FISA Memo: Everything You Need to Know: House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy statement and video

House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy statement on the declassification of a memo prepared by the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence majority:

“It is Congress’s constitutional duty and responsibility to conduct oversight of the Executive Branch.  The American people deserve to know the facts and have a transparent and open government—even when it comes to the delicate balance between security and privacy. The Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) provides our government with the ability to utilize surveillance resources to protect American citizens. Because of the sensitivity of this process, it is imperative the American people have the utmost faith that applications to obtain warrants against American citizens are based on ironclad facts that provide strong evidence of a threat to the country. In this case, the Intelligence Committee’s FISA memo makes clear that the full disclosure of facts to the court did not occur. Most notably, it was omitted that the author of an unverified political document disclosed to the court was an ardent and paid-political opponent of President Trump. Protecting against this type of politicization of the intelligence process is a primary reason why the Intelligence Committee in the House of Representatives was created. As the committee prepares for the release of the minority memo, we must recommit that despite political differences, our single greatest responsibility is to protect the American people. Our law enforcement agencies do that dutifully every day and this oversight work ensures they will be able to continue to do that every day moving forward.”  

Video Transcript

REP. TREY GOWDY: You have a right to know what happened with this FISA process and whether reforms are warranted.

REP. DEVIN NUNES: The American citizens that are represented before this court, have to be protected. And the only place that can protect them is the U.S. Congress.

NEWS CLIP 1: It has been the talk of Washington for weeks and today Republicans released a memo

NEWS CLIP 2: The memo reveals partisan bias at the Justice Department.

NEWS CLIP 3: Grassley and Graham confirmed the information and went further. Revealing that information was passed from British spy Christopher Steele through an intermediary close to the Clinton’s, and then to the State Department.

REP. JOHN RATCLIFFE: The Republican memo fairly raises questions about why certain facts were never disclosed to the FISA court.

NUNES: Political dirt was used by the FBI, and they knew it was political dirt to open a counter-intelligence investigation into the other campaign.

GOWDY: This dossier was paid for by the Democrat National Committee and Hillary Clinton.  They hired a political opposition research firm, who hired Christopher Steele, who wrote it. See how easy and straightforward that is? It tells you the source with clarity and specificity. Now contrast that with the way it was presented to the court. For reasons the Democrats never can explain, the FISA application went to great lengths to avoid identifying a material point about the financial source behind the dossier.

NEWS CLIP 4: Neither the initial FISA application in October 2016, nor any of the renewals, disclose or reference the role of the DNC, Clinton campaign, or any party/campaign in funding Steele’s efforts.

GOWDY: The Democrats claim Chris Steele was a reliable source.  But he wound up being dismissed as a source by the FBI for two different reasons. And in addition to that, Steele’s reliability isn’t really the seminal issue.  He didn’t know of the facts firsthand. He repeated what sources in Russia were telling him. So for that matter, a parrot could have been the source. If all you are going to do is repeat back what nameless, faceless people in another country are telling you, your experience and expertise aren’t nearly as important as the reliability of the people you are listening to.

RATCLIFFE: The DOJ and FBI had four opportunities to disclose these facts in the original FISA application in each of three subsequent renewal applications over a nearly year-long period—but never did. Now the Democrats on the intelligence committee, who opposed the release of our Republican memo, have since prepared their own “counter” memo.

GOWDY: Every single Republican on the House Intelligence Committee voted to release the Democrat memo. Every, single one. On the other hand, not a single, solitary Democrat voted to release the Republican memo. Not, a single one.

The lead Democrat most responsible for the drafting of the Democrat memo is Rep. Adam Schiff. Rep. Schiff didn’t have much interest in finding out how much of the dossier was used, whether it was vetted before it was used, whether it was vetted for that matter after it was used, or who paid for it. Keep in mind they went to court to keep you from finding out who paid for the dossier.

RATCLIFFE: The American people will learn that the Democrats memo attacks Republicans for questioning the integrity of DOJ lawyers like Bruce Ohr and FBI agents like Peter Strozk, who have either been demoted or removed. The Democrats memo also defends the integrity of Christopher Steele as a reliable and credible source even though the FBI and Department of Justice terminated him.

NEWS CLIP 5: In September of 2016, Christopher Steele admitted to Justice Department official Bruce Ohr his feelings against then candidate Trump. Steele said he “was desperate that Donald Trump not get elected and was passionate about him not being President.”  

GOWDY: After all, we have FISA only because you consented to have it. With that consent comes the obligation of those entrusted with power to exercise that power judiciously and to answer legitimate questions when you have them. And asking questions of those in positions of power used to be something everyone could agree on.

