[Congressional Record Volume 164, Number 22 (Monday, February 5, 2018)]
[Pages S598-S599]

                          RUSSIA INVESTIGATION

  Mr. LEAHY. Madam President, on another matter, last Friday, Devin 
Nunes, the House Intelligence Committee chairman, received approval to 
release a classified memo that purports to show that a FISA application 
to conduct surveillance of a Trump campaign aide was politically 
motivated. Over the weekend, the President, speaking in the third 
person, told us this memo ``totally vindicates `Trump' '' in the Russia 
investigation. Following a pattern that has become all too familiar, 
the President also viciously attacked the FBI in a series of tweets, 
something we have never seen by any President, either Republican or 
Democratic--certainly not in my memory.
  There are more than a few problems with this, the most disturbing of 
which go well beyond this highly flawed and misleading memo. In case 
anyone believes this memo represents a serious attempt to address 
serious problems within the FBI or within our FISA surveillance 
authorities, I want to raise a few points they might consider because 
if they think it actually addresses serious problems, they either 
haven't read it or they don't understand the serious problems.
  For years, I have been leading calls in the Senate to protect our 
civil liberties and reform our surveillance authorities under FISA. I 
am appreciative of the number of Republicans and Democrats who have 
joined me in that cause. This memo, however, has absolutely nothing to 
do with improving FISA. Nor does this partisan memo have anything to do 
with serious oversight of FISA authorities more broadly.
  Instead, whether intentional or not, this memo represents a direct 
attack on rank-and-file professionals in both our law enforcement and 
our national security agencies. The memo deliberately distorts a 
multilayered process that is required to obtain and renew a judicial 
warrant for a suspected foreign agent. This meticulous process to 
obtain or renew a judicial warrant is conducted by career, nonpartisan 
professionals. In this case, the process led to a warrant, approved by 
a Federal judge and was renewed three times, for Trump campaign adviser 
Carter Page.
  Carter Page is an individual who bragged about his ties to Russia. He 
even claimed at one point publicly to be an adviser to the Kremlin. He 
was also targeted for recruitment by known Russian spies beginning in 
2013. Both of these facts are conveniently left out of the Nunes memo.
  But the Nunes memo was not about capturing relevant facts or 
conducting actual oversight. If it were, the House Intelligence 
Committee Chairman would have read the underlying intelligence that 
purported to form the basis of the memo. He did not. If it were about 
actual oversight, he would have granted the FBI Director's request to 
brief his Committee prior to releasing the memo. He did not. If it were 
about transparency, he would have allowed the Democratic response memo 
to be released at the same time. He did not.
  Instead, his Committee voted along party lines last week to block the 
Democratic response. We will learn later this evening if they are going 
to change course and allow its release.
  I have been here since the beginning of both the House and the Senate 
Intelligence Committees. I have never seen anything as partisan as 
  Proponents of this memo claim it proves that the FISA warrant of 
Carter Page was politically motivated. They claim that the so-called 
Steele dossier was the reason why a FISA warrant was granted and that 
the dossier could not be relied on because it was indirectly funded by 
Democratic interests. What it ignores is that this document was only 
one part of the lengthy FISA application establishing probable cause. 
The judge had to look at all of it.
  Never mind that the judge was explicitly informed of the likelihood 
of a political motivation behind the dossier. The Republican memo 
conveniently leaves that out. By leaving it out, it undermines its 
central claim that the FBI hid the ball on the dossier's political 
origins. And never mind that the dossier was originally funded by a 
conservative newspaper, or that its author had previously been assessed 
by the FBI to be a reliable source.
  One can disregard all of those facts and still see the memo for what 
it is: a complete and utter dud. The memo itself just disproves its own 
premise. Because of its reference to the controversial Steele dossier, 
President Trump and his allies paint this FISA application as the 
Russia investigation's original sin. They ignore the fact that the memo 
also reveals that an entirely separate source unrelated to the Steele 
dossier provided information to the FBI that triggered the opening of 
the FBI's counterintelligence investigation into the individuals 
associated with the Trump campaign. Oddly enough, that is something we 
did not see in President Trump's tweets over the weekend.
  What we knew about the memo leads to one and only one conclusion: The 
FBI did its job. Rank-and-file professionals within the FBI and DOJ 
acted appropriately when obtaining a FISA warrant of Carter Page. 
Frankly, the President's attacks on these career professionals for 
obtaining the FISA warrant are entirely without merit.
  I have been here with Republican Presidents and Democratic 
Presidents, eight Presidents in all, and I have never seen anybody make 
such unwarranted attacks on career professionals. These professionals, 
I suppose, if we really look, are Republicans, Democrats, and some are 
apolitical. All of them are professional. What the Republican memo from 
the House reveals is nothing about abuses in the FISA process, but it 
does reveal a lot about both the President and the House Republicans 
who released it. It represents yet another desperate, hyperpartisan 
attempt to smear key Justice Department officials and undermine the 
Russia investigation.
  Again, in my 40-some-odd years in the Senate, I have never seen this 
under either Republican or Democratic leadership or either a Republican 
or Democratic President.
  Let's remember what is at stake. This is not about a Republican memo, 
which is nothing more than a sloppy, bad-faith attempt to distract from 
the special counsel's Russia investigation, nor is it about the Steele 
dossier. That represents an almost irrelevant side story. The only 
thing that matters here is that a foreign adversary attacked our 
democracy in 2016, suffered no consequences, and is poised to do it 
again. The President is not willing to address this threat. He is not 
even willing to implement sanctions on Russia that were overwhelmingly 
approved by the vast majority of both Republicans and Democrats in the 
Congress. The only thing this President has done in response to this 
threat is disparage the very people who defend our country from such 
foreign attacks--our dedicated law enforcement and intelligence 
professionals. I am afraid that for the President, it is Trump first 
and America second.

  The fact is, we are under constant attacks on our political system by 
Russia. Which countries did the President single out in the State of 
the Union Address as countries that pose grave threats to the United 
States? Venezuela and Cuba. No. It is the second largest nuclear power 
in the world that is a threat, a power that has shown, by anybody's 
analysis or efforts--many of them successful--to undermine the 
electoral system not only of our country but of others.
  It is more important than ever that the Special Counsel be able to 
complete his investigation without interference from either the 
President or any misguided allies in Congress. We need to know first 
how Russia interfered in our election, and whether anyone in the 
President's circle aided that effort or tried to cover it up.
  I have been in the Senate for more than 43 years. I have never been 
as concerned as I am today for the institutions in our country and for 
our ability to stay united in the face of a true, unprecedented threat. 
I don't say this lightly.
  Madam President, I have walked back and forth the dirt road in front 
of my home in Vermont. I have paced the floor and thought about it. I 
have gone back through notes I have taken through Presidents going back 
to Gerald Ford when I first came here, notes I took as a young, 34-
year-old U.S. Senator. I have never been as concerned as

[[Page S599]]

I am now. I have never been as concerned about this great country 
having the ability to stay united in the face of a true, unprecedented 
threat. Russia will be back, and many say Russia has never left. Enough 
with the partisan distractions. It is past time we faced this threat 
standing together. The American people deserve that much.
  Madam President, I yield the floor and suggest the absence of a 
  The PRESIDING OFFICER. The clerk will call the roll.
  The senior assistant legislative clerk proceeded to call the roll.
  Mr. CORNYN. Mr. President, I ask unanimous consent that the order for 
the quorum call be rescinded.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER. Without objection, it is so ordered.