On Friday the House Intelligence Committee, led by Republicans, released a controversial memo called the “Nunes memo” which was named after California Republican Devin Nunes, who serves as Chairman on the House Permanent Select Committee, and alleges surveillance abuses by the U.S. intelligence community during the 2016 Russian investigation that focused on collusion with Trump’s campaign officials.
Earlier in the week, Republicans in the House voted to publically release the Nunes memo before redaction, breaking Department protocol over the handling of highly sensitive information, leading to sharp rebukes from Democrats and the U.S. intelligence community.
President Trump approved the release of the memo on Friday.
Contained in the Nunes memo are several claims about the U.S. intelligence community abusing established surveillance protocols under the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) that were executed during the 2016 presidential election and focused on Trump’s campaign foreign policy advisor Carter Page, founder of Global Energy Capital, an investment and consulting firm that specializes in the oil and gas industry in Russia and Central Asia.
Carter Page joined consulting firm Euroasia Group in 1998 and left after a few months.
Ian Bremmer, President at Euroasia Group, tweeted in 2017 that Carter Page’s pro-Russian position was “not a good fit” for the group.
In September 2016, the U.S. intelligence community investigated contacts between Carter Page and sanctioned Russian officials, including Igor Sechin, CEO of Russian oil company Rosneft who is close with Russian President Vladimir Putin.
Page later resigned from the Trump campaign following media coverage about his ties with Russia.
The Nunes memo states that the FBI and the Department of Justice (DOJ) obtained one initial warrant for surveillance from Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) targeting Carter Page, followed by three renewals.
At the time, Department of Justice Sally Yates signed one or more FISA applications as did Department of Justice Rod Rosenstein and acting Assistant Attorney General at the Department of Justice Dana Boente.
The newly released Nunes memo claims that Department protocols were violated regarding the government’s production to the court of all material and relevant facts for the surveillance warrant, reinforced by the 90 day period of renewal.
In the 4 independent opportunities before the surveillance court, the government didn’t accurately provide an accounting of the relevant facts and, according to their findings, “material and relevant information was omitted.”
The Nunes memo further explained that a “dossier” compiled by Christopher Steele on behalf of the Democratic National Committee and the Hillary Clinton campaign “formed an essential part of the Carter Page FISA application.”
Christopher Steele is a respected former British intelligence officer whose dossier stated that Russia obtained some compromising information on U.S. President Donald Trump.
Between 2014 and 2016, Christopher Steele wrote over 100 reports on Russian and Ukrainian issues, which were read within the U.S. State Department and he was considered as a credible source by the U.S. intelligence community.
The Nunes memo explained that Steele was a longtime FBI source who was paid $ 160,000 by the Democratic National Committee (DNC) and Clinton campaign via the lawfirm Perkins Coie and research firm Fusion GPS to obtain derogatory information on Donald Trump’s ties to Russia and the application doesn’t mention that Steele was ultimately working on behalf of the DNC and Clinton campaign, or that the FBI had separately authorized payment to Steele for the same information.
The Nunes memo states that the Carter Page FISA application also cited extensively a September 23, 2016 article from Yahoo News which focuses on Carter Page’s July 2016 trip to Moscow, Russia.
It was noted that the article doesn’t corroborate the Steele dossier because it is derived from information leaked by Steele himself to Yahoo News.
Democrats in the House Minority Committee responded to the Nunes memo with a released statement yesterday that strongly criticized the release of “misleading allegations against the Department of Justice and FBI” which they wrote is a shameful effort to discredit these institutions, undermine the Special Counsel’s ongoing investigation, and undercut Congressional probes.
“The Republican document mischaracterizes highly sensitive classified information that few Members of Congress have seen, and which Chairman Nunes himself chose not to review. It fails to provide vital context and information contained in DOJ’s FISA application and renewals, and ignores why and how the FBI initiated, and Special Counsel has continued, its counterintelligence investigation into Russia’s election interference and links to the Trump campaign. The sole purpose of the Republican document is to circle the wagons around the White House and insulate the President. Tellingly, when asked whether the Republican staff who wrote the memo had coordinated its drafting with the White House, the Chairman refused to answer.”
The House Minority Committee also wrote that the GOP memo also claims that a Yahoo News article was used to corroborate Steele, but this is not at all why the article was referenced.
“These are but a few of the serious mischaracterizations of the FISA application. There are many more set out in the Democratic response, which we will again be seeking a vote to release publicly on Monday, February 5th.”
The House Minority Committee also criticized Chairman Nunes for putting out this memo without bothering to read the underlying materials, and that he ordered changes to the document without informing his own committee members.
“It is a terrible lapse in leadership that Speaker Ryan failed to intervene and prevent the abuse of classified materials in this way. It is tragic, if all too predictable, that this President would allow the release of the memo despite FBI and DOJ’s expressions of ‘grave concerns about material omissions of fact that fundamentally impact the [Republicans’] memo’s accuracy.’ But most destructive of all may be the announcement by Chairman Nunes that he has placed the FBI and DOJ under investigation, impugning and impairing the work of the dedicated professionals trying to keep our country safe.”
President Trump tweeted earlier today that the Nunes memo “totally vindicates ‘Trump’ in probe.”
He added, “But the Russian Witch Hunt goes on and on. Their was no Collusion and there was no Obstruction (the word now used because, after one year of looking endlessly and finding NOTHING, collusion is dead). This is an American disgrace!”
This memo totally vindicates “Trump” in probe. But the Russian Witch Hunt goes on and on. Their was no Collusion and there was no Obstruction (the word now used because, after one year of looking endlessly and finding NOTHING, collusion is dead). This is an American disgrace!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) February 3, 2018
Former FBI director James Comey who was fired by President Trump in May tweeted yesterday,
“That’s it. Dishonest and misleading memo wrecked the House intel committee, destroyed trust with Intelligence Community, damaged relationship with FISA court, and inexcusably exposed classified investigation of an American citizen. For what? DOJ & FBI must keep doing their jobs.”
That’s it? Dishonest and misleading memo wrecked the House intel committee, destroyed trust with Intelligence Community, damaged relationship with FISA court, and inexcusably exposed classified investigation of an American citizen. For what? DOJ & FBI must keep doing their jobs.
— James Comey (@Comey) February 2, 2018
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