'This Week' Transcript 2-4-18: Rep. Will Hurd and Rep. Adam Schiff

PHOTO: Rep. Will Hurd, left, participates in a news conference, Jan. 16, 2018. | Adam Schiff speaks on May 17, 2017. PlayGetty Images
WATCH House Intel's top Democrat: Declassified GOP memo 'is impeaching the FBI'

ANNOUNCER: This Week with George Stephanopoulos starts right now.

GEORGE STEPHANOPOULOS, HOST: The president's memo.

DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I think it's a disgrace. The memo was sent to congress. It was declassified.

STEPHANOPOULOS: Defying and targeting the FBI. Democrats and intelligence professionals pounds.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The memo is just false. It makes a number of factually inaccurate assertions.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It is a pretty blatant political act.

STEPHANOPOULOS: The memo didn't match the hype, but President Trump now claims it vindicates his attacks on the Russia investigation. What does it really prove? Will the president now move to control the probe, fire the man in charge? How will congress respond?

Questions for the top Democrat on the House intelligence committee, Adam Schiff, Republican member Will Hurd, who served in the CIA, plus insight and analysis from our panel of national security and legal experts.

And...

TRUMP: '18 is going to be very interesting.

STEPHANOPOULOS: We're on the road for the mid-terms.

MIKE PENCE, VICE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Well, hello Pennsylvania.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: This is a race with serious national implications.

STEPHANOPOULOS: Our first look at the crucial battlegrounds.

Plus, all the week's politics on our powerhouse roundtable. We'll break down the politics, smoke out the spin. The facts that matter this week.

ANNOUNCER: From ABC News, it's This Week. Here now chief anchor George Stephanopoulos.

STEPHANOPOULOS: Good morning. President Trump ramped up his war on the FBI this week, signaling he'll do whatever it takes to discredit the Russia probe. He has already fired one FBI director, forced out a deputy, publicly attacked his attorney general, and threatened other officials behind closed doors.

And it all broke open Friday when the president declassified that infamous memo from Republicans on the House intelligence committee.

The president and his allies claim it shows that the FBI wrongly convinced a judge to approve a wiretap against a former campaign adviser, Carter Page, by relying on a dossier paid for by the Clinton campaign, and by failing to disclose that funding.

Democrats, whose own rebuttal memo has been blocked by the GOP, say that's simply not true. They're backed by a host of independent experts, and this statement from the FBI: "we have grave concerns about material omissions of fact that fundamentally impact the memos accuracy."

And that drew a fierce response from President Trump. The top leadership and investigators at the FBI and the Justice Department have politisized the sacred investigative process in favor of the Democrats."

I want to start with our chief justice correspondent Pierre Thomas. And Pierre, you've been covering the FBI/DOJ for 20 years. We've never seen anything like this, an open battle between the president and law enforcement.

PIERRE THOMAS, ABC NEWS: George, good morning. This is an extraordinary moment and these are extraordinary times with the tension between the White House and the FBI seeming to grow day to day and sometimes minute by minute.

This is what I'm hearing from inside the FBI, they're willing to acknowledge that agents and officials sometimes make mistakes, but many believe the president and his allies are engaged in an all out assault on the very integrity of their institution.

So, as a result, we're seeing rare, it not unprecedented moves by FBI officials to push back. On Friday, the 13,000 member FBI Agents Association put out a statement which basically accused House Republicans on the intelligence committee of playing politics in releasing that controversial memo.

The association saying the FBI would not yield to, quote, partisan politics. And you have the FBI director Chris Wray, after getting nowhere in pleading with the White House not to release that memo, drawing a line of independence in the sand, authorizing the statement that talked about the bureaus, as you said, grave concerns about the memo, which was what it said was full of material omissions and inaccuracies.

We don't yet know how the president is going to react to Director Wray's very public push back. How the relationship unfolds in the coming days to me is critical to watch, George.

STEPHANOPOULOS: Yeah, he also -- the director also spoke by video to all the FBI employees as well.

There had been some nervousness in some corners of the White House that he might resign.

THOMAS: Well, I'm hearing that Wray and Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein both love the institutions that they work for. And they don't plan to resign immediately. Both plan to put their heads down and keep working.

But the president is obviously the wild card. He has publicly criticized Attorney General Jeff Sessions, tweeted negative things about Rod Rosenstein, and said the FBI's reputation is in tatters.

George, the president clearly believes he's been abused by the Justice Department and believes that the Russia investigation is unnecessary. His aggressive style is different from his predecessors, which his supporters says is his right. But make no mistake his constant pressure on the Justice Department is not the norm. And critics said it creates the impression that he's trying to control the institutions that are supposed to have a level of independence to investigate national security matters without political interference.

STEPHANOPOULOS: One final question, you know Rod Rosenstein pretty well. If the president ordered him to fire Robert Mueller would he obey?

THOMAS: George, Rosenstein said he will not fire Mueller without cause. And the one person, George, that we've not heard from this week, not one peep, not one word, is the special counsel. By all accounts he is digging, and he is digging hard -- George.

STEPHANOPOULOS: OK. Thanks, Pierre.

We are joined now by the top Democrat on the House Intelligence Committee, Adam Schiff.

Congressman, thanks for joining us this morning. I want to begin with President Trump’s tweet from yesterday. Put it up on screen there. He says: “The memo totally vindicates 'Trump' in probe, but the Russia witch hunt goes on and on. There was no collusion, there was no obstruction. The word now used because after one year of looking endlessly and finding nothing, collusion is dead. This is an American disgrace.”

The memo vindicates Trump?

REP. ADAM SCHIFF (D-CA), RANKING MEMBER, INTELLIGENCE COMMITTEE: Of course not at all. And in fact, on the issue of collusion, what the memo indicates is the investigation didn’t begin with Carter Page, it actually began with George Papadopoulos, someone who was a foreign policy adviser for candidate Trump and someone who was meeting secretly with the Russians and talking about the stolen Clinton emails.

So quite to the contrary, even this very flawed memo demonstrates what the origin of the investigation was and that origin involved the issue of collusion.

STEPHANOPOULOS: And -- and that’s one of the problems you’ve pointed out with the memo. I want to dig into some of the other ones that have been raised. Number one, the memo says that the FISA court should have been told that the dossier was financed by Democrats and Hillary Clinton’s campaign. That’s relevant information, isn’t it?

SCHIFF: It is relevant information to alert the FISA court is there a political motivation, was there a political actor involved. And the court was notified a political actor was involved. And that’s part of the misleading nature of the FISA application. In terms of the identity of the political actor, the most important information for the court is, what did Christopher Steele know? And Glenn Simpson has testified that Christopher Steele was not told the identity of the lawyer or the party behind the lawyer.

That’s the most important information, evaluating Christopher Steele’s bias.

STEPHANOPOULOS: But you’re saying the court was told that the dossier was funded by a political actor?

SCHIFF: Yes, that there was a political actor behind it. And this is, again, part of the misleading character of this document. And, George, I want to, you know, comment on this claim by my Republican colleagues that this is oversight. They’re just doing this as a matter of oversight in asking these questions about why wasn’t this included.

If this was oversight, the committee members would want to read the underlying documents. I made a motion to allow them to read the documents. They voted it down. I made a motion to bring the FBI in and ask the FBI these questions. You know, why was this included, why was that not included. That’s what oversight looks like. That’s the oversight we’ve done for 10 years...

