Rep. Trey Gowdy told FNC’s Bret Baier on FOX News Sunday that while there are documents he has not seen, he knows that if there were any evidence that President Trump committed any crime with regard to Russia “Adam Schiff would have leaked it.”
Schiff, the top Democrat on the House Intelligence Committee, said this week that President Trump is compromised by the Russians, offering possible recordings of his meeting with Putin as evidence. Later on Sunday morning, Schiff suggested Trump’s businesses were Russian money laundering operations.
“I have not seen one scintilla of evidence that this president colluded, conspired, collaborated, with Russia. And neither has anyone else, or you can rest assured, Adam Schiff would have leaked it,” Gowdy said. “That is why they have moved on from collusion on to obstruction of justice, which is now their current preoccupation.”
BAIER HOST: And hello again from FOX News in Washington.
The tension following President Trump’s meeting with Vladimir Putin continues to rise this weekend as the president faces widespread criticism over his handling of Russia after he seemed to side with Putin’s denials of election interference, at least at first.
Joining me now from South Carolina, Congressman Trey Gowdy, chairman of the House Oversight Committee.
Mr. Chairman, thanks for being here.
REP. TREY GOWDY (R-SC), CHAIRMAN, HOUSE OVERSIGHT COMMITTEE: Yes, sir. Thank you.
BAIER: You know, after the president’s meeting with Vladimir Putin and that much analyzed press conference in Helsinki, your colleague, Republican colleague from Texas, Congressman Will Hurd, a former CIA officer wrote an op-ed for “The New York Times” and it was entitled, “Trump is Being Manipulated by Putin. What should we do?”
And in it, the Texas Republican writes, quote: Over the course of my career as an undercover officer in the CIA, I saw Russian intelligence manipulate many people. I never thought I would see the day when an American president would be one of them.
So, do you agree with Congressman Hurd? Is the president being manipulated by Vladimir Putin?
GOWDY: Well, Will has a background as a CIA officer. I defer to him on manipulation.
I can tell you this, Bret, the president has access to every bit of evidence, even more than those of us on House intel. And Will and I serve on intel. He has access to Pompeo and Chris Wray and Dan Coats and Nikki Haley.
The evidence is overwhelming. It can be proven beyond any evidentiary burden that Russia is not our friend and they tried to attack us in 2016. So, the president either needs to rely on the people that he has chosen to advise him, or those advisors need to reevaluate whether or not they can serve in this administration.
But the disconnect cannot continue. The evidence is overwhelming and the president needs to say that and act like it.
BAIER: So, he eventually set it through the week, Congressman, but what do you think was the evolution there? Why the hesitation?
GOWDY: I don’t know. I watched the press conference. It wasn’t just that line. It was — the president missed, I think, a really good opportunity to distinguish the United States from any other country, but especially from Russia, and I don’t know what was said in a private conversation.
But I do know this — we got a classified briefing this week, Bret. There is no way you can listen to the evidence and not conclude, not that the Democrats were the victims, but the United States of America were the victims. We were the victims of what Russia did in 2016, and it ought to be a source of unity and rallying around the fact that we are never going to allow this to happen again and we’re going to punish those who try to do it.
And there was this equivocation during the press conference that I’m glad he corrected it, but when you’re the leader of the free world, every syllable matters and you really shouldn’t be having to correct it when you’re the leader of the free world.
BAIER: As you mentioned, after several days of kind of dealing with the rhetorical walk-back, the White House announced on Twitter that the senior task had been tasked to set up a second summit, Vladimir Putin coming to Washington this fall. And that obviously caught many here in Washington by surprise.
It also caught the president’s director of national intelligence by surprise, who is doing an interview in Aspen at the time. Take a listen.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
ANDREA MITCHELL, NBC NEWS: The White House has announced on Twitter that Vladimir Putin is coming to the White House in the fall.
DAN COATS, DIRECTOR OF NATIONAL INTELLIGENCE: Say that again?
COATS: That’s going to be special.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BAIER: Now, the DNI released a statement last night apologizing, saying he didn’t mean to be critical or disrespectful in his reaction and response. But do you think it’s strange that the director of national intelligence didn’t know about the invite before it went out?
GOWDY: I do think it’s strange. I also think this, Bret, I think that the United States of America sometimes has to meet with people that we don’t have anything in common with. I think our president has to meet with the leader of North Korea. We have to lead — meet with the leader from Iran.
But it’s very different to issue an invitation. This country is different. We do things differently. We set the moral standard for the rest of the world.
The fact that we have to talk to you about Syria or other matters is very different from issuing an invitation. Those should be reserved for, I think, our allies like Great Britain and Canada and Australia and those who are with us day in and day out.
They should — I think we should be very judicious in who we invite and place that in perimeter (ph) of acceptance on. So, I would hope the president would keep that in mind if we are issuing invitations to foreign leaders.
BAIER: I want to return to the investigation. Overnight, responding to Freedom of Information requests, the Department of Justice released a heavily redacted FISA court request by the FBI, asking for permission to surveil or listen into Carter Page. A fairly low-level figure in the Trump campaign or orbit but one the FBI suspected, according to these documents, of colluding with Russian agents and may be being one.
I know you read this months ago, but it’s the first time one of these kind of documents is out in the public domain, even heavily redacted. What is your take on this?
GOWDY: My take is that Carter Page is more like Inspector Gadget then he is Jason Bourne or James Bond. Trump never met him. Trump never had a conversation with him. I’m sure he’s been on the FBI’s radar for a long time, well before 2016.
