By Vincent Verdile
On February 2 2018, Republican Devin Nunes, Chairman of the House Intelligence Committee, had his memo alleging Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) misconduct, de-classified by President Donald Trump, according to Politico. With its initial release, the White House stated “it raised serious concerns about the integrity of the justice department and FBI’s Russia investigation,” reported by BBC. On the contrary, Attorney General Jeff Sessions continues to remain confident in the department and said he was determined to “fully and fairly ascertain the truth,” also reported by BBC. Both the top Democrat on the House Intelligence Committee, Congressman Adam Schiff, and former FBI Director James Comey shared similar views. Respectively, it was both “a Republican effort to derail Mr. Muller,” and an effort to “destroy trust” of the intelligence community, according to The Independent.
The six page memo highlights “the legitimacy and legality of certain [Department of
Justice] DOJ and [Federal Bureau of Investigation] FBI interactions with the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court (FISC)” and “the troubling breakdown of legal processes,” which relates to the filing of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) warrant for Carter Page, a former campaign advisor for President Donald Trump.
The first point made by the memo is the concern of the Christopher Steele dossier used as evidence for requesting the FISA warrant. This dossier was prepared by Steele, a former British spy, who was paid over $160,000 by the Democratic National Committee (DNC) and the Hilary Clinton Campaign to “obtain derogatory information on Donald Trump’s ties to Russia.” The middle man for the agreement was both the law firm Perkins Cold, and research firm Fusion GPS. Although known to the FBI, it was not disclosed in the FISA warrant.
Another key piece of evidence, according to the memo, was the warrant’s emphasis on a September 26, 2016 Yahoo News article This allegedly aligned with Steele’s dossier, which focuses on Carter Page’s July 2016 trip to Moscow. However, filed in British Courts, Steele admitted to meeting with Yahoo News and other outlets in Sep 2016, as directed by Fusion GPS. This ultimately disproves the Yahoo News article, seeing as how the information was leaked by Steele himself. Steele was suspended and terminated from being an FBI informant due to “unauthorized disclosure to the media of his relationship with the FBI.” Once again, this crucial detail, highlighting Steele’s reliability, was omitted from the FISA warrant.
Also called into question was the former British spy’s political stance. Stated in the memo, the FBI was alerted to a conversation between Steele and then-Assistant Deputy Attorney General Bruce Ohr. Steele allegedly told him he was “desperate that Donald Trump not get elected and was passionate about him not being president.” Furthermore, Ohr’s wife was employed with Fusion GPS, and actively assisted the opposition research for the DNC and the Clinton campaign. Neither of these important details were shown on the FISA warrant application.
GOP lawmakers also highlighted an issue with the mentioning of George Papadopoulos in the FISA warrant. They argued the “connection” made between him and Page lacked evidence, and the FBI agent in charge of the counter intelligence investigation in July 2016 lacked credibility. Agent Pete Strzok was reassigned after “improper” text messages were found between him and FBI attorney Lisa Page. They consisted of pro-Clinton and anti-Trump conversations, in addition to “extensive discussions about the investigation, orchestrating leaks to the media” and meeting with Deputy Director McCabe to discuss an “insurance” policy for Trump’s election. These issues with Agent Strzok were also never disclosed in the FISA warrant.
Democrats continue to push for the release of their own counter memo, which has been blocked by House Intelligence Republicans. Democrat Senator Dick Durbin warned of a “constitutional crisis” if the memo is used as justification for President Trump to fire Muller or end the investigation into his possible collusion with Russia.