STEPHANOPOULOS: You’ve read the underlying documents?

SCHIFF: I have and they voted that down. They voted against hearing from the FBI. When you do oversight, you haul them in under oath. You say, why was this included, why wasn’t that included? The interest wasn’t oversight. The interest was a political hit job on the FBI in the service of the president.

STEPHANOPOULOS: They also point out in the memo, a quote from Andrew McCabe, the former deputy director of the FBI, who they say said no surveillance warrant would have been sought from the FISA court without the Steele dossier information. I know you’ve said McCabe didn’t say that. Here’s how Chairman Nunes responded on FOX.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

REP. DEVIN NUNES (R-CA), CHAIRMAN, INTELLIGENCE COMMITTEE: That is definitely what he said. Not to mention we have other witnesses who said very similar things.

BRET BAIER, FOX ANCHOR: Is it true that the FBI led the FISA application with the dossier?

NUNES: Yes, most of the -- the largest percentage of the entire application has to do with the dossier and then using the news story to corroborate the dossier.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

STEPHANOPOULOS: Your response to the Chairman?

SCHIFF: Well, the chairman is wrong. Now, the chairman also hasn’t read the underlying materials. But for example, the argument that the Yahoo! News article was circular reporting because it was based on something Christopher Steele said, that’s not what the article was cited for. And if you read the application, you would know that’s not what the article was sited for. But the whole point here is not to be accurate, the point is to be misleading.

The Democrats didn’t even get to read the memo until minutes before it was voted out to the House. If they were truly interested in getting to the truth, that’s not the process that they would use. Instead, they used a vehicle that has never been used before in the history of the House to release this very one-sided memorandum.

In terms of Andy McCabe, like the memorandum itself, they cherry-pick selectively in what he said. Now, while I can’t go into the specifics of his testimony, I can tell what he said was that you have to look at a FISA application as a cohesive whole. All the parts are important. And the suggestion that the chairman makes there and others on the committee have made also, that the entire dossier was included in this is just plain false.

STEPHANOPOULOS: You’re responsible for oversight as well. Did the FBI make any mistakes here?

SCHIFF: Well, we don’t know because we haven’t had the opportunity to bring the FBI in before the committee and ask them these questions, which, in a normal oversight process, we would have the opportunity to do. But the goal here really isn’t to find out the answers from the FBI. The goal here is to undermine the FBI, discredit the FBI, discredit the Mueller investigation, do the president’s bidding.

From the midnight run the chairman made to the White House to present documents he had actually gotten from the White House to today, it’s all part of the same. And indeed, the Chairman wouldn’t answer the question about whether his staff was working with the White House on this memorandum. So this is actually...

STEPHANOPOULOS: Inside the committee. He answered on FOX and said there was no working with the White House.

SCHIFF: Well, there’s a reason, I think, he wouldn’t answer that question in committee. And -- and the reality is...

STEPHANOPOULOS: So you believe that he -- his staff worked with the White House?

SCHIFF: I think it’s very possible his staff worked with the White House and coordinated the whole effort with the White House. Because it looks so much like this earlier effort, which we know was coordinated with the White House by the same chairman, who had said that he would recuse himself, but -- but of course hasn’t.

STEPHANOPOULOS: Do you think this memo could be part of an obstruction case?

SCHIFF: I don’t know whether members of Congress can be part of an obstruction case in the exercise of their duties, even as ill-intentioned as they are, but the president’s use of this, the president’s decision, for example, I’m going to release the memo even though the FBI says it’s inaccurate, even though the Department of Justice says it’s reckless, and what's more, I have made that decision without even reading it.

That could be evidence of the president’s intent to interfere with the investigation.

STEPHANOPOULOS: Well, the president did say he read the memo.

SCHIFF: Well, at the time, he said apparently to a member during the State of the Union, he hadn’t read the memo, that’s what the White House was saying.

STEPHANOPOULOS: You know, you talked about this strategy to discredit the Mueller investigation, is it working?

SCHIFF: Well, I don’t think it’s working in the sense that people have a lot of confidence in Bob Mueller. But it is impeaching the FBI, and the problem with this, and this is I think at the heart of the department’s concern, is if you have a neighbor who is buying fertilizer, lots of fertilizer, but has no yard and you have concerns about it and you want to call the FBI, you’re now going to wonder, is that FBI going to hold my name in confidence or this information in confidence? What if this becomes politicized? Sources are going to dry up because of what the Republicans on this committee are doing now.

There’s a compact between our committee and the intelligence community. You give us your deepest-held secrets, we will hold them in good confidence, we won’t abuse them. They’re going to share a lot less with us now and other sources of information are going to decide not to share with the FBI because they can’t rely on our committee not to be partisan in the handling of that information, and that’s a deep disservice which ultimately makes the country less safe.

STEPHANOPOULOS: Congressman Schiff, thanks for your time this morning.

SCHIFF: Thanks, George.

STEPHANOPOULOS: And we are joined now by a Republican member of the committee, Congressman Will Hurd of Texas.

Thanks for coming in...

REP. WILL HURD (R-TX), INTELLIGENCE COMMITTE: Always a pleasure.

STEPHANOPOULOS: … this morning. You just heard Congressman Schiff right there say this is going to cause a loss of confidence in the Intelligence Committee, your response?

HURD: I don’t believe so, I think we have to hold the intelligence community, federal law enforcement to high standards. I spent almost a decade as an undercover officer in the CIA, being the guy in the back alleys collecting intelligence. And we know that we are supposed to be held to a higher standard. And when political leaders of an organization, we should be making sure they’re crossing every T and dotting every I.

STEPHANOPOULOS: It’s not just Democrats who’ve criticized this memo, James Comey, former FBI director, came out with this tweet, want to put it up right there. He says: "That’s it? Dishonest and misleading memo wrecked the House Intel Committee, destroyed trust with intelligence community, damaged relationship with FISA court, and inexcusably exposed classified intelligence of an American citizen. For what? DOJ and FBI must keep doing their jobs."

What’s your response to James Comey?

HURD: Well, I would say that DOJ and the FBI should continue doing their job. I don’t believe this is an attack on Bob Mueller. I don’t believe this is an attack on the men and women in the FBI. I’ve served shoulder to shoulder with them and they are hard-working folks that keep us safe.

What this is about is – is a couple of things. Should unverified information be able to be used to spy on an American? Should circular reporting be used to spy on an American...

STEPHANOPOULOS: But you just heard (INAUDIBLE) just say it wasn’t circular reporting if you had read the underlying intelligence.

HURD: So -- so a press release or some newspaper article should be able to be used in order to spy on an American? That news paper article was about -- was all based off the information that they already had access to. And what’s interesting is nobody is questioning whether some of the information was unverified, right.

Nobody has questioned that. Nobody has questioned that there was rumors that were involved in this. And -- and for me, this is about making sure that we’re protecting the civil liberties of Americans.

STEPHANOPOULOS: But as the congressman, who has read all the underlying materials, just said, said that is only one part of a very large file that was presented to the judge.

HURD: Well, when you introduced me today, you didn’t say I was from San Antonio or I spent all my life in Texas, that doesn’t change the fact that I’m a Republican member of Congress, right.

