evening, memo wars. Democrats in the House Intelligence Committee releasing a rebuttal to the controversial Nunes memo and its claims of bias in the Russian probe.
Joining me now by phone is a Democratic member of the House Intelligence Committee, Mike Quigley.
Congressman, I want to get your reaction first to what the president tweeted. We're going to put it up on the screen. It says, quote, "The Democratic memo response on government surveillance abuses is total political and legal bust. Just confirms all the terrible things that were done. So illegal." And then there's this. "The Dem memo, the FBI did not disclose who the clients were. The Clinton campaign and the DNC," and the president says, "Wow."
Congressman Quigley, your response to the president's reaction to the release of this memo.
REP. MIKE QUIGLEY (D), INTELLIGENCE COMMITTEE: It's a big surprise. Delusional from day one. I -- it's the best way to describe it. And let's recall a few other things. Devin Nunes, the chairman of the Intel Committee, did not deny that he worked with the White House to coordinate on this memo. It is a -- the majority memo. And it's a memo that the president said completely exonerates him. He releases it with very, very little scrutiny despite the fact that the FBI had grave concerns about its accuracy.
The Justice Department said it was extraordinarily reckless. While on the other hand, our memo is released after working hand in hand with those agencies to make sure we weren't being reckless and that this did not release additional classified information.
NOBLES: Now, Congressman, you're right in that fact that you did work with the Justice Department and the FBI after the memo initially went to the White House. But we should point out that the FBI still did not want this memo to be released because of national security concerns. They felt the same way about the Republican memo.
Why do you think that it was still important for this memo to be released despite those concerns by the Justice Department and the FBI?
QUIGLEY: Well, first, I think the first memo shouldn't have been released and I think their view of the second memo is that it did not release any additional classified information. There's a world of difference. Let's understand what the second memo does. It rebuts the majority's point by point including evidence which I think bolsters the credibility of the investigation. What it will not do is undo the damage of the first and its reckless use of classified material in revealing sources and methods.
And it will not by itself restore the trust between the Intel Community and Congress. And finally, it has been a colossal waste of time. We'll probably know in five weeks where absolutely no work was done on this investigation by the House. It is part of a pattern of behavior to deflect, distract and I think obstruct what we're trying to accomplish.
NOBLES: Well, to that point about a colossal waste of time, Congressman, wasn't there an argument to be made that once the Republican memo was released that you could just give your opinions on it and then just move on as opposed to allowing this drama surrounding the rebuttal of this memo continue? You've had just the same amount of impact as to the American public's perspective of this without releasing this memo and essentially continuing this conversation?
QUIGLEY: I think we wanted an academic response, a good, solid, legal response. Because just our opinions of this isn't going to do much to help restore the credibility of the campaign. I think if legal experts reviewed both documents, they're going to side with us. And all the while that doesn't mean that we couldn't continue the investigation. But what we're seeing now is a continuation of those distractions.
Understand the (INAUDIBLE) Republicans are going along with this White House on a gag order. We had Mr. Bannon, if we're trying to find out if there was collusion or what took place, he comes to us and says I have instructions from the White House. Here are the 25 questions that you can ask me and here are my answers. That is absolutely no way to conduct an investigation.
NOBLES: OK. Congressman Mike Quigley of Illinois, a member of the House Intelligence Committee. Congressman, thank you for joining us.
[18:50:01] And up next, as we learn more about red flags missed by the FBI about the gunman in Parkland, Florida, including tips that were never acted upon, some teachers return to school for the first time since the shooting yesterday. I'll talk to a teacher who was there when we come back.
NOBLES: Wednesday will be a tough one for students and teachers at Florida's Marjory Stoneman Douglas High. Classes resumed two weeks to the day after a gunman opened fire killing 17. It won't be a full day of classes and counselors will be standing by. There will also be lots of law enforcement in plain sight.
[18:55:01] Teachers, though, returned to the school yesterday. Therapy dogs, two golden retrievers were there to greet them. And one of those teachers, Sara Lerner, joins me now. She teaches Senior English and Introduction to Journalism.