Nunes Releases Statement on Democratic Memo

Nunes Statement on Democrat Memo
Washington, February 9, 2018

House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence Chairman Devin Nunes issued the following statement today:

“Along with other Intelligence Committee Republicans, I had warned that the Democratic memo contains many sources and methods. Ranking Member Schiff pledged to seek the input of the Department of Justice and FBI regarding the memo’s public release, and it’s no surprise that these agencies recommended against publishing the memo without redactions. Intelligence Committee Republicans encourage the minority to accept the DOJ’s recommendations and make the appropriate technical changes and redactions so that no sources and methods are disclosed and their memo can be declassified as soon as possible.”

The letter sent to the Committee outlining the Intelligence Community’s concerns with the memo is here.

No Democratic Memo; Wikileaks Offers Up Another Million Dollar Reward

Nunes Memo Critically Analyzed by Representative Jerrold Nadler, NY (D)

House Judiciary Committee Ranking Member Nadler Shares Analysis of Nunes Memo

Feb 5, 2018
WASHINGTON, D.C. — On Saturday, House Judiciary Committee Ranking Member Jerrold Nadler (D-NY) sent a legal analysis of the “Nunes memo” to his Democratic colleagues. You can view it here and below.

To Democratic Subscribers

House Judiciary Committee Analysis of the Nunes Memo

Sending Office: Committee on the Judiciary – Minority Staff

February 3, 2018

Dear Democratic Colleague:

On Friday, House Republicans released the so-called “Nunes memo,” a set of deeply misleading talking points drafted by the Republican staff of the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence.  House Republicans did so over the objections of the Department of Justice, the Director of the FBI, the Director of National Intelligence, and several Senate Republicans, among others.

You may have heard President Trump describe the allegations in the Nunes memo as a “disgrace.”  He thinks “a lot of people should be ashamed.”  President Trump is right, in his way.  This embarrassingly flawed memo is a disgrace.  House Republicans should be ashamed.

Although I have had the benefit of reading the materials that form the basis for the Nunes memo, most members have not—including, reportedly, Chairman Nunes.  Accordingly, I am forwarding the legal analysis below for use by your office based on my review the Nunes memo and on outside sources.

Please let my staff know if we can provide your office with any additional guidance.

Sincerely,
Jerrold Nadler
Ranking Member
House Committee on the                                                                              Judiciary

 

I.          The FISA court found probable cause to believe that Carter Page is an agent of a foreign power.  Nothing in the Nunes memo rules out the possibility that considerable evidence beyond the Steele dossier helped the court reach that conclusion.

We should not lose sight of a critical and undisputed fact: the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court found probable cause to believe that Carter Page—a member of the Trump campaign’s foreign policy team—was an agent of the Russian government.

The Nunes memo states that, “[o]n October 21, 2016, DOJ and FBI sought and received a FISA probable cause order . . . authorizing electronic surveillance on Carter Page.”  To obtain an order to conduct surveillance under Title I of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act, the government must provide “a statement of the facts and circumstances” demonstrating probable cause that “the target of the electronic surveillance is . . . an agent of a foreign power.”

The central allegation of the Nunes memo is that the government committed a fraud when it obtained an order to conduct surveillance of Carter Page, a member of President Trump’s foreign policy team during the campaign.  The memo claims that “[t]he ‘dossier’ compiled by Christopher Steele . . . formed an essential part of the Carter Page FISA application,” but that the government failed to disclose “the role of the DNC, Clinton campaign, or any party/campaign in funding Steele’s efforts.”

If not for this misrepresentation to the court, the story goes, there never would have been a Russia investigation.  This claim is deliberately misleading and deeply wrong on the law.

First, the Nunes memo appears to concede that the investigation into the Trump campaign’s ties to the Russian government was well underway before the government applied for an order to conduct surveillance of Carter Page.  In its final paragraph, the Nunes memo states: “[t]he Papadopoulos information triggered the opening of an FBI counterintelligence investigation in late July 2016.”  The statement refers to George Papadopoulos, another member of the Trump campaign’s foreign policy team.  There is no reason to dispute the Nunes memo’s assertion that the FBI was actively investigating the Trump campaign months before they approached the court about Carter Page.

Second, there is already a well-established body of law dealing with allegations that “material and relevant information was omitted” from the application to the court—and, in the case of Carter Page, that law appears to fall almost entirely on the side of the government.  In Franks v. Delaware (1978), the U.S. Supreme Court held that a court may only void a search warrant if the government “knowingly and intentionally, or with reckless disregard for the truth,” included false information or excluded true information that was or would have been critical to the court’s determination of probable cause.  The Nunes memo alleges nothing that would even come close to meeting this standard.  Indeed, we have every indication that the government made its application to the court in good faith.