You know, the information that -- that we’re talking about is unverified info, nobody questions that. And the gentleman from California...

STEPHANOPOULOS: Which information is unverified?

HURD: Most of the information in the Steele dossier. What information there is verified? The only...

STEPHANOPOULOS: Because you didn't read the underlying documents.

HURD: You don't have to read the underlying documents, because we've had -- and the gentleman from California said that we haven't interviewed the FBI or DOJ on this. You know, I've spent countless hours in hearings with the DOJ and FBI asking questions about this. So, I've had the opportunity to ask the people that created the underlying document about this, and that's what came to some of the conclusions and why I voted to release the memo.

STEPHANOPOULOS: You voted against releasing the Democratic memo. Why?

HURD: There was information there that I did believe led to the erosion of national security. There was some references to ongoing intelligence operations. I believe they're working through that and it's going to...

STEPHANOPOULOS: Why not wait until that was scrubbed the same way the Republican one was scrubbed so they can both be put out at the same time?

HURD: well, the information wasn't ready to go. And so we decided to release ours. People can criticize that decision, but I think providing oversight and shining a light on these issues is important.

Because ultimately I do believe we're letting the Russians win. The Russians got involved in our elections to erode trust in our democratic institutions. And when the press is criticizing congress for shining light on issues, when Republicans and Democrats can't agree on stuff just because it was originated by someone in the other party, when there's a perceived friction between the executive branch, the legislative branch and federal law enforcement, when people think that there shouldn't be oversight, civilian oversight of law enforcement...

STEPHANOPOULOS: On oversight, if you had real concerns, why not call the FBI director in a closed session as is normally done, ask him those questions?

HURD: We did. We did. There have been dozens of hours of conversations around this. And the reason we found this was because of the broader Russia investigation.

But to me, this does not -- I want to stress, Bob Mueller should be allowed to turnover every rock, pursue every lead, so that we can have trust in knowing what actually the Russians did or did not do.

STEPHANOPOULOS: So you don't agree with President Trump when he says this vindicates him in the entire Russian investigation?

HURD: I don't. I don't agree with some of my colleagues that say, you know, it was always using the words explosive. I'm not shocked that elected officials are using hyperbole and exaggerations. But this is about, for me, what kind of information should be used in a Title III court in order to spy on American citizens. Our civil liberties are important. You know, most people, I was just back in my hometown on San Antonio, I didn't get asked a lot of questions about this, right. Most people are worried about how do they pay their rent bill, how do they make sure they have enough money for their kids to go to college.

But the fact that we have to protect our civil liberties, this is one of the things that has made our country great. And so we should be focused on this and congress should do its oversight role even in a a crazy environment.

STEPHANOPOULOS: I wonder what your complaint is here, though. Carter Page, the man at the center of this right now -- and we just heard from Congressman Schiff that in fact the FBI investigation began with George Padopoulos and the intelligence he gave to the Australian intelligence official, but let's talk about Carter Page here for a second. He had been on the radar of the FBI as possibly working for the Russians back to 2013.

In order to get a FISA warrant, you have to show probable cause that this person is a foreign agent. That has to be approved by a judge. This was approved and then renewed three separate times by judges appointed by Republican presidents.

HURD: Right. Which I think is a problem that information that was unverified was used in that application.

STEPHANOPOULOS: But you believe they would have done that based on flimsy information?

HURD: That's the question at the heard of this.

STEPHANOPOULOS: But you haven't read the underlying documents.

HURD: No, no. But we've talked to the people that have created this, James Comey himself said that the dossier was salacious, I believe was one of the words, and unverified.

STEPHANOPOULOS: He was only talking about that one part dealing with President Trump in Russia at the time, that was only referring to one small part, not the dossier as a whole.

HURD: So, what parts of dossier have been verified?

STEPHANOPOULOS: The underlying documents would show for that. That's why I'm asking you why you haven't read them.

HURD: And we've asked the folks at FBI, we've asked the folks at DOJ and said there's -- none of that stuff -- they've not bee able to prove through other reporting that that information was correct. That's unverified information. And at the time that information was included into this first FISA application they knew that it wasn't verified.

STEPHANOPOULOS: I want to show a quote from your Republican colleague in the House, Paul Gosar of Arizona. He said the fullthroated adoption of this illegal misconduct and abuse of FISA by James Comey, Andrew McCabe, Sally Yates, and Rod Rosenstein is not just criminal, but constitutes treason. I will be leading a letter to the attorney general seeking criminal prosecution against these traitors to our nation.

Will you sign that letter?

HURD: No.

STEPHANOPOULOS: Why not?

HURD: Because I think -- is this problem? Yes. Does it require further review? Yes. You know, I'm waiting to see the DOJ inspector-general has a report coming out about review of some of the activities. We'll look at that. I think that goes a little far.

STEPHANOPOULOS: Congressman Hurd, thanks for your time this morning.

HURD: Thank you.

STEPHANOPOULOS: Let's get some analysis now from our to chief global affairs anchor Martha Raddatz, our chief legal analyst Dan Abrams, and Matt Olson a former top official in the Justice Department, director of the National Counterterrorism Center.

Matt, I want to begin with you. You're kind of the man of the moment right now, because for three years under President Bush you oversaw the FISA application process. So, your reaction to the memo?

MATT OLSEN, NATIONAL COUNTERTERRORISM CENTER: You know, my reaction, just on the four corners of the memo, is it's politically motivated, it's sort of amateurish, it's very short and it leads to more questions than it answers.

You know, the central claim in the memo that biased information wasn't presented to the court. We now know that's not true, and that's actually consistent with my own experience overseeing the lawyers in the Justice Department.

STEPHANOPOULOS: So, walk us through the process right here, what it would take to get a warrant from a judge like this. You heard Congressman Hurd kept talking about, well the information was unverified, so that's why it shouldn't have been approved.

Walk us through what it would take to get a judge to approve this kind of a warrant?

OLSEN: That's a really important point. You know, these applications take weeks, sometimes months to prepare. There are agents in the FBI, overseen by lawyers in the FBI, lawyers at the Justice Department. They're usually 50 pages or more. They are about this thick. They are -- every fact that's in an application is vetted and scrutinized by lawyers. So, they sit down with the agents and they walk through every fact.

STEPHANOPOULOS: So it starts with agents, then it starts to move up.

OLSEN: Multiple levels of lawyers and approved at the highest levels of Department of Justice. And that's before it ever gets to the FISA court. And these judges are independent article three judges who have staff of their own. They ask questions.

The chances that there was a conspiracy of all these people to provide misleading information to the FISA court is a zero.

STEPHANOPOULOS: And that's the initial application right there. It was then renewed three separate times. What is the standard for renewal?

OLSEN: Well, the standard for renewal is again probable cause that the target is an agent of a foreign power. But the standard also is that each time you're asking the court to renew it, there has to be some additional information that shows that the investigation is advancing, in other words, the surveillance is advancing the investigation. That's one of the real takeaways here.

STEPHANOPOULOS: And Dan, you're saying that there's an analogy here to something that happens in courts across the country every single day.