Sarah, first of all, my condolences to you and your school family. I can't imagine what all of you are going through right now. I have to ask you what was it like --
SARAH LERNER, TEACHER AT MARJORY STONEMAN DOUGLAS HIGH SCHOOL: Thank you.
NOBLES: What was it like to walk back into your school for the first time yesterday?
LERNER: It was bittersweet. I hadn't been back to campus since the 16th, which is when we were allowed to get our cars. So I walked in with a group of friends and we had breakfast in the cafeteria. And it was -- it was nice to be back together. It kind of felt like the first day of teacher planning week. But then it felt really odd to be there on a Friday knowing that there were no students there.
NOBLES: Right. And of course, your students are going to return on Wednesday. I imagine you've been in contact with many of your students throughout this process. Do you think that they're prepared for this step in the process?
LERNER: Yes. I think they are as prepared as any of us can be. It's going to be our new normal for a while. It's very strange being there, you know, from my classroom, I can see the 1200 Building. I went up to my room yesterday and I kind of had a little anxiety attack while I was in there. It was just -- it was just as if time stood still. You know, it almost looked like I had just left my room a mess on Friday, and went in Monday, and was kicking myself for not cleaning up on Friday.
I think the kids are nervous, but we are all nervous. There's no -- my principal keeps saying there is no page in the hand or the playbook about this.
LERNER: So, you know, we're all just kind of figuring it out as we go.
NOBLES: Right. It isn't something that you prepare for. But unfortunately this is something that others have gone through before. Have you been able to talk to anybody who's been through something like this before, returning to school after a tragedy like this?
LERNER: I have not. I know that people have reached out to other teachers and people within the school and the school district. But I haven't spoken to anyone who has been through something along these lines before.
NOBLES: Well, you probably didn't expect this either. But now your school and many of your students are right squarely in the middle of an enormous political debate about the future of guns in our country. And the president has been talking about teachers quite a bit over the past couple of weeks. I want to read to you what he tweeted earlier today. This is what the
president said, 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 training. Should get yearly bonuses. Shootings will not happen again. A big and very inexpensive deterrent. Up to states."
I wonder someone -- this is a policy that would impact you directly. Is this something that you could ever support?
LERNER: No, I will never support teachers being armed. There are too many unknown variables. And I don't need a gun in my classroom. I was on CNN the other night and I explained if I had had a gun in my room, it would have been locked in my closet and by the time I got my keys to get this gun, I would have been shot.
There is no reason for me to be armed. There is no reason to give me a bonus for giving me a gun. Put that money in teachers' paychecks and our pockets. Put that money in some more school security and additional law enforcement on campus.
LERNER: Don't give me a bonus and don't give me a gun.
NOBLES: You mentioned the idea of a new normal, right? I mean, this is -- you're never going to be able to go back in time and have this incident not be a part of your past. Do you think that's going to be the biggest adjustment trying to find a way to live with the fact that this is now part of your life experience?
LERNER: Yes. I mean, I lost two students. One I had as a freshman and the other one I had this year. And it will be very strange having an empty seat in my classroom. It will be strange not seeing the teachers and faculty around campus who we lost. I think it's going to be an adjustment period for all of us. Not -- you know, even if you didn't lose a friend in this, you know, none of the classes are back in that building. So everyone is displaced.
And, you know, it's going to be an adjustment period for all of us. But I believe that we have the support of the country behind us and the school district has been tremendous in getting us all of the counseling and help that we need.
LERNER: And I have the world's most wonderful principal and administrative staff. And I have told the kids, you know, we went through this together and we're going to get through this together. And, you know, there is really no -- there's really -- as prepared as you think you are --
SARAH LERNER, TEACHER, STONEMAN DOUGLAS HIGH SCHOOL: And, you know, there is really no -- as prepared as you think you are, you don't realize how unprepared you are until you step on campus. I felt fine. Then I got up to my room and it just wasn't good.
RYAN NOBLES, CNN CORRESPONDENT: OK. Sarah Lerner, we will have you in our thoughts this week. We can't imagine what it's going to be going back to school. We appreciate you being with us. Thank you for joining us tonight.
LERNER: Thank you for having me.
NOBLES: And I'm Ryan Nobles. I will be back here 8:00. Stay tuned though. The VAN JONES SHOW starts right now.