Could releasing Nunes memo impact U.S. intelligence gathering?

Could Nunes memo release affect FISA warrant
Could Nunes memo release affect FISA warrant 03:08

President Trump approved the release of a classified memo Friday by House Intelligence Committee Chair Devin Nunes alleging improper surveillance of the Trump campaign as part of the Russia investigation. The FBI said it has "grave concerns" about the accuracy of the information and what it would expose about the FBI's sourcing and methods. FBI Director Christopher Wray could issue a rebuttal.

The memo focuses in part on the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) warrant which authorized the surveillance of former Trump campaign foreign policy adviser Carter Page and his alleged contacts with Russian agents.

CBS News senior national security analyst Fran Townsend served as homeland security adviser to President George W. Bush and also spent 13 years working in the Justice Department overseeing the unit that handled FISA warrants. Townsend joined "CBS This Morning" to discuss how the memo's release could impact the FBI and Justice Department. 

"It really undermines the integrity and credibility of the FBI, and the long-term potential impact of that is your foreign allies who you rely on to share classified information with you to prevent threats to this country may not share it with you if they have to worry about it becoming public," Townsend said. 

Rep. Schiff: Nunes memo "partisan politics" 05:00

According to Townsend, it could also impact the "very careful process" of obtaining a FISA warrant.

"I think you're going to be more careful about what you put in it if you're worried about it being revealed and that's the very thing you don't want to happen, right," Townsend said. "You want the court to have all the potential information they can. What you don't want is people holding things back because they're afraid it's going to be revealed."

Another concern related to the memo is how it could affect the credibility of Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein and in turn, the Russia investigation that he oversees. If Rosenstein were taken off the Russia probe, his replacement could remove Special Counsel Robert Mueller.

"Rod Rosenstein has been a target of President Trump's criticisms and I think people worry – he's unlikely to fire Mueller because of what that controversy would be, but if he took out Rod Rosenstein, he's really the principal lawyer overseeing the Mueller investigation," Townsend said.