DAN ABRAMS, ABC LEGAL ANSLYST: This memo reads like a defense attorney's brief to try to exclude evidence, because in just about every high profile case I cover, the defense argues that the investigators and the prosecutors had tunnel vision. They were out to get the defendant from the beginning. They never looked at any other possible defendants, they included all sorts of unverified information in warrant applications. This is a relatively weak legal argument coming from the Nunes memo, because in the end what they're talking about is motivations, they're not talking about facts they got wrong or laws that were broken.

STEPHANOPOULOS: And (inaudible) got biases all the time

ABRAMS: That's right. And so really this is nothing new. And the idea that, you know, I can compare this to the O.J. Simpson case, right, where you say, oh, they said that they had it out for him from the beginning. Well, that sort of what this sounds like. This just sounds like they're saying they wanted to get him. And that's what defense attorneys argue every day in this country.

STEPHANOPOULOS: Martha, what a break down we have here, not only between the president and law enforcement, between the president and the intelligence community now, between the House intelligence committee and the professionals they deal with every single day.

MARTHA RADDATZ, ABC NEWS: Exactly. You know, the intelligence professionals who I have talked to this week when they look at this memo say they're not so concerned about sources and methods -- and I know the Democrats talked a lot about national security and the threat to that -- not so much in that, but they will tell you -- and these are career professionals, that it is incomplete and there is bias in there, but what concerns them most is the attacks on the FBI, the attacks on the intelligence community.

Because the president can say, oh, it's not the rank and file, it's just the leadership. But I don't think that's the way the public sees it. And that permeates in the same way that they call fake news. They don't say, oh, he's not fake, she's not fake. Every...

STEPHANOPOULOS: So, they feel it up and down the ranks.

RADDATZ: Up and down, up and down the ranks.

STEPHANOPOULOS: And that brings up something that John McCain -- John McCain also responded to this. I want to show that to everybody right now. He said the latest attacks on the FBI and the Department of Justice serve no American interest, no parties, no presidents, only Putin's. Our nation's elected officials, including the president, must stop looking at this investigation through the warped lens of politics and manufacturing bipartisan sideshows. If we continue to undermine our own rule of law, we are doing Putin's job for him.

When you think about the investment that Vladimir Putin made in interfering in our elections, it is paying off every day in spades.

RADDATZ: He won the Super Bowl, he really -- Putin has won the Super Bowl here, exactly what he wanted to happen in this country -- this discord, this mistrust of institutions, is exactly why they operate this way.

ABRAMS: Because this memo is just about Carter Page who is not even relevant, really, in the big picture of the investigation here. He wasn't even a member of the Trump campaign at the time the application was made. And that's what this memo is all about? For someone to link that to the Mueller investigation is such a leap, because Carter Page isn't a central part of the Mueller investigation.

STEPHANOPOULOS: Isn't a central part of the investigation, but as you point out, Matt, you don't believe a judge would have approved this if there weren't huge suspicions.

OLSEN: There had to be huge suspicions. I mean, the real takeaway here is that you have a person whose a suspected agent of Russia who had worked on the Trump campaign. I mean, that's the takeaway from the memo.

STEPHANOPOULOS: Thank you all very much.

We'll be back with the round table. Plus, we kick off our closer look at these crucial midterm elections, starting with the special election coming up in Pennsylvania's 18th congressional district. It's called 18 for '18. And we'll be right back.

From: Bob Hoenstine Sent: Sunday, February 4, 2018 10:16 AM To: Scanlan, Quinn X.; Dennis Dunbar Cc: Christopher Windley; Elizabeth Pennell; Bob Hoenstine; list-newsteam@ascllc.net; list-newsteam@fdch.com; Doiron, Justine; Fisher, Caragh E. Subject: ABC 0915 / 20 / 25

HURD: ...nobody questions that. And the gentleman from California...

STEPHANOPOULOS: Which information is unverified?

HURD: Most of the information in the Steele dossier. What information there is verified? The only...

STEPHANOPOULOS: Because you didn't read the underlying documents.

HURD: You don't have to read the underlying documents, because we've had -- and the gentleman from California said that we haven't interviewed the FBI or DOJ on this. You know, I've spent countless hours in hearings with the DOJ and FBI asking questions about this. So, I've had the opportunity to ask the people that created the underlying document about this, and that's what came to some of the conclusions and why I voted to release the memo.

STEPHANOPOULOS: You voted against releasing the Democratic memo. Why?

HURD: There was information there that I did believe led to the erosion of national security. There was some references to ongoing intelligence operations. I believe they're working through that and it's going to...

STEPHANOPOULOS: Why not wait until that was scrubbed the same way the Republican one was scrubbed so they can both be put out at the same time?

HURD: well, the information wasn't ready to go. And so we decided to release ours. People can criticize that decision, but I think providing oversight and shining a light on these issues is important.

Because ultimately I do believe we're letting the Russians win. The Russians got involved in our elections to erode trust in our democratic institutions. And when the press is criticizing congress for shining light on issues, when Republicans and Democrats can't agree on stuff just because it was originated by someone in the other party, when there's a perceived friction between the executive branch, the legislative branch and federal law enforcement, when people think that there shouldn't be oversight, civilian oversight of law enforcement...

STEPHANOPOULOS: On oversight, if you had real concerns, why not call the FBI director in a closed session as is normally done, ask him those questions?

HURD: We did. We did. There have been dozens of hours of conversations around this. And the reason we found this was because of the broader Russia investigation.

But to me, this does not -- I want to stress, Bob Mueller should be allowed to turnover every rock, pursue every lead, so that we can have trust in knowing what actually the Russians did or did not do.

STEPHANOPOULOS: So you don't agree with President Trump when he says this vindicates him in the entire Russian investigation?

HURD: I don't. I don't agree with some of my colleagues that say, you know, it was always using the words explosive. I'm not shocked that elected officials are using hyperbole and exaggerations. But this is about, for me, what kind of information should be used in a Title III court in order to spy on American citizens. Our civil liberties are important. You know, most people, I was just back in my hometown on San Antonio, I didn't get asked a lot of questions about this, right. Most people are worried about how do they pay their rent bill, how do they make sure they have enough money for their kids to go to college.

But the fact that we have to protect our civil liberties, this is one of the things that has made our country great. And so we should be focused on this and congress should do its oversight role even in a a crazy environment.

STEPHANOPOULOS: I wonder what your complaint is here, though. Carter Page, the man at the center of this right now -- and we just heard from Congressman Schiff that in fact the FBI investigation began with George Padopoulos and the intelligence he gave to the Australian intelligence official, but let's talk about Carter Page here for a second. He had been on the radar of the FBI as possibly working for the Russians back to 2013.

In order to get a FISA warrant, you have to show probable cause that this person is a foreign agent. That has to be approved by a judge. This was approved and then renewed three separate times by judges appointed by Republican presidents.

HURD: Right. Which I think is a problem that information that was unverified was used in that application.

STEPHANOPOULOS: But you believe they would have done that based on flimsy information?

HURD: That's the question at the heard of this.

STEPHANOPOULOS: But you haven't read the underlying documents.

HURD: No, no. But we've talked to the people that have created this, James Comey himself said that the dossier was salacious, I believe was one of the words, and unverified.

STEPHANOPOULOS: He was only talking about that one part dealing with President Trump in Russia at the time, that was only referring to one small part, not the dossier as a whole.

HURD: So, what parts of dossier have been verified?