So, to be clear: Carter Page was, more likely than not, an agent of a foreign power.  The Department of Justice thought so.  A federal judge agreed.  That consensus, supported by the facts, forms the basis for the warrant issued by the FISA court.  The Russian government waged a massive campaign to discredit our election.  Carter Page appears to have played a role in that effort.  The FBI has a responsibility to follow these facts where they lead.  The Nunes memo would have us sweep this all under the rug.  And for what, exactly?

II.        Christopher Steele is a recognized expert on Russia and organized crime.

Through several acts of willful omission, the Nunes memo alleges the FISA application is tainted because Christopher Steele “was a longtime FBI source who was paid over $160,000 by the DNC and the Clinton campaign . . . to obtain derogatory information on Donald Trump’s ties to Russia.”  The Nunes memo would have us believe the Russia investigation was a Democratic plot from the outset.  That is simply ridiculous.

The Nunes memo does not show that the government relied solely, or even substantially, on the information provided to the FBI by Christopher Steele when it made its application to the court.  It does not show that Steele’s work was compromised by the source of funding.  It does not show that Fusion GPS—the firm that hired Steele to do this work—was any more or less diligent when it worked for Democratic clients than when it worked for Republicans.  And, amazingly, the Nunes memo does not provide a single shred of evidence that any aspect of the Steele dossier is false or inaccurate in any way.

We have no idea if Christopher Steele even knew the source of his funding when Fusion GPS first hired him to research Donald Trump’s connections to the Russian government.  In fact, Fusion GPS initiated the project on behalf of the conservative Washington Free Beacon, not the DNC.  The firm’s task was to provide credible research, and they hired an expert for the job—a retired British intelligence officer, experienced in Russian affairs and well-known to the FBI as a useful source of valuable intelligence in earlier investigations.

Nothing about the source of Steele’s funding or his later opinions about Donald Trump speak to the credibility of his work, or its inclusion in the FISA application.  The Nunes memo gives us no reason to doubt the court’s determination of probable cause to believe that Carter Page was an agent of the Russian government—particularly given Page’s later admissions to the press about his interactions with Russian officials.

And nothing about the payment from the DNC is unethical or improper.  Christopher Steele is one of the world’s leading experts on Russian organized crime.  His job was to uncover the facts.  Many feared during the election that the Trump campaign had been compromised by the Russian government.  Two guilty pleas and two indictments later, those fears seem well justified.

III.       The Nunes memo provides no credible basis whatsoever for removing Rod Rosenstein as Deputy Attorney General.

The Nunes memo makes a point of stating that a number of officials, including Deputy Attorney General, “signed one or more FISA applications on behalf of DOJ.”  Because Attorney General Jeff Sessions is recused from any investigation related to the 2016 campaigns, Deputy Attorney General Rosenstein directly oversees the Special Counsel’s investigation.  The Deputy Attorney General has become a target for those attempting to interfere with that investigation.  President Trump has refused to rule out using the Nunes Memo as pretext for dismissing the DAG.  “You figure that one out,” he said when asked about the Deputy Attorney General on Friday.

Whatever one thinks of the merits of the Nunes memo—and it is clearly not a serious document—the memo provides no basis whatsoever to justify the removal of Rod Rosenstein as Deputy Attorney General from his critical and trusted position.   The Nunes memo focuses largely on process that transpired before the Deputy Attorney General took office.  There is no reason to believe that he reviewed or approved any FISA application for submission to the court except according to normal process and procedures.

The Nunes memo leaves out a critical point in this area as well.  Under the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act, when seeking a renewal of a surveillance order, the government is required to provide the court “a statement of the facts concerning all previous applications . . . involving any of the persons, facilities, or places specified in the application.”  That requirement includes a description of the intelligence received so far and its value to the underlying case.  Although he was not involved in the initial application, the Deputy Attorney General could not have signed an application to renew surveillance on Carter Page if the government was unable to show that it had already gathered valuable evidence under existing orders and expected that collection to continue.  Under these circumstances, any decision not to approve the renewal would have appeared to have been politically motivated.

If the President is looking to fire Mr. Rosenstein, he will have to look outside the Nunes memo for his pretext.

IV.       The Nunes memo shows that House Republicans are now part and parcel to an organized effort to obstruct the Special Counsel’s investigation.

