Rep. Trey Gowdy (R-S.C.) shut down the suggestion from CBS news anchor John Dickerson that there was anything unsavory about Rep. Devin Nunes' (R-Ca.) decision to inform President Trump about evidence he thinks might substantiate the president's claim of wiretapping.
"I want to start with this question of unmasking that Chairman Nunes brought out," Dickerson began Sunday on "Face the Nation." "Has he shown you any of what caused him to suggest that Obama officials are doing surveillance, captured some Trump campaign associates and then unmasked them in the process of investigating?"
"He has not shown it to me, John," Gowdy answered. "I am vaguely familiar with it, no more, no less familiar with it than Adam Schiff is. I just tell you this. My understanding is Chairman Nunes briefed the commander in chief on matters unrelated to the Russian investigation, so if that is big deal in Washington, then we have sunk to a new low."
"Well, I guess Congressman Schiff would say but the president is the one that is a part of this investigation being done by the committee, so the chairman shouldn't be talking to him," Dickerson offered.
"Well, then, let me repeat what I said," Gowdy reiterated. "That the chairman of House Intel briefed the commander in chief that has nothing to do with the Russian investigation. So if the commander in chief cannot be briefed by the chairperson of the House Intel Committee on a matter that has nothing to do with the FBI investigation, then I don't know what they can talk about, John."
"He is the commander in chief," Gowdy interjected.
"So if this is an issue outside of the one they are investigating at the moment in the committee and that you are investigating," Dickerson asked, "should it then be taken out of this investigation? Have a separate investigation on both the issues that Chairman Nunes has discovered this week and then also the one you are quite concerned about, which is the leaks that have been in the paper, some of them potentially illegal. Get that out of this question of Russia to keep things from getting mixed the way they appear to have?"
"Well, they are separate," Gowdy responded, "and I heard my friend from California mention that independent commission, thank goodness we have one, it is called the FBI. The FBI has counterintelligence jurisdiction and they have criminal jurisdiction, and what we learned on Monday, and it is about the only thing we learned on Monday was that the FBI's investigating both. They are the world's premiere law enforcement agency, they are independent, you have women and men at the Department of Justice who have dedicated their careers to the blind pursuit of justice. It doesn't get any more independent than that. So we have an independent entity investigating counter-intelligence and allegations of potential criminality, let Congress do its job which is provide oversight over the intelligence community."
"Do you have any sense from the chairman about the schedule of when this new information that we have been talking about here," Dickerson continued, "this question of unmasking, when you might have enough information to make a judgment about whether this is, in fact, something that was done improperly or whether, as Congressman Schiff said, this is just the normal procedures for going through unmasking?"
"It is just one more reason to bring director Comey and Rogers back on Tuesday," Gowdy said, "It's incredibly important. Adam is right, that Adam is right that the incidental collection of U.S. persons happens. What I wish some of my friends over on the other side would be a little more outraged about is the political use of that unmasking. So I understand we collect U.S. citizens but we don't read about those U.S. citizens on the first page of the New York Times and the Washington Post. That admission to threatening the surveillance programs is also a felony. So I hope that we learn more about that on Tuesday."
"All of this is important, John," Gowdy continued. "Every bit of it. Russia is not our friend. They attacked our Democracy. I want to investigate every fact that is related there to, but the felonious dissemination of classified information is the only thing we know for sure is a crime, and it would be nice if we showed the same level of interest in that."
"Let me ask you, you chaired a committee that got a lot of attention in the papers," Dickerson asked. "What is your sense of the health of this committee? We have seen dueling press conferences. There has been a lot of accusations and passive aggression here, how healthy is this committee?"
"I think it is fine," Gowdy answered. "I actually think Chairman Nunes and ranking member Schiff are both good men and I think they get along fine. I think what you learned Monday, because I heard the witnesses almost 100 times, John, say they could not answer the question in that setting and I want you and your viewers to ask themselves, why are we satisfied with every other facet of culture having serious investigations done confidentially, the grand jury, judges meeting with attorneys, police officers interviewing suspects, all of that is done confidentially, and we are more than satisfied with those investigations, and yet when it comes to Congress, we think we ought to have a public hearing. 100 times those two witnesses said they could not answer the question in that setting."
"Why in the hell would we go back to that setting if the witnesses can't answer the questions?" Gowdy concluded.
Gowdy had also defended the president on the first travel ban, saying that it was likely he was getting bad advice from his legal aides. Democrats have criticized Nunes, the chair of the House Intelligence Committee, for going immediately to Trump with his controversial information, rather than informing the committee.
Some have called for an independent prosecutor, citing Nunes' own previous tenure as part of the Trump transition team.