MARY LOUISE KELLY, HOST:
We are following reaction today to the release of the House Intelligence Committee memo detailing concerns over the early stages of the Russia investigation. And we're going to talk now with a member of that House Intelligence Committee who voted in favor of making the memo public - Republican Rick Crawford of Arkansas. He's with us now from Memphis. Congressman, thanks so much for taking the time.
RICK CRAWFORD: Thank you.
KELLY: Start by telling me whose idea it was to write this memo in the first place. How'd it come to be?
CRAWFORD: You know, what we had was sort of a sense of frustration among, at least on our side of the aisle - with some of the irregularities that had been brought to our attention with regard to the action taken by DOJ officials and some FBI officials regarding the issuing and - the request for and issuing these FISA warrants.
KELLY: And why did you feel it was necessary for this memo to become public? What's in there that you feel it's critical for Americans to know?
CRAWFORD: Well, I think what we - the first step that we did was we went into a business meeting, the committee, and discussed bringing this memo to the attention of the whole House. And we passed that. Obviously, it was a party-line vote. The Democrats did not want to allow for the entire House to read the memo. And it built from there in that the conference thought it was necessary to present this...
KELLY: And why? What is in there that you feel the public absolutely has to know to understand what's going on?
CRAWFORD: Congress has a mandate to exercise oversight over federal agencies. That's what we do. And so it really doesn't matter if you're the DOJ or the FBI. You should not be exempt from that oversight. And so this was something that we needed to bring to the attention certainly of our colleagues, but the overwhelming sentiment was that the American people needed to know what the chief law enforcement agencies in the country were doing.
KELLY: Why not release the Democrats' - the Democratic version of their memo at the same time if you're doing this for the sake of letting Americans have information and make up their own minds?
CRAWFORD: Well, I'm not sure that the sequencing has much to do with anything. I think what you're going to see - and I think that we will see that. In fact, it was Chairman Nunes who made the motion to release the Democrat memo to the whole House.
KELLY: So you wouldn't oppose that. You wouldn't oppose their version coming out as well.
CRAWFORD: I don't oppose that. In fact, I voted in the affirmative to see that it was released to the whole House. However, it has to go through the same scrutiny that ours did to make sure that there's no sources and methods revealed so that we don't compromise national security. And so I would encourage members of the House - and it has been released to the members of the House - I would encourage every member of the House to go down and read it and compare and contrast and draw your own conclusions.
KELLY: Last thing, congressman - I want to let you respond directly to the criticism raised by the FBI. The FBI says it has grave concerns about this memo that it leaves out key facts. Is the FBI wrong?
CRAWFORD: I believe they are. And I - but I do share their understanding or at least understand where they're coming from, why they would have grave concerns, because when the American people view this memo it's going to reflect poorly on the FBI and certain individuals in the DOJ. And let me say...
KELLY: But the FBI's statement - that wasn't the context. It was grave concerns about the content of this memo.
CRAWFORD: That may not have been their context. But I'm going to tell you that, yes, if I were one of those individuals, I'd be concerned, too. But let me say, too, for the record that the FBI is by and large a stellar organization. And those folks that are protecting us and doing the work that - the underappreciated work that they're doing, they need to be protected. And those leaders have failed them in that. And so this is not about the FBI. This is about a handful of individuals at the highest levels that are not acting in the best interests of the FBI or the American people.
KELLY: Representative Rick Crawford of Arkansas, Republican member of the House Intelligence Committee. Congressman, thanks again for your time.
CRAWFORD: Thank you. I appreciate it. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.