Here’s what we’ll never know, Bret — we’ll never know whether or not the FBI had enough without the dossier, the unvetted DNC-funded dossier because they included it and everyone who reads this FISA application sees the amount of reliance they placed on this product funded by Hillary Clinton’s campaign and the DNC. So, that’s point number one, is the dossier and its use.
The other thing I hope my fellow citizens will take note of is the FBI missed a really good opportunity to tell the judge exactly who paid for that. If you look at the footnote, it takes a lot more effort to define it the way they did, where you have no idea who funded it, then just to come right out and say the DNC hired Perkins Coie who hired Fusion GPS who hired Christopher Steele.
There, done. That’s an easy footnote, everybody can follow it. But for whatever reason, the FBI decided not to represent that to a court.
BAIER: So, Carter Page is never indicted. He hasn’t been brought in.
GOWDY: Not yet.
BAIER: He is still walking around.
GOWDY: Yes, and that — I mean, look, this is an investigation. All investigations don’t lead to indictments. There have been two dozen indictments in this case but Carter Page is not one of them.
I have a different standard between investigating something and someone. And keep in mind, and counterintelligence investigations are never designed to become public. So, you and I were not supposed to be having a conversation about Carter Page on national television.
This case is different. He has not been indicted. He is presumed innocent. He’ll be presumed innocent even if he is indicted. I don’t have an issue with looking into people that have cozy relationships with Russia. That’s fine. That’s what law enforcement supposed to do.
I do have an issue when you rely on political opposition research that is unvetted and you represent that to a court and use it to spy on an American.
BAIER: You have seen this document long ago, but are there documents that you know exist that you have yet to see?
GOWDY: Some. The McCabe memos, which came up during the Lisa Page interview.
BAIER: Andrew McCabe, number two at the FBI who became acting director after Comey leaves.
GOWDY: Right. As soon as you become acting director, apparently, you make a decision to memorialize all of your conversations with the president, even while you are applying for the job I hasten to add. But I have not seen the McCabe memos. There were other references that Lisa Page made the documents and files that I think Congress is entitled to see.
I’ve seen as much if not more than any other member of Congress, which is why I am so adamant that Russia is not our friend and they tried to attack us.
BAIER: Are you equally adamant that the president is not — has not colluded with Russia?
GOWDY: I have not seen one scintilla of evidence that this president colluded, conspired, confederated with Russia. And neither has anyone else, or you may rest assured Adam Schiff would have leaked it. So, that’s why they’ve moved off of collusion onto obstruction of justice, which is now their current preoccupation.
BAIER: You mentioned Lisa Page. She and Peter Strzok, these two figures, FBI agent and FBI attorney, who had been texting back and forth. They were lovers, had some very heated, aggressive anti-Trump texts.
One that said we can’t take a risk, it’s an insurance policy. Another that said an investigation leading to impeachment, you and I both know the odds are nothing. I thought — If I thought it was likely there would be no question I would go over to Bob Mueller, that’s what he’s talking about. I hesitate in part because my gut sense and concern is there’s no big there there.
Lisa Page was up on Capitol Hill. Did she say they were talking about there’s no there there in the Russia case?
GOWDY: — it can be. She was a much better witness than Peter Strzok. Look, she hates Republicans, including the one you are talking to, but she had a credibility about herself and how she answered our questions that Peter Strzok never bothered to have.
Take a look at that text. That’s from Peter Strzok and he’s concerned that there is no big there there. He’s not optimistic that there is not, he’s not hopeful there’s not. This is a career counterintelligence agent who is concerned that this investigation will not lead to impeachment.
So, it’s already led to indictments. It’s already led to our understanding that Russia is not our friend. You have a wonderful opportunity to safeguard our 2018 elections.
None of that was enough for him, Bret. It had to be impeachment, and that was his concern is that there was no big there there. And that’s why he was not sure he wanted to participate in this investigation.
That is sad. It is pathetic that a career FBI agent would only be interested in impeachment, which is why he has no credibility and she actually does have some.
BAIER: So, Trump supporters look at that, former CIA Director John Brennan, former FBI Director James Comey, what he said, what they’ve said. And they say they understand why the president feels a little inquisitive about where things are going.
GOWDY: Yes, Bret, you don’t even have to be a Trump supporter to be mindful of the fact that John Brennan thinks he’s guilty of a crime for which he can be hanged, that John Brennan thinks he should be in the dustbin of history, that Jim Comey thinks impeachment is too good of a remedy and Jim Comey now thinks that everyone should vote Democrat so Bernie Sanders will be the head of the budget committee and Dianne Feinstein will be the head of intel.
I mean, these are the people that were supposed to be dispassionately, objectively investigating a fact pattern and they have much animus against Donald Trump as anything I have seen in my eight years in politics. Add into that, Peter Strzok, Lisa Page and the other unidentified FBI agents who also wanted him to resign or be impeached or thought he was destabilizing.
So if you are Donald Trump and you see all of these people in positions of responsibility that think you ought to be — that you’re guilty of treason, a crime for which you can be put to death, by the way. That’s what John Brennan said.
So, what I would encourage the president, those are all people from yesterday. You have your own people in place now and it is possible to conclude that Russia interfered with us and it still does not delegitimize your presidency. That’s where I would encourage the president to go.
Russia is not our friend. We need to be very careful dealing with them but that does not take away from the fact that he won the 2016 election, much to the chagrin of Brennan, Comey and all the rest.