MARGARET BRENNAN: Now, we should dig into this. Because you are, from my understanding, the only Republican investigator on the House Intelligence Committee who actually viewed the FISA applications. Everything that went into essentially putting together this memo. So, when you’re talking about this Steele memo, you are not saying that it was the sole piece of evidence used to justify these four authorizations of the surveillance warrant. Are you?
REP. GOWDY: No. It was not the exclusive information relied upon by— by the FISA court.
MARGARET BRENNAN: Would it have been authorized were it not for that dossier?
REP. GOWDY: No. It would not have been.
MARGARET BRENNAN: How can you say that? Because it was authorized four times by separate judges.
REP. GOWDY: Right. And the information was in there all four times.
MARGARET BRENNAN: Mm-hm.
REP. GOWDY: And the judge doesn’t do independent research. There are three Republicans that have seen every bit of information. Three of us: Bob Goodlatte, the chairman of the Judiciary; Johnny Ratcliffe, who’s a former terrorism prosecutor and U.S. attorney in Texas, and me. All three of us have total confidence in the FBI and DOJ to be able to do the jobs that they have been assigned. We have confidence in Bob Mueller, and we have serious consideration— serious concerns about this process. So, we have all three of those things in common, including being concerned about what—what happened in 2016.
MARGARET BRENNAN: Should all the information in the FISA applications be publicly disclosed, declassified so that people can make their own judgment and see what you’ve seen?
REP. GOWDY: — I think I’m going to defer a little bit to the bureau and DOJ on— it’s a long application. If there are sources and methods that are— are not already known, that they think would jeopardize national security, I would— I would defer to their judgment. The source that we revealed, Chris Steele, was about the least well-kept secret in America.
MARGARET BRENNAN: Mm-hm.
REP. GOWDY: So, generally I— I err on the side of transparency and disclosure.
MARGARET BRENNAN: Mm-hm.
REP. GOWDY: On the other hand, there’s a reason that this process is usually confidential, and— and I don’t want to set the precedent of all FISA applications being publicly seen.
MARGARET BRENNAN: Well, that’s the concern in doing this memo, that you have set a new precedent.
REP. GOWDY: — I— I would argue it’s also somewhat unprecedented to rely on political opposition research to instruct and inform an application, and it’s really bad precedent and unprecedented to not tell a court that a source has this level of bias.
I mean, look at just the disclosure of who paid for it. They could have easily said it was the DNC and—and Hillary Clinton. That would have been really easy. I read the footnote. I— I know exactly what the footnote says. It took longer to explain it the way they did, than if they just come right out and said, “Hillary Clinton for America and DNC paid for it.” But they didn’t do that.
MARGARET BRENNAN: But short of that disclosure, you still would have believed this FISA surveillance warrant was justified? I mean, it— your— your problem is in the disclosure within the application, but the surveillance itself of this American, Carter Page — was named in your memo, who was at one point a Trump campaign associate — was that justified, that surveillance?
REP. GOWDY: Um, we’ll never know, because the application contained three parts: it — it included the dossier, it included reference to a newspaper article which by the way no court in America considers a newspaper article to be evidence, and it included other information they had on Carter Page. So what I would say to the FBI and DOJ is if you had enough on Carter Page with just him, why did you include something that the National Enquirer might not run? And why did you cite a newspaper article when there’s no court in America that allows a newspaper article to be considered as evidence? If you had enough without it, why did you use it? That would be my question to them.
MARGARET BRENNAN: Were the judges political? Four times, this was approved.
REP. GOWDY: No. I— I— the judges are only as good as what’s put in front of them. Judges don’t do independent research. So, you’re looking at—
MARGARET BRENNAN: Well, this is an —
REP. GOWDY: — this stack of paper.
MARGARET BRENNAN: — an extensive process from— from what I’m told. I mean, this isn’t just something people sign off on quickly. It’s, you know, a sizable application with, as you said, multi-part information that’s submitted.
REP. GOWDY: But that’s true for —
MARGARET BRENNAN: Were the judges not doing their jobs?
REP. GOWDY: No, I think they were. I mean, judges signed Title 3 applications all the time. They sign search warrants. They sign arrest warrants. There’s a reason the affiant swears to the truthfulness of the underlying information.
Judges can’t then go research and say, “Well, gosh I wonder if Chris Steele knew this all himself or — wonder if he was relying on hearsay from sub-sources in Russia?” That’s not the judge’s job. It is the FBI and DOJ’s job to present full, credible information to the court. So, I don’t— look, I’ll never miss a chance to blame judges if I can, because I was a former litigator. There’s nothing judges can do about information that is not presented to them.