Former CIA Director John Brennan accused Rep. Devin Nunes of California, the Republican chair of the House Intelligence Committee, of abusing his position by spearheading the release of a “cherry-picked” classified memo to protect President Trump.
“Devin Nunes over the past several months has been engaged in tactics purely to defend, make excuses and try to protect Mr. Trump,” Brennan said on NBC’s “Meet the Press.” “He has abused the office of the chairmanship and I don't say that lightly.”
Brennan, who led the CIA in the Obama administration, accused Nunes of acting to protect Trump from potential vulnerability in special counsel Robert Mueller’s Russia probe by releasing a memo that accuses the FBI and Justice Department of abusing their surveillance powers in their investigation.
The memo alleges the FBI misled the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court in obtaining a secret warrant to monitor former Trump campaign adviser Carter Page, who U.S. authorities suspected was a Russian agent.
Republicans allege the FBI did not tell the court that they were relying partially on information they had received from a dossier complied by an ex-British spy, Christopher Steele, who was working for an opposition research firm hired by the Hillary Clinton campaign and the Democratic National Committee.
The New York Times and others have reported the FBI did tell the court that Steele’s information was funded by a political entity, though it did not specifically name the DNC or Clinton campaign.
House Democrats are eager to release their own memo, which they say would provide more context and tell a different story. The Democratic memo has been made available to all members of the House, but it has not yet been made public, which Republicans say is the proper process to go through.
“The fact that Devin Nunes and Republicans denied the ability of the minority, the Democratic members of that committee, to put out its report is just appalling and I think it really underscores just how partisan Mr. Nunes has been,” Brennan said.
“If there are issues related to the process involving FISA and if there are concerns about how forthcoming the bureau is, he [Nunes] could have hearings. He could bring in the members of the FBI and others and to really seek what needs to be done differently. But he didn't do that. He just put out publicly one side and a very selective cherry-picked memo.”