Ex-Bush Adviser Fran Townsend: FBI Director Prepared to Rebut Nunes Memo If WH Releases It

By Susan Jones | February 1, 2018 | 9:01 AM EST

Fran Townsend served as President George W. Bush's homeland security adviser. (Photo: Screen grab/CBS)

(CNSNews.com) - Fran Townsend, the former homeland security adviser to President George W. Bush, said on Thursday there's no way the FBI relied solely on the Steele dossier to get a FISA warrant to surveil members of the Donald Trump campaign.

She also said sources in the FBI have told her that FBI Director Christopher Wray plans to issue a rebuttal if President Trump decides to release the secret memo that now sits on his desk.  

Republicans on the House intelligence committee wrote the four-page memo based on classified information provided by the FBI, and they voted to make it public last week, pending a presidential review.

"My understanding from sources inside the FBI is thast Director Wray is prepared to rebut it if the White house decides to releasse the Nunes memo -- Director Wray is prepared to issue a rebuttal," Townsend told CBS on Thursday morning.  

"And so the question is, what will that contain? Does that tee up a real confrontation between the White House and the FBI?"

Townsend, who spent 13 years in the Justice Department, also explained how the FISA process works.

"I ran this unit in the Justice Department that got these FISA warrants," Townsend said. "There's multiple internal reviews in the FBI; there's a legal review at the Justice Department; it goes to the attorney general or, in this case, the deputy who reviews it. And then it goes to an independent federal judge who looks at it.

"No FISA warrant relies on a single piece of evidence," Townsend continued. "So if the allegations from Chairman Nunes is that they relied solely on the Steele dossier -- that's not possible, it never happens, there would have been multiple pieces of evidence. It just -- it doesn't work that way."

In a statement issue Wednesday, FBI DIrector Wray said the FBI has "grave concerns about material omissions of fact that fundamentally impact the memo’s accuracy." He and most Demcrats are urging the Trump White House not to release the memo.

Townsend said she has not seen the memo, but it reportedly details abuses of FISA-authorized surveillance in connection with the FBI's Trump-Russia investigation.

Townsend described the Nunes memo as an "advocacy piece." "This is Chairman Nunes's summary of what he believes the abuses are. For that reason, it's one-sided," Townsend said. She said she believes it would be best for the Republican memo and the memo prepared by Democrats to come out at the same time.

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