The Democratic chairman of the House Intelligence Committee said Sunday that public pressure to disclose the affidavit used in the search for former President Donald Trump’s Florida. home can endanger FBI agents or be used by Trump’s lawyers to intimidate witnesses.
Rep. Adam B. Schiff (D-Calif.) told CNN’s “State of the Union” that he understood the public interest in seeing that the affidavit is “genuine” but warned of the unintended consequences of releasing the document.
“I think the administration is making a strong argument that in the early stages of the investigation, when it could jeopardize the pursuit of justice, this is not the time to essentially give Trump’s lawyers a roadmap on how to intimidate witnesses or derail a legitimate investigation,” Schiff said.
Schiff’s comments came amid the lingering fallout from the Aug. 8 search for Trump’s Mar-a-Lago estate in South Florida, where a large team of agents recovered boxes of documents containing top-secret and top-secret materials.
Schiff pointed out that Trump has in the past retaliated against anyone he considers a whistleblower, including by accusing them of treason. Schiff also referred to an armed person apparently motivated by Trump’s “incendiary rhetoric” to try to break into an FBI office in Ohio, who was killed after an hours-long standoff.
Schiff, along with House Oversight Committee chairman Carolyn B. Maloney (DN.Y.), last week asked the intelligence committee for a “damage assessment” report regarding Trump’s mishandling of top-secret information. On Sunday, Schiff said he hadn’t received that yet, but has “every expectation” that it would be shared with lawmakers.
Schiff defended the Justice Department’s approach to the search, saying he was confident Attorney General Merrick Garland “took every precaution” and “did everything” to obtain the documents before the Mar-a search. -Lago.
How a dossier dispute led the FBI to Mar-a-Lago. to search
A federal judge considering disclosure of part of the affidavit said last week he is inclined to do so after asking the Justice Department to redact parts of it. Multiple news outlets, including The Washington Post, called on the court to release the affidavit.
The most senior Republican on the House Intelligence Committee, Rep. Michael R. Turner (Ohio), told CBS’s “Face the Nation” that the affidavit should be released so the public can see if the search was justified on the grounds of national security. “Show us what you found,” Turner said. “It certainly doesn’t affect the investigation.”
Turner said the public needs to understand why the FBI has devoted extensive resources to the search for Mar-a-Lago at a time when the government faces other “imminent threats to national security,” including Chinese espionage, the war in Ukraine. , drug smuggling and people smuggling. human trafficking along the border with Mexico.
Lawmakers from both parties on Sunday criticized statements by some Republicans who attacked the FBI for the Mar-a-Lago search.
On ABC’s “This Week,” Rep. Liz Cheney (R-Wyo.) said she was “ashamed to hear that Republicans are immediately and reflexively attacking FBI agents who were executing search warrants.”
Cheney, who suffered a crushing primary defeat last week, widely seen as punishment for her opposition to Trump and her role as vice chair of the House selection committee investigating the January 6, 2021 Capitol attack, said she has seen no evidence of a partisan motivation for the FBI raid.
“I just think it’s for us as a party to be in a position where we reflexively attack professional law enforcement officers to defend a former president who behaved like this one — it’s a very sad day for the party,” she said.
Rep. Dan Crenshaw (R-Tex.) appeared on CNN’s “State of the Union” and labeled Republican calls to “blame the FBI” as “crazy.”
“Ninety-nine percent of Republicans are not on that train,” Crenshaw said.
But Crenshaw said the agency’s strong criticism was not responsible for the August 11 attempted attack on an FBI office in Ohio by a gunman killed by police.
“What we want is responsibility. We want transparency’, he says. “And the criticism we are leveling against the FBI and DOJ is fully justified. It’s not that criticism that leads a madman to attack an FBI.”
David Laufman, the former chief of counterintelligence at the Justice Department, said he thought the Department should return to court with a “reasonable offer” on a federal judge’s suggestion that parts of the affidavit held by the FBI search has been used, can be unsealed or released with redactions.
He stressed that the government will want to ensure that partisan actors do not create a “carnival atmosphere” around the investigation.
“The Justice Department and the FBI are committed to protecting the integrity of confidential law enforcement actions taken,” Laufman said in “Face the Nation.”
“I think the Department and the FBI are now trying to understand what they can live with, regarding public disclosures,” he said. “And there are some parts of the affidavit that I think they will be willing to make public.”