RACHEL MARTIN, HOST:
The FBI and the White House have been locked in a high stakes standoff, and now the controversial memo at the center of it all is expected to go public today. The memo was put together by Republicans on the House Intelligence Committee led by committee chairman Devin Nunes, a close ally of President Trump. It reportedly alleges early missteps by the FBI in the Russia investigation. I'm joined now by former Republican Congressman Mike Rogers, who once led the House Intelligence Committee. Thanks so much for being with us, Congressman.
MIKE ROGERS: Thank you for having me.
MARTIN: You have a unique vantage point because as I mentioned you used to hold Devin Nunes's job as the chair of the Intel Committee, and you worked for the FBI.
ROGERS: I did.
MARTIN: In that vein, do you think this memo should be released?
ROGERS: I don't, for several reasons. One, you're only going to get a small part of the picture. And so what they're purportedly alleging is going to come out in the memo today is that there was some misconduct on behalf of FBI agents and some DOJ officials, lawyers at the Department of Justice, in the application for something called the FISA, which is the secret court that does counterintelligence, espionage cases, terrorism cases, where it needs to be in a classified setting.
ROGERS: And so that's a pretty serious charge. And I would argue - if you have some information that would lead you there, you would likely do a full investigation, taking information, boiling it down into a memo that certainly has only one perspective, and then releasing it at the angst of all of the intelligence community and the FBI I argue is probably not the best way for the public to figure out what in the heck is going on.
MARTIN: So what would you prefer? Would it satisfy your concerns if the Democratic response to this, the Democrats' memo, were released simultaneously?
ROGERS: Well, I hate to - I am not for dueling classified memos being thrown out in public. I just don't think this is a great way to conduct oversight. You know, the Intelligence Committee was the one committee that is supposed to be bipartisan. And people expect you to be bipartisan. They want you to be bipartisan. It's national security. And we would deal with the most sensitive issues in our intelligence community, and they needed that oversight, candidly. It was really an important tool to make sure they didn't get off lane, that somebody was paying attention. And I think the American people would be proud of the work that, well, at least that happened at one time in that committee.
So when you have these dueling memos, now, that's not helping the cause, either. I would go back and say if we believe that there was some misconduct then I believe that it would be worthwhile to have an investigation - we should have both Republicans and Democrats as a part of it - in a classified setting, and then issue a report when it's done so that you have a more robust picture. Remember, I'm always leery of the FBI running out and having press conferences, condemning somebody before they're convicted. And I am equally worried about the congressional body coming out. You know, you can take someone's liberty and someone's character in a minute. It's really difficult to get back. You should be extremely careful. I'm just not sure the memo's going to accomplish that.
MARTIN: Do you believe that releasing this memo is going to have an impact on Bob Mueller and the Russia investigation?
ROGERS: You know, I think it will just - all of these calls for, you know, where people are on their - it's kind of an affirmation news world, right? I tune in to what kind of news I want to receive for the way I believe. And I worry that it's going to empower people who don't want it to happen or aren't interested in this conclusion, think it's a bunch of, you know, horse pucky to be more aggressive. I do worry about that.
MARTIN: You mentioned earlier that - you intimated that you have concerns with the House Intel Committee. Have you - do you believe the committee has lost its credibility in this process?
ROGERS: Unfortunately, I do, you know? And it's not necessarily even the credibility from the public perspective. I know for a fact they've lost credibility, both - they don't trust Republicans and Democrats on this committee anymore to keep a secret in the intelligence community. And, you know, it’s really an odd thing. You have to earn the respect of this community during your oversight. Now, you have lots of tools. You have lots of levers that you can use as chairman of the Intelligence Committee, the HPSCI, in the House to make them comply, to get information to do those things. When you lose that credibility, it’s now you’re playing a hundred questions, you know? I won’t be dishonest, but I won’t tell you the whole truth.
MARTIN: Former Congressman Mike Rogers, former head of the House Intelligence Committee - thanks for your time this morning, sir.
ROGERS: Hey, thanks for having me. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.