STEPHANOPOULOS: The underlying documents would show for that. That's why I'm asking you why you haven't read them.

HURD: And we've asked the folks at FBI, we've asked the folks at DOJ and said there's -- none of that stuff -- they've not bee able to prove through other reporting that that information was correct. That's unverified information. And at the time that information was included into this first FISA application they knew that it wasn't verified.

STEPHANOPOULOS: I want to show a quote from your Republican colleague in the House, Paul Gosar of Arizona. He said the fullthroated adoption of this illegal misconduct and abuse of FISA by James Comey, Andrew McCabe, Sally Yates, and Rod Rosenstein is not just criminal, but constitutes treason. I will be leading a letter to the attorney general seeking criminal prosecution against these traitors to our nation.

Will you sign that letter?

HURD: No.

STEPHANOPOULOS: Why not?

HURD: Because I think -- is this problem? Yes. Does it require further review? Yes. You know, I'm waiting to see the DOJ inspector-general has a report coming out about review of some of the activities. We'll look at that. I think that goes a little far.

STEPHANOPOULOS: Congressman Hurd, thanks for your time this morning.

HURD: Thank you.

STEPHANOPOULOS: Let's get some analysis now from our to chief global affairs anchor Martha Raddatz, our chief legal analyst Dan Abrams, and Matt Olson a former top official in the Justice Department, director of the National Counterterrorism Center.

Matt, I want to begin with you. You're kind of the man of the moment right now, because for three years under President Bush you oversaw the FISA application process. So, your reaction to the memo?

MATT OLSEN, NATIONAL COUNTERTERRORISM CENTER: You know, my reaction, just on the four corners of the memo, is it's politically motivated, it's sort of amateurish, it's very short and it leads to more questions than it answers.

You know, the central claim in the memo that biased information wasn't presented to the court. We now know that's not true, and that's actually consistent with my own experience overseeing the lawyers in the Justice Department.

STEPHANOPOULOS: So, walk us through the process right here, what it would take to get a warrant from a judge like this. You heard Congressman Hurd kept talking about, well the information was unverified, so that's why it shouldn't have been approved.

Walk us through what it would take to get a judge to approve this kind of a warrant?

OLSEN: That's a really important point. You know, these applications take weeks, sometimes months to prepare. There are agents in the FBI, overseen by lawyers in the FBI, lawyers at the Justice Department. They're usually 50 pages or more. They are about this thick. They are -- every fact that's in an application is vetted and scrutinized by lawyers. So, they sit down with the agents and they walk through every fact.

STEPHANOPOULOS: So it starts with agents, then it starts to move up.

OLSEN: Multiple levels of lawyers and approved at the highest levels of Department of Justice. And that's before it ever gets to the FISA court. And these judges are independent article three judges who have staff of their own. They ask questions.

The chances that there was a conspiracy of all these people to provide misleading information to the FISA court is a zero.

STEPHANOPOULOS: And that's the initial application right there. It was then renewed three separate times. What is the standard for renewal?

OLSEN: Well, the standard for renewal is again probable cause that the target is an agent of a foreign power. But the standard also is that each time you're asking the court to renew it, there has to be some additional information that shows that the investigation is advancing, in other words, the surveillance is advancing the investigation. That's one of the real takeaways here.

STEPHANOPOULOS: And Dan, you're saying that there's an analogy here to something that happens in courts across the country every single day.

DAN ABRAMS, ABC LEGAL ANSLYST: This memo reads like a defense attorney's brief to try to exclude evidence, because in just about every high profile case I cover, the defense argues that the investigators and the prosecutors had tunnel vision. They were out to get the defendant from the beginning. They never looked at any other possible defendants, they included all sorts of unverified information in warrant applications. This is a relatively weak legal argument coming from the Nunes memo, because in the end what they're talking about is motivations, they're not talking about facts they got wrong or laws that were broken.

STEPHANOPOULOS: And (inaudible) got biases all the time

ABRAMS: That's right. And so really this is nothing new. And the idea that, you know, I can compare this to the O.J. Simpson case, right, where you say, oh, they said that they had it out for him from the beginning. Well, that sort of what this sounds like. This just sounds like they're saying they wanted to get him. And that's what defense attorneys argue every day in this country.

STEPHANOPOULOS: Martha, what a break down we have here, not only between the president and law enforcement, between the president and the intelligence community now, between the House intelligence committee and the professionals they deal with every single day.

MARTHA RADDATZ, ABC NEWS: Exactly. You know, the intelligence professionals who I have talked to this week when they look at this memo say they're not so concerned about sources and methods -- and I know the Democrats talked a lot about national security and the threat to that -- not so much in that, but they will tell you -- and these are career professionals, that it is incomplete and there is bias in there, but what concerns them most is the attacks on the FBI, the attacks on the intelligence community.

Because the president can say, oh, it's not the rank and file, it's just the leadership. But I don't think that's the way the public sees it. And that permeates in the same way that they call fake news. They don't say, oh, he's not fake, she's not fake. Every...

STEPHANOPOULOS: So, they feel it up and down the ranks.

RADDATZ: Up and down, up and down the ranks.

STEPHANOPOULOS: And that brings up something that John McCain -- John McCain also responded to this. I want to show that to everybody right now. He said the latest attacks on the FBI and the Department of Justice serve no American interest, no parties, no presidents, only Putin's. Our nation's elected officials, including the president, must stop looking at this investigation through the warped lens of politics and manufacturing bipartisan sideshows. If we continue to undermine our own rule of law, we are doing Putin's job for him.

When you think about the investment that Vladimir Putin made in interfering in our elections, it is paying off every day in spades.

RADDATZ: He won the Super Bowl, he really -- Putin has won the Super Bowl here, exactly what he wanted to happen in this country -- this discord, this mistrust of institutions, is exactly why they operate this way.

ABRAMS: Because this memo is just about Carter Page who is not even relevant, really, in the big picture of the investigation here. He wasn't even a member of the Trump campaign at the time the application was made. And that's what this memo is all about? For someone to link that to the Mueller investigation is such a leap, because Carter Page isn't a central part of the Mueller investigation.

STEPHANOPOULOS: Isn't a central part of the investigation, but as you point out, Matt, you don't believe a judge would have approved this if there weren't huge suspicions.

OLSEN: There had to be huge suspicions. I mean, the real takeaway here is that you have a person whose a suspected agent of Russia who had worked on the Trump campaign. I mean, that's the takeaway from the memo.

STEPHANOPOULOS: Thank you all very much.

We'll be back with the round table. Plus, we kick off our closer look at these crucial midterm elections, starting with the special election coming up in Pennsylvania's 18th congressional district. It's called 18 for '18. And we'll be right back.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

MIKE PENCE, VICE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: conventional wisdom holds that the upcoming midterms are going to be a challenge. All right? (ph) But I think you all know what President Trump thinks about conventional wisdom. I mean the truth of the matter is we made history in 2016 and we’re going to make history again in 2018 when we reelect Republican majorities in the House and Senate.

GEORGE STEPHANOPOULOS, CHIEF ANCHOR, ABC NEWS: And optimist Mike Pence there saying the Republicans will buck history with a big win in the midterms. And this week we’re kicking off our comprehensive midterm coverage. We call it Eighteen for ’18, a closer look at the 18 most compelling races to watch from now until November.

