Rep. Trey Gowdy: Steele Memo Critical to Surveillance Warrant of Carter Page

On ‘Face the Nation,’ the South Carolina Republican said that “we’ll never know” if surveillance of Trump adviser Carter Page was justified.

REUTERS/Kevin Lamarque

The only Republican on the House Intelligence Committee to actually see the FISA warrant application that led to the surveillance of a former Trump campaign adviser said on Sunday that the warrant would never have been authorized without the inclusion of a now-infamous dossier funded by President Donald Trump’s opponents.

Rep. Trey Gowdy (R-S.C.), speaking on CBS News’ Face the Nation, told White House correspondent Margaret Brennan that the application for FBI surveillance on Carter Page “would not have been” approved without the inclusion of British ex-spy Christopher Steele’s infamous dossier.

“We’ll never know” if the surveillance warrant on Page was justified, Gowdy said, because “the judges are only as good as what’s put in front of them.”

On Friday, President Trump declassified a four-page Republican memo which alleged that the inclusion of allegations from the Steele dossier in the FISA warrant application called into question the “legitimacy and legality of certain [Justice Department] and FBI interactions with the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court.”

The FBI and the Justice Department had both discouraged the memo’s declassification, with the nation’s top law-enforcement agency saying on Wednesday that it had “grave concerns about material omissions of fact that fundamentally impact the memo’s accuracy.”

Calling the investigation against him and his associates “an American disgrace,” President Trump on Saturday tweeted that the memo “totally vindicates ‘Trump’ in probe.”

But Gowdy, who announced his retirement from Congress this week, wouldn’t go that far.

“I don’t think it has any impact on the Russian probe,” Gowdy said. “There is a Russia investigation without a dossier... The dossier has nothing to do with the meeting at Trump Tower. It also doesn’t have anything to do with obstruction of justice, so there’s going to be a Russia probe with or without the dossier.”

Gowdy also stated that, despite the insistence of the president and some members of his own party, he still supports FBI Director Christopher Wray and Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein in their roles at the bureau.

“You can disagree with the decision-making process that someone engaged in without believing that person is corrupt ,” Gowdy said. “There’s a wide gulf between me having differences with somebody and thinking they should lose their job.”

The South Carolina Republican also went out of his way to laud special counsel Robert Mueller, who has been tasked with investigating Russian attempts to interfere with the U.S. presidential election in 2016—as well as possible links between the Trump campaign and the Kremlin.

“I am on record as saying I support Bob Mueller 100 percent,” Gowdy said. “Look, Russia tried to interfere with our election in 2016, with or without a dossier. So you need an investigation into Russia. You need an investigation into the Trump Tower and the Cambridge Analytica email, separate and apart from the dossier. So those are not connected issues to me. They may be for Republicans, but they're not for me.”