Former CIA Director Leon Panetta suggested Sunday that House Republicans were “irresponsible” in releasing their politically-charged “FISA memo” because they didn’t gather enough information to put their charges in context.
The Republican leaders of the House Intelligence committee argued in the memo they released Friday that FBI and Justice Department officials, as part of the Russia collusion investigation, requested a surveillance warrant from the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court on a Trump campaign adviser that was based, at least in part, on an anti-Trump dossier financed by Democrats.
Panetta, a Democrat, told “Fox News Sunday” that the committee led by Chairman Devin Nunes, R-Calif., released the declassified memo “without looking at the entire (warrant) application, without talking to the judges who actually make these decisions.”
“I think that’s irresponsible,” said Panetta, who in his Washington career was also the Pentagon secretary, a Clinton administration chief of staff and California congressman.
Panetta has been critical about the release of the memo since before it was released.
On Thursday, the day before the memo was made public, Panetta told NBC that President Trump was at risk of creating a “constitutional crisis” by pushing for its release over the objections of the FBI and Justice Department.
Panetta on Sunday defended that stance amid criticism that he had overstated the situation.
“In order for our democracy to function, you have to have a relationship of trust between the president and those who enforce the law — the Justice Department and the FBI,” he told Fox News. “And if that trust breaks down, then I think it undermines the rule of law in this country and that, in effect, creates a crisis.”