Dan Harris is here and Dan, you traveled to Pennsylvania this week. A special House election drawing national attention.

DAN HARRIS, CORRESPONDENT, ABC NEWS: Good morning. Fascinating race. This district, Pennsylvania 18 is tucked into the Southwest corner of the state, right outside of Pittsburgh. This is the site of America’s next big political showdown. A special election in March that will inevitably be viewed as a referendum on President Trump.

(BEGIN VIDEO TAPE)

RICK SACCONE, REPUBLICAN CANDIDATE, U.S. HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES: …welcome our vice president, Mike Pence.

HARRIS: Here comes the vice president. They’re bringing out the big gun here in Southwestern Pennsylvania today for Republican candidate Rick Saccone. (ph)

There’s a reason Vice President Pence turned up in Pennsylvania’s 18th congressional district two days ago and why President Trump himself was here two weeks before that.

DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: A real friend and a spectacular man, Rick Saccone.

HARRIS: So we traveled to the 18th district to get a feel for this contest.

This is a race with serious national implications. Everybody wants to know are we looking at another Alabama here where the Republicans could be dealt a swift and severe setback as a consequence of Donald Trump’s unpopularity.

The candidates at the center of this March special election here, two military veterans, 59 year old Republican Rick Saccone and 33 year old Democrat Conor Lamb. Both fighting for the House seat left vacant by Republican Tim Murphy, who resigned last fall after a sex scandal.

We spend time this week with Saccone at (ph) state house representatives, who’s facing an unexpected fight in this district, a mix of suburbs and rural stretches where Trump beat Hillary Clinton by double digits. Saccone says he wants to go to Washington to be Trump’s wingman. (ph)

You said I was Trump before Trump? What do you mean by that?

SACCONE: Half jokingly, it’s a good phrase. But what it means is the issues that President Trump has nationalized, the agenda that the people voted in, cutting taxes, cutting government spending, reducing government regulations that are strangling our businesses, repealing and replacing Obamacare. Most of those issues I ran on in 2010 in the state house.

HARRIS: While Trump is unpopular nationally, he has motivated many in Saccone’s base.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We need to support the president and elect Saccone.

HARRIS: But he’s also motivated his opponent’s supporters, some now getting involved in politics for the first time. Here in this affluent suburb, we attended a meeting where foot soldiers for the Democratic candidate plotted strategy and then hit the streets.

It’s striking to me to look around at your group today and to see that the vast majority, female. (ph) Do you think that’s a coincidence?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: No, it’s not a coincidence at all. Women in particular, I think, are key to any election, but I think especially to this election.

HARRIS: And as Saccone embraces Trump, national Republicans are pouring in big money to paint his opponent, Conor Lamb, as a Nancy Pelosi puppet.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: …his name is Conor Lamb. But in Washington, he’d be one of Nancy Pelosi’s sheep.

HARRIS: But Lamb, who has said that he won’t back Pelosi as speaker if the Democrats retake the House, is keeping a lower profile than Saccone, shunning the national media, including our interview request. But he did make his case to our Pittsburgh affiliate this weekend.

CONOR LAMB, DEMOCRATIC CANDIDATE, U.S. HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES: My strategy is to go straight to the voters and introduce myself and talk to them about the issues that we face here in Western Pennsylvania, not about anyone’s national agenda and that seems to be working so far.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

STEPHANOPOULOS: So Lamb seems to be fine with this (ph) Doug Jones strategy in Alabama. James Carville famously called Pennsylvania Philadelphia and Pittsburgh with Alabama in between. And this district you’re looking at, a deep red district for a long time.

HARRIS: Yes, there’s a lot of Alabama in this district. We haven’t seen any reliable polling yet, but what I can tell you is that the folks who I spoke with who are pro-Trump are still very much pro-Trump. I met one older gentlemen who says every time he sees the media attacking Trump, he feels like it’s an attack on him, personally.

And so while we don’t have any reliable polls, we know, though, this is a closer race than Republicans would like it to be. So as always, it’s going to come down to who can get their people out to the polls.

STEPHANOPOULOS: And a Democratic win here would be explosive.

HARRIS: Indeed. (ph)

STEPHANOPOULOS: Dan Harris, thanks very much. You can see much more of Dan’s report tomorrow night on NIGHTLINE and you can find our comprehensive Eighteen for ’18 midterm elections coverage at ABCNEWS.com or by downloading the ABC NEWS app and signing up for midterm election alerts. Round Table’s up next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

TRUMP: My duty and the sacred duty of every elected official in this chamber is to defend Americans, to protect their safety, their families, their communities, and their right to the American dream because Americans are dreamers too.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

STEPHANOPOULOS: Remember that? President Trump at the State of the Union Address this week. Only Tuesday, feels like a lifetime ago. Going to talk about the whole week now on our “Roundtable” with Bill Kristol, the editor-at-large for the Weekly Standard; host at TV One, Roland Martin; our senior congressional correspondent Mary Bruce; former Obama White House communications director Jen Psaki; and Anthony Scaramucci, former communications director for the Trump White House. We have three people on this panel who served as communications directors.

ANTHONY SCARAMUCCI, FORMER TRUMP WHITE HOUSE COMMUNICATIONS DIRECTOR: You guys served for more “Mooches” than me.

JEN PSAKI, FORMER OBAMA WHITE HOUSE COMMUNICATIONS DIRECTOR: True.

SCARAMUCCI: I only served for one “Mooch.” But that's fine.

STEPHANOPOULOS: (INAUDIBLE)

(LAUGHTER)

STEPHANOPOULOS: I want to start on Capitol Hill, Mary, because, you know, made that joke about the State of the Union right there, the half-life incredibly short. Friday everyone consumed by this memo.

MARY BRUCE, ABC SENIOR CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: This was a partisan grenade that went off on Capitol Hill. And it really exposed the deep divisions between the two parties and even within the Republican Party. The president again has put Republicans in a really tough spot. Speaker Ryan, you see, is trying to walk this fine line. On one hand, he supported the release of this memo in the name of transparency. He says legitimate concerns about oversight. But he said that this memo should not be used to undermine the Russian investigation, which puts him and several other Republicans squarely at odds with the president. And a vocal group of Republicans on the Hill who now seem to be doing just that.

STEPHANOPOULOS: Yes, the president is keeping up this drumbeat though.

SCARAMUCCI: I think he's upset. I mean, listen, we can agree on certain things and obviously disagree on other things. But I think if you're in his position, he's looking at it and saying that the germination of what happened as it related to the surveillance was related opposition research. And so we can all discuss and debate on whether or not the memo should be out there or not.

I said recently there should be a bipartisan commission put together to protect that from happening in the future, but also to protect the agencies. And so people don't call the agencies into question, because one thing that Bill and I agree with is that those agencies are sacred and we need to protect them.

STEPHANOPOULOS: But you even had the White House chief of staff, reportedly, John Kelly, looking at the memo, saying, it's not quite what it was sold to be. Is there anybody inside the White House right now saying, Mr. President, even if you believe that, it's not a good idea to have this kind of public campaign against the FBI, or are they behind it?

SCARAMUCCI: Oh no, listen, I think so. Look, you know, despite what people think, I think people go at the president pretty hard. He likes having tough intellectual people around him. And so I think they're telling him that. But he has a certain style of his personality. And the style here is, is that there was opposition research that was a Duraflame log that created this surveillance. And he doesn't like that.

