- The Washington Times - Sunday, February 4, 2018

Rep. Adam Schiff of California said Sunday a House GOP memo criticizing the government’s push to snoop on a Trump campaign aide is a “political hit job on the FBI at the service of the president.”

Mr. Schiff, the top Democrat on the House Intelligence Committee, said his Republican colleagues didn’t even want to read underlying documents used to justify the surveillance warrant.

And he said the memo, which outlined efforts to spy on former Trump adviser Carter Page, doesn’t taint a probe into potential collusion between Russia and Mr. Trump in 2016, since the memo itself says another campaign aide sparked the FBI’s interest by claiming Russia had dirt on Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton.

“The investigation didn’t begin with Carter Page. It actually began with George Papadopoulos,” Mr. Schiff told ABC’s This Week.

Yet Mr. Trump says he is totally vindicated by a four-page memo by the House Intelligence Committee detailing the FBI’s decision to rely in part on an anti-Trump dossier to apply for surveillance warrants against Mr. Page in October 2016.

The dossier was compiled by Christopher Steele, an investigator whose work was backed by Democrats and the Clinton campaign.

“The court was notified a political actor was involved,” Mr. Schiff said.

Yet Republicans say the FBI failed to outline Mr. Steele’s ties to Mrs. Clinton — Mr. Trump’s direct rival — so Congress had no choice but to shine a light on what amounts to malfeasance.

Some conservatives want to prosecute law enforcement officials involved in the application to snoop on Mr. Page, yet moderate Republicans disagree.

“I think that goes a little far,” Rep. Will Hurd, Texas Republican, told ABC.

Mr. Hurd wants to wait and see what the Justice Department’s inspector general has to say.

Leading GOP voices, including House Speaker Paul Ryan, have said the Page episode should be used to root out sloppiness and errors at the FBI, and not to smear the agency as a whole or disrupt special counsel Robert Mueller’s probe into the Trump campaign and Russian meddling.

• Tom Howell Jr. can be reached at thowell@washingtontimes.com.

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