WASHINGTON — The 10-page Democratic memo intended to counter the GOP memo related to surveillance of a former Trump campaign official has been released, with some redactions.
Read the memo here:
Here are highlights from the memo:
- The Democratic memo claims the dossier compiled by Christopher Steele was not the impetus for the Russia investigation, and was far from the only source of information used in the process of obtaining warrants under FISA against Page: “Christopher Steele’s reporting, which he began to share with an FBI agent (redacted) through the end of October 2016, played no role in launching the FBI’s counterintelligence into Russian interference and links to the Trump campaign. In fact, Steele’s reporting did not reach the counterintelligence team investigating Russia at FBI headquarters until mid-September 2016, more than seven weeks after the FBI opened its investigation, because the probe’s existence was so closely held within the FBI.”
- The memo also claims the FBI investigation would have continued without the information from Steele. “As committee testimony bears out, the FBI would have continued its investigation, including against (redacted) individuals, even if it had never received information from Steele, never applied for a FISA warrant against Page, or if the FISC had rejected the application,” it claims.
- The memo claims four judges, all appointed by Republicans, approved of the initial FISA warrant application and subsequent renewals independently.
- The memo says FISA was not used to spy on Mr. Trump or his campaign. (Mr. Trump in January had claimed it might have been used to spy on his campaign.) “FISA was not used to spy on Trump or his campaign,” the memo says.
- The Democratic memo, countering Republicans’ claims that the political connections to Steele’s information had not been disclosed, alleges the DOJ had revealed that political connection. “While explaining why the FBI viewed Steele’s reporting and sources as reliable and credible, DOJ also disclosed: Steele’s prior relationship with the FBI; the fact of and reason for his termination as a source; and the assessed political motivation of those who hired him,” the memo claims.
- The memo claims Page was told of the existence of information about Hillary Clinton by Igor Devykin in July 2016. That is roughly the time the information started leaking out to the public.
- The Democratic memo also claims Page lied to the committee under oath
Both Republicans and Democrats seemed to think the Democratic memo bolsters their own previously held positions.
In a statement, House Intelligence Committee ranking member Rep. Adam Schiff, D-Calif., said his memo shows Republicans “deliberately omitted” information in their memo. Schiff had been pushing for the release of the Democratic memo for weeks.
“The FBI supplied information to the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court that Russia might be colluding with Trump campaign associates,” Schiff said in a statement. “DOJ provided the court with a comprehensive explanation of Russia’s election interference including evidence that Russia courted another Trump foreign policy advisor, George Papadopoulos, and that Russian agents previewed their dissemination of information damaging to Hillary Clinton. Russian assistance would, as we would learn in the Papadopoulos plea, take the form of the anonymous disclosure of thousands of Hillary Clinton and DNC emails. The FBI had ample reason to believe that Carter Page was acting as an agent of a foreign power based on his history, including the fact that he had previously been a target of Russian recruitment, his travel to Russia, and other information.”
House Intelligence Committee Chairman Devin Nunes, R-Calif., seemed to think the Democratic memo proved his initial points.
“The American people now clearly understand that the FBI used political dirt paid for by the Democratic Party to spy on an American citizen from the Republican Party,” Nunes said in a statement. “Furthermore, the FISA court was misled about Mr. Page’s past interactions with the FBI in which he helped build a case against Russian operatives in America who were brought to justice. It defies belief that the Department of Justice and FBI failed to provide information to a secret court that they had provided to an open federal court regarding their past interactions with Mr. Page. “
White House press secretary Sarah Sanders released this statement upon the release of the Democratic memo, calling it “politically driven.”
“While the Democrats’ memorandum attempts to undercut the president politically, the president supported its release in the interest of transparency,” Sanders said. “Nevertheless, this politically driven document fails to answer serious concerns raised by the Majority’s memorandum about the use of partisan opposition research from one candidate, loaded with uncorroborated allegations, as a basis to ask a court to approve surveillance of a former associate of another candidate, at the height of a presidential campaign. As the majority’s memorandum stated, the FISA judge was never informed that Hillary Clinton and the DNC funded the dossier that was a basis for the Department of Justice’s FISA application.”
Page said the latest memo underscores the “immediate disclosure of all my FISA applications and other relevant documents.”
“This latest smear campaign by DNC loyalists is going to turn out the same way as their original multimillion dollar attack of 2016,” Page said. “As we’ve seen many times before with the felonious news leaks of the past year, this new round of misinformation surrounding efforts by Washington to illegally influence the 2016 election inflicts even more damages on the instigating perpetrators from the swamp. Today’s latest memo further underscores the critical importance of the immediate disclosure of all my FISA applications and other relevant documents, as requested by the House Intelligence Committee, both Congressional Judiciary Committees, Judicial Watch, the New York Times, Yale Law School, et al.”
Five days after the committee first voted to release the Democrats’ memo earlier this month, White House counsel Don McGahn said in a letter that, though the president was “inclined to declassify” the memo, the White House could not authorize its release because it contained “numerous properly classified and especially sensitive passages.”
In a subsequent tweet, Mr. Trump wrote that the Democrats submitted “a very political and long response memo which they knew, because of sources and methods (and more), would have to be heavily redacted, whereupon they would blame the White House for lack of transparency. Told them to re-do and send back in proper form!”
Only a week before that, and over intense objections from the FBI, the president approved the release of the four-page memo drafted principally by the staff of House Intelligence Committee Chairman Devin Nunes, R-Calif. In advance of that memo’s release, FBI Director Christopher Wray issued a rare public statement expressing “grave concerns about material omissions of fact” that impacted the Republican memo’s accuracy. It was released without redaction and within five days after the committee used an arcane House rule to make the document public.
The release of the Democrats’ 10-page memo, which is based on the same underlying, highly-classified intelligence as the Republicans’ memo, would appear to conclude a month-long period of bitter infighting among the committee’s members, whose responsibilities of overseeing the country’s 17 intelligence agencies and charge of investigating Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election were largely put on hold while the memo fights played out on Capitol Hill.
Even before the public release of the Republicans’ memo, Democrats decried it as misleading and irresponsible, and accused Republicans of selectively using information in an effort to discredit the Justice Department and FBI and to undermine the work of special counsel Robert Mueller.
Among the central claims in Republicans’ memo was that an unverified dossier authored by former British intelligence officer Christopher Steele made up an essential part of the FBI’s request for a warrant from the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court to surveil former Trump campaign aide Carter Page. It also contended that officials failed to disclose to the court that Steele’s work was itself compromised by bias, and that it was financed by the Democratic National Committee and a law firm employed by Hillary Clinton’s presidential campaign.
In a statement at the time, Schiff called that a “serious” mischaracterization.
“The majority suggests that the FBI failed to alert the court as to Steele’s potential political motivations or the political motivations of those who hired him,” Schiff said, “but this is not accurate.”
Republicans said their memo called into question the “legitimacy and legality” of the DOJ and FBI’s interactions with the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court, and claimed that bias among leadership at those institutions facilitated efforts to undermine the Trump campaign and presidency.
In a tweet following the Republican memo’s release, Mr. Trump claimed that the memo “totally” vindicated him in Mueller’s probe.