And so he's calling people out on that. We can all disagree about that. That's fine. But I think we'll all be better served and the whole thing would calm down from a bipartisan perspective if we unified and said, OK, we're going to have a committee, comes together...

STEPHANOPOULOS: Well, that was idea behind the House Intelligence Committee in the first place.

But, Bill, I mean, Mary point out that some Republicans are not backing the president on the vindication. I've actually been struck by how many Republicans have actually fallen in line behind the president on this.

BILL KRISTOL, EDITOR-AT-LARGE, WEEKLY STANDARD: Yes, and over the last six to eight months. I mean, it's really remarkable. And if you had told me six to eight months ago you would have the House Republicans, pretty much the entire party there, attacking the FBI, signing on to this partisan memo, defending Trump sort of no matter what he says or does, that's a pretty astonishing victory for Donald Trump.

I mean, I dislike it as a Republican. I dislike it very much. But politically he has not been stupid. I think people do miss the forest for the trees. You know, they say he's short-tempered, he's erratic, he's impulsive. I don't buy that. He hates this investigation. He has wanted to limit it, delegitimize it, discredit it, make it a partisan thing, rally his supporters as much as possible to his side for what he may have to do down the road.

And he has succeeded to a much greater degree than I would have thought.

STEPHANOPOULOS: I want to bring that to Jen Psaki and then Roland as well, because it does seem like the president is conditioning the environment much in the same way that President Clinton conditioned the environment back in 1998 when he just denied any relationship with Monica Lewinsky. By the time the truth came out, his team was unified. Same thing seems to be happening here.

PSAKI: That's exactly right. And less interesting about this memo is what, what is in it. It's pretty much a nothing-burger. What's most interesting I think is the how and the why. So why did he do this exactly? As you said, he did it because he's continuing to lay the groundwork, make an argument for his 30 percent -- 35 percent of supporters out there who want to -- he wants to be able to be able to argue on his behalf if Mueller goes after him, if there are more people indicted, when, if there is an obstruction of justice case made against him.

The other interesting piece here is what Republicans have done, because the how is fascinating here. It's not -- you know, this is a moment where they could have stood up and said, no, we can't put this memo out, we should go through a process. They didn't do that. And the how is chilling because they're sitting there and they're saying, sure, let's have misleading information out to the public. And that's a dangerous precedent too.

STEPHANOPOULOS: We;re used to Republicans defending the FBI, defending law enforcement.

ROLAND MARTIN, HOST, TV ONE: Yes, we're used to that. But, again, there was a guy who once said that this president, he is the president of the Queens County Bully Association. And they're afraid to be attacked on FOX News.

Anthony, we appreciate your honest words in 2015 about Donald Trump.

(CROSSTALK)

MARTIN: But it's true. They are afraid to be attacked. Here's what is grossly offensive about Donald Trump. Monday he refuses to out forth the sanctions against Russia for interfering in our election. Four hundred nineteen House members voted for it. Ninety-two United States senators. Republican leadership says nothing. The head of the CIA says this week Russia is trying to impact the 2018 election. This president says nothing.

Now if you want to talk about anti-American, you want to talk about not protecting these borders, doing nothing about Russia, that's what he is doing. And that, to me, is offensive.

SCARAMUCCI: See, this is the thing that people really don't understand about the president. He's probably doing an enormous amount, in fact, I know that he's doing an enormous amount. But one thing he doesn't like doing, particularly in a military situation or a cyber warfare situation, is declaring what he's doing.

The last president made the mistake of telling the Taliban when he was leaving Afghanistan, which caused the Talibanis (sic) and all the other terrorist groups to move in. And so I appreciate what you're saying. And thank you for sharing those words that I had from two years ago. But here's...

(CROSSTALK)

MARTIN: They were truthful then and now.

SCARAMUCCI: This is what you're missing about the president. And no, actually, you know what, he was coming at me, and I came at him in the same way I'm going to come at you.

MARTIN: Try it.

SCARAMUCCI: Let me speak, and then you can rebut me. Let me speak.

(LAUGHTER)

MARTIN: Try it.

SCARAMUCCI: Here's the thing that you're missing about the president. OK, he loves the FBI. He loves the CIA. He loves law enforcement. I traveled on 26 campaign stops with him. Every time he came off the plane, they rushed him for selfies. OK, at the end of the day, the border control (sic) endorsed him. He is pro-law enforcement like every typical Republican.

STEPHANOPOULOS: Hold on a second, but...

SCARAMUCCI: He's just upset about the politics...

(CROSSTALK)

PSAKI: I think there's a huge, huge, huge...

(CROSSTALK)

MARTIN: Let me come at you. Four hundred nineteen to three. Ninety-eight to two. Also, he attacked the intelligence community before he became president. Seventeen agencies said Russia interfered with this election. He refused to believe it. He is trying to present an alternate reality. That's what he does.

SCARAMUCCI: He's saying it's not collusion.

MARTIN: No, no, that's what he does. Seventeen intelligence agencies. The head of the CIA, Mike Pompeo...

SCARAMUCII: He's just saying it's not collusion.

MARTIN: Anthony, who he appointed, said this week they will interfere in 2018.

SCARAMUCCI: There was no collusion.

MARTIN: In 2018.

STEPHANOPOULOS: Just want to get something on the record. The president has sent at least two tweets in the last two days, one is saying that the FBI politicized this process for the Democrats, the other, quoting The Wall Street Journal, calling them political tools. So, I mean, you may know what's in his heart. We don't. But we only -- we can read what he's tweeting.

I want to bring this back to Mary Bruce, though, because, Mary, can you talk about Capitol Hill right now. When the first possible threats to Robert Mueller came out last, you saw Republicans and Democrats alike saying that is the absolute red line. If the president does that, all bets are off, there's going to be an explosion, there might even be moves towards impeachment. Does that still hold?

BRUCE: Well, it's a question now that's being posed to every single Republican. And it's a big concern, of course, because you did see many Republicans, especially on the Senate side, come out and say, absolutely Mueller is off the table. Now you do have this incredibly vocal group of Republicans, particularly in the House, who are raising these concerns, questioning this investigation.

And the other point is that there's a huge concern from members on both sides of the aisle that I've talked to about setting a precedent here, that the fundamental oversight rule done by congress is now being tarnished by bipartisanship, and that this precedent has been set and that no matter what is in the Republican memo, what's in the Democratic memo that we may see, what the facts are, that when this investigation is concluded, when Mueller presents his findings, it may just simply be viewed as a partisan document.

STEPHANOPOULOS: What do you think Republicans do if the president moves against Rosenstein or Mueller?

KRISTOL: I'm not sure. I would have said six months ago, as you suggested, that they would balk.

But, look I think he's not -- he's going to refuse to testify with Mueller.

STEPHANOPOULOS: You sure of that?

KRISTOL: I believe that. He'll offer written responses. Mueller will say no. Presumably he'll just refuse to testify, maybe if he's forced to, if he's compelled to with a grand jury subpoena, he'll take the 5th. I would have said six months ago, the president of the United States taking the 5th before a grand jury, is that conceivable?

He'll be totally defended by Republicans on the Hill.

