House Democrats release intelligence memo defending DOJ, FBI investigation

House Intelligence Committee Democrats on Saturday released their memo defending the Justice Department (DOJ) and FBI against allegations of surveillance abuses made in a memo by committee Republicans.

The 10-page Democratic memo charges that the Republican memo was wrong to assert that the FBI's investigation of Russian election meddling resulted from the creation of the so-called Steele dossier — an unverified private intelligence document detailing Trump's ties to Russia.

The Democratic memo claims that the FBI had been investigating Trump associates for seven weeks before the dossier, authored by former British spy Christopher Steele, was handed over to them. This, according to the memo, means that the FBI did not rely on the dossier to obtain a Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) warrant to spy on Trump campaign foreign policy adviser Carter Page.

The GOP memo  — which was assembled by House Intelligence Committee chairman Rep. Devin NunesDevin Gerald NunesThe Hill's Morning Report — Ford, Kavanaugh to testify Thursday as another accuser comes forward House panel signals Russia probe document dump before midterms Russia probe accelerates political prospects for House Intel Dems MORE (R-Calif.) and his staff  — depicted a Justice Department fractured by bias against Trump while he was a candidate, but did not specify any particular criminal statutes that may have been violated. 

According to the GOP document, information from the Steele dossier was "essential" to the acquisition of surveillance warrants on Trump campaign aide Carter Page. It claims that then-Deputy FBI Director Andrew McCabeAndrew George McCabeThe Hill's 12:30 Report — Sponsored by Delta Air Lines — Rosenstein heads to White House | Expects to be fired | Dems investigate second Kavanaugh allegation McCabe: Rosenstein firing would put Mueller probe at risk House Judiciary chair threatens subpoena if DOJ doesn’t supply McCabe memos by Tuesday MORE told the committee in December that without the information from the Steele dossier, no surveillance warrant for Page would have been sought. 

Aside from rebutting these claims, the new Democrat memo reveals that the FISA warrant and its three subsequent renewals were approved by judges who were appointed by Republican presidents. 

The memo also shows that FBI fact-finding contradicted Page's sworn testimony before the House Intelligence Committee, and corroborated parts of the Steele dossier relating to Page.

In the document, Democrats also assert that House Intelligence Committee chairman Rep. Devin Nunes (R-Calif.) did not read many of the underlying classified documents that Democrats say contradict his claims. 

"The Committee Majority's memorandum, which draws selectively on highly sensitive classified information, includes other distortions and misrepresentations that are contradicted by the underlying classified documents," the memo reads, "which the vast majority of Members of the Committee and the House have not had the opportunity to review, and which Chairman Nunes chose not to read himself." 
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The release of the document comes after President TrumpDonald John TrumpHouse Republican threatens to push for Rosenstein impeachment unless he testifies Judge suggests Trump’s tweet about Stormy Daniels was ‘hyperbole’ not defamation Rosenstein faces Trump showdown MORE earlier this month blocked the memo from being made public without redactions. Many lawmakers from both parties argued that the American people deserved the right to view the rebuttal since the GOP memo had been released just weeks before.

Trump claimed at the time of its release, that the information in the GOP memo "totally vindicates" him in the investigation into whether the Trump campaign colluded with Russia to win the election.

Meanwhile, House conservatives have been touting the memo's revelations as “worse than Watergate” and hinted that it could prove the undoing of the federal investigation into Trump’s campaign. 

The White House responded to the release of the Democrats' memo Saturday, saying it fails to answer questions raised by the original GOP document made public earlier this month.

“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,” White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders said in a statement.

Trump later tweeted on the memo, saying: “The Democrat memo response on government surveillance abuses is a total political and legal BUST. Just confirms all of the terrible things that were done. SO ILLEGAL!” 

Nunes said on Saturday that the Democrat rebuttal will not affect the substance of the GOP's document.

"What you’re not going to see is anything that actually rejects what was actually in our memo," Nunes said while speaking at the Conservative Political Action Conference. "What you’re not going to see is anything that actually rejects what was actually in our memo."

"What you basically will read in the Democratic memo is they are advocating that it is okay for the FBI and DOJ to use for political dirt paid for by one campaign and use it against the other campaign," he said.

Nunes said earlier this month that he wanted the Democrat's memo out.

"We think it’s ridiculous on the face of it," Nunes said during an interview on Fox News. "We think it’s very political about how they attack myself, they attack Chairman Gowdy, they turn Carter Page into some super-secret Russian spy, they talk about how Christopher Steele is a really, really good source when we know that he lied to the FBI."

Democrats cheered the release of the memo on Saturday, touting it as proof that Republicans crafted a memo lacking proper context in an attempt to undermine special counsel Robert MuellerRobert Swan MuellerSasse: US should applaud choice of Mueller to lead Russia probe MORE's investigation of alleged collusion between Trump associates and Russia during the 2016 presidential election. 

Rep. Adam SchiffAdam Bennett SchiffHillicon Valley: Rosenstein drama dominates the day | Biz, regulators focus on 5G revolution | New questions over Trump cyber strategy Dems fight to protect Mueller amid Rosenstein rumors Jordan wants Rosenstein to testify before House Judiciary Committee MORE (D-Calif.), the ranking Democrat on the House Intelligence Committee and lead author of the memo, championed the document as a defense of the FBI and Justice Department.

“The Democratic response memo released today should put to rest any concerns that the American people might have as to the conduct of the FBI, the Justice Department and the [Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court]," Schiff said after its release.

House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) went further in her statement, calling on Republicans to end "political charades" surrounding the Russia investigation following the memo's release.

“The release of the House Intelligence Committee Democrats’ memo helps set the record straight on Republicans’ attempts to obstruct the investigation into the Trump-Russia scandal," Pelosi wrote.

In his statement, Senate Minority Leader Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.) lashed out at Trump, who he accused of silencing Democratic opposition by delaying the release of the Democratic memo until redactions were made.

"By initially delaying the release of the memo, the president purposefully silenced any Democratic rebuttal to the fabricated conspiracy theories pushed by Chairman Nunes. Obviously, there is something the president is afraid of," Schumer said.

Both the memos have added to the debate over Mueller's investigation, which shows no signs of slowing down. 

Trump campaign adviser Richard Gates on Friday pleaded guilty to two charges brought against him by Mueller’s team in federal court in Washington, D.C.: one count of conspiracy against the United States and one count of making a false statement to the FBI agents investigating Russian interference. 

Mueller filed the criminal information one day after he unveiled a new superseding indictment charging Gates and Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort with a slew of financial-related crimes stemming from their work for pro-Russian political forces in Ukraine over the past decade. The alleged crimes are unrelated to the work Manafort and Gates did for the Trump campaign.

 

Dem.countermemo by M Mali on Scribd

 

Updated at 8:00 p.m.