- Trey Gowdy said classified documents from the Russia probe contain information that is “embarrassing” for former CIA Director John Brennan, the FBI, and Justice Department.
- Gowdy made the remarks during an interview Thursday. By Friday, President Donald Trump reneged on an order to declassify a slew of documents from the investigation.
- Gowdy also teased documents related to George Papadopoulos, the former Trump adviser who allegedly sparked the FBI’s investigation.
South Carolina Republican Rep. Trey Gowdy said the information in a batch of Russia investigation documents that President Donald Trump was considering for declassification will prove “embarrassing” for the Department of Justice, FBI, and former CIA Director John Brennan.
Gowdy made the remarks in an interview with Fox News on Thursday. The next day, President Donald Trump retracted his order to the Justice Department to declassify and release the documents. But the Republican left open the possibility that the records could be released down the road.
But Gowdy, the chairman of the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee, provided a preview of what to expect from the documents if they are eventually released.
“I’ve read it. Some of it’s embarrassing for the Department of Justice — some of it’s embarrassing for the FBI. Embarrassment is not a reason to classify something,” said Gowdy. “A lot of it should be embarrassing to John Brennan, and maybe therein lies why he is so adamant that this information not be released.”
Brennan suggested Tuesday on MSNBC’s “Andrea Mitchell Reports” that government officials resign rather than comply with Trump’s directive to release the records. Brennan, who now serves as an MSNBC contributor, has been a vocal critic of Trump’s over the past year. Trump recently responded by ordering Brennan’s security clearance revoked. Gowdy criticized Brennan, saying the Obama appointee is “part of the reason we are in this historic conundrum.” He did not describe what information in the classified documents will embarrass Brennan and other government officials. But as CIA director, Brennan was directly involved in gathering and sharing intelligence used to investigate whether members of the Trump campaign colluded with the Russian government.
The documents in question are related to Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) warrants obtained against former Trump campaign adviser Carter Page as well as FBI notes of interviews used to obtain the warrants.
Trump also ordered the declassification of FBI notes of interviews with Bruce Ohr, the Justice Department official who met numerous times with Christopher Steele, the author of the infamous dossier.
The FBI relied heavily on the unverified dossier to obtain four FISA warrants against Page.
Gowdy, who has read the classified reports, said the information is not going to put national security at risk, as Brennan and other former and current intelligence community officials have argued.
“I don’t think it’s going to change anyone’s mind, but I’ve seen nothing in it that is going to jeopardize the national security interest of this country,” he said.
“Other than one document related to George Papadopoulos, I don’t think people are going to be that interested in it. And I don’t think any minds are going to be changed,” he continued.
The FBI opened its investigation into possible campaign collusion in July 2016 based on information about Papadopoulos, a former Trump campaign adviser.
An Australian diplomat named Alexander Downer said during a May 10, 2016, meeting in London, Papadopoulos told him the Russian government may use derogatory information about Hillary Clinton in the campaign.
Two weeks earlier, Papadopoulos met with a Maltese professor named Joseph Mifsud who told him he had learned that Russians had “dirt” on Clinton in the form of “thousands” of her emails.
Papadopoulos has been sentenced to 14 days in jail for lying to the FBI about the timing of his meetings with Mifsud. But he has denied colluding with Russia and of seeing, handling or disseminating any emails.