The 5th Amendment, it's a great part of our constitution. The Founders put it there for a reason, many people have taken the 5th. It's a witch hunt. You're right to focus on...

(CROSSTALK)

KRISTOL: These two tweets he sent since the memo came out are very striking, the FBI and the DOJ are fundamentally politicized. It's a fundamentally illegitimate investigation, that is what he is saying. If it's a fundamentally illegitimate investigation led by fundamentally politicized heads of DOJ and FBI, what's the objection to firing Rosenstein? He's the guy who is in charge of it.

PSAKI: Well, you fundamentally cannot -- this -- the shift this week is that Republicans in congress aligned behind Donald Trump on criticizing the FBI and criticizing DOJ and saying that is OK.

And you can't -- you've seen them twist themselves into pretzels. You saw your guest earlier try to do that as well, where he's trying to say, this isn't about the FBI, this isn't about the DOJ, this has nothing to do with that. Of course it does. You can't have it both ways. They're not going to be able to continue to have it both ways.

SCARAMUCCI: Just remember that common people elected the guy. They don't see the pretzel twisting that perhaps we do at the table, what they see is that there seems like and smells like there was some level of politicization, so let's get a bipartisan committee to check the politicalization...

(CROSSTALK)

MARTIN: A bipartisan committee is a committee of Democrats and Republicans. You already have one...

KRISTOL: It's called the House intelligence committee.

MARTIN: And it's called congress.

(CROSSTALK)

SCARAMUCCI: I think we've proven that the congress is a little bit too political. But the two predictions are he's not going to fire Mueller. He's not going to fire Rosenstein.

STEPHANOPOULOS: Will he testify?

SCARAMUCCI: I hope he doesn't testify, because at the end of the day?

MARTIN: You don't want him to testify?

SCARAMUCCI: To Robert Mueller?

MARTIN: To answering question, the president of the United States?

STEPHANOPOULOS: OK. Let him answer why not.

SCARAMUCCI: OK, well, I actually don't want him to testify, because as a lawyer I don't want him caught in a gotcha moment where somebody accuses him of lying where he may not remember something or something like that.

I don't know what his legal team is going to say to him, I'm just giving you my personal opinion. I would say, sir, there's no reason to testify. Let the thing unfold the way it is. I was there for 18 months. I know there was no collusion. He knows there was no collusion. Don Jr. knows there's collusion.

MARTIN: So testify. Testify. If there's no collusion...

SCARAMUCCI: Because I understand how it works, Roland, and so do you. You don't want him to trip over something that causes something -- look what happened to the Clintons. They started with Whitewater and they moved into Monica Lewinsky 20 years ago.

KRISTOL: It's not going to matter.

SCARAMUCCI: It's a bunch of nonsense, it's the politics of personal destruction. It needs to end on both sides.

KRISTOL: No, this is -- it's not the politics of personal destruction, it's a serious investigation into Russia's interference in our campaign and whether there was collusion. There will be a report that will also deal with the obstruction issues. And we will know.

And Mueller knows we'll find out everything.

STEPHANOPOULOS: And it's actually a question of whether there will be a report, because when Mueller finishes his work he actually gives it to Rod Rosenstein. Rosenstein can choose not to make it...

: I think that would be crazy.

STEPHANOPOULOS; But he can choose not to make it public.

KRISTOL: That's why Rosenstein is such an important figure here, and why I'm very struck to the degree to which the president is willing to personally attack him and continue to do so, because that does lays the groundwork, maybe not until the report comes forth and Rosenstein maybe does do something and then he says this is unacceptable.

SCARAMUCCI: Rod Rosenstein was in my section in law school. And he's a great guy. And I would tell the president if I was in his presence, do not fire him. He'll be fair and impartial. You may be upset about the politicization of what happenes, but I don't think it came from him, and give him a chance to sort this thing out with the rest of the Department of Justice.

ROLAND: Didn't they say the same thing about Comey? And what happened?

SCARAMUCCI: Well, it's different.

MARTIN: The exact same words were used.

SCARAMUCCI: But hold on a second, I think it's different. I think he had a feeling about Comey, and this is what he's done in the Trump organization, this is what he's going to do as your president and my president, he's going to make choices...

MARTIN: More yours than mine.

SCARAMUCCI: We're both Americans, Roland.

MARTIN: But fired Comey. Comey -- don't bully me brother.

(CROSSTALK)

MARTIN: Don't try me. The exact same words were used against Comey. He ended up firing him. That matters nothing when it comes to...

SCARAMUCCI: I don't know James Comey, but I know Rod Rosenstein. He's a good guy. I hope the president doesn't fire him.

KRISTOL: I mean, he can pardon people. I just think people have underestimated consistently his determination -- he thinks this thing is bad for him. I think the reason he thinks it's bad for him, because where there's smoke there's fire. And he is going to resist it, limit it, combat it, drag it out as much as possible with pardons, with firing,s with refusals to testify, with an attempt to make sure his supporters on the Hill stick with him. If it comes to a Clinton situation, which it could, where there is an impeachment, but perhaps not a conviction, I think people have underestimated -- he's not just sort of randomly reacting to things, he has a strategy here.

MARTIN: Sustained.

STEPHANOPOULOS: Before we go, a couple of other things...

KRISTOL: My god, this is strange...

STEPHANOPOULOS: Bring this to you, we aw that remark...

SCARAMUCCI: It's bed fellows here, George.

STEPHANOPOULOS: That's for sure.

During the State of the Union, Republicans cheering, Democrats on their hands, but basically the entire speech, was that a mistake for Democrats?

PSAKI: No. I think Democrats look at it -- and there were some who didn't attend. What didn't happen was nobody was shouting at the president, nobody was screaming you lie at the president. Democrats feel, as many people in the country do, a real dissatisfaction and anger and unhappiness, and they didn't feel like they could stand up and justify this divisive rhetoric about immigration, this language about trying to say I'm for African-Americans, or I'm not racist when we know the reality.

And so they were thinking of their constituents. I don't think they've had a repercussion about it. And I don't think they will.

STEPHANOPOULOS: Three days from now, or maybe four days from now, another possible government shutdown?

BRUCE: Yeah, three or four days away and still nowhere closer to a deal to protect Dreamers. Now, sources I've talked to say they think they're nearing a deal, a budget deal. So, there is some optimism on that stuff, just to keep the government open

So, it's likely you're looking at yet another short-term stop gap measure, buy them a couple of more weeks, to try and work out immigration. But so far more time doesn't exactly seem to be helping here. I mean, both parties agree something has to be done to protect Dreamers, no one wants some kind of question about deportation on their hands as they head into the midterms.

But what do they do? And it just doesn't seem that they're nearing any kind of agreement. The president has put out his proposal, but $25 billion for a wall, that's a no fly with Democrats, and even Republicans have serious concerns about the cuts he's proposing.

STEPHANOPOULOS: And there's another big deadline on that coming up March 5th, which is when deportation can come. Great discussion. Thank you all very much. We'll be right back.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

STEPHANOPOULOS: And now we honor our fellow Americans who serve and sacrifice.

In the month of January, two service members died overseas supporting operations in Afghanistan and Iraq.

That is all for us today. Thanks for sharing part of your Sunday with us. Check out World News Tonight. I'll see you tomorrow on GMA.

END

Comments