On January 24, 2018, the Department of Justice wrote to warn the House Intelligence Committee that releasing the memo would be “extraordinarily reckless.”  On January 29, the FBI issued a statement citing “grave concerns” with inaccuracies and omissions in that document.  On January 30, the Majority twice blocked our request to move the House Judiciary Committee into closed session, where we would have been free to discuss our own concerns with the plan to make this information public without context, without meaningful input from the FBI, and without providing Members with access to the source materials.  On February 1, I wrote to Chairman Goodlatte asking for him to call the FBI Director and other officials from the Department of Justice to brief us on an emergency basis—before the Nunes memo was made public—but my request was again ignored.

House Republicans do not speak up when President Trump attacks the press, smears career investigators by name, or demands loyalty from the leadership of the Department of Justice and the FBI.  They have taken no significant steps to understand how the Russian government worked to undermine our last election.  They show little interest in protecting our next election from foreign attack—even though President Trump’s hand-picked intelligence chiefs warn us that the threat is very real.

Until now, we could only really accuse House Republicans of ignoring the President’s open attempts to block the Russia investigation.

But with the release of the Nunes memo—a backhanded attempt to cast doubt on the origins of the Special Counsel’s investigation—we can only conclude that House Republicans are complicit in the effort to help the President avoid accountability for his actions and for the actions of his campaign.

In the end, who could possibly benefit from the release of this shoddy work?

Only Donald Trump, who will use these half-truths to further interfere with the Special Counsel, and Vladimir Putin, who now has a clear view of how our intelligence community attempted to interrupt his operations in the United States.

 

Additional Background

            Christopher Steele served as an intelligence officer with British intelligence service MI6 from 1987 until his retirement in 2009.  From 1990 to 1992, he worked under diplomatic cover as an MI6 agent in the Embassy of the United Kingdom to Russia.  By 2006, Steele headed the Russia Desk at MI6.  He remains one of the world’s foremost experts on Russia—and, in particular, connections between the Russian government and organized crime.

In September 2015, the conservative Washington Free Beacon retained the services of Fusion GPS to conduct opposition research on Donald Trump.  When President Trump emerged as the Republican candidate, the Clinton Campaign and the Democratic National Committee hired Fusion GPS for the same services.  As part of this project, Christopher Steel produced what became known as the Steele dossier.

            Carter Page was known to the United States government for his involvement with the Russian government long before he joined the Trump campaign.  Court documents show that Russian intelligence operatives attempted to recruit Page in 2013.  One spy thought that Page was “an idiot” who wants to “rise up” and “earn lots of money.”

Then-candidate Donald Trump named Page a part of the Trump campaign’s foreign policy team on March 21, 2016.  In July 2016, with the explicit approval of the Trump campaign, Page traveled to Moscow to give a speech on “the future of the world economy” and to meet with Russian officials.  Despite several public accounts of these meetings, Page would later deny any contact with the Russian government.  By August 2016—when it had become apparent that the Russian government was working to undermine the election—the Trump campaign began to distance itself from Carter Page.

Later reports show that, in testimony before the House Intelligence Committee, Page admitted to meeting with Russian officials and to briefing at least one “senior person” on the Trump campaign about those meetings.

None of this information relies upon the Steele dossier.

The relevant legal standard for evaluating the FISA application is laid out in Franks v. Delaware.  “[t]here is, of course, a presumption of validity with respect to the affidavit supporting the search warrant.”  438 U.S. 154, 171.

 

Grassley Memo: After House GOP Memo, FBI OKs Release of Unclassified Steele Referral

Note: The law being referred to in memo concerns:

falsifies, conceals, or covers up by any trick, scheme, or device a material fact;

 makes any materially false, fictitious, or fraudulent statement or representation;  or

 makes or uses any false writing or document knowing the same to contain any materially false, fictitious, or fraudulent statement or entry.

——-

Feb 05, 2018

FBI Required Redactions of Unclassified Material; Grassley Seeks Full Declassification Review
     WASHINGTON – The Federal Bureau of Investigation signed off on an unclassified version of the criminal referral by Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Chuck Grassley and Crime and Terrorism Subcommittee Chairman Lindsey Graham only after the White House declassified a House Intelligence Committee (HPSCI) Majority memo largely based on the same underlying documents.  Grassley is now calling on the FBI to update the classification of the referral to allow complete disclosure of important context from the documents on which it is based.
     “Seeking transparency and cooperation should not be this challenging.  The government should not be blotting out information that it admits isn’t secret, and it should not take dramatic steps by Congress and the White House to get answers that the American people are demanding. There are still many questions that can only be answered by complete transparency.  That means declassifying as much of the underlying documents as possible,” Grassley said.
      On January 4, Grassley and Graham referred Christopher Steele, the author of an unverified “Trump dossier,” to the FBI for further investigation after reviewing Justice Department documents that conflicted with Steele’s sworn statements in British court about the distribution of his research.  At the time of the referral, the existence of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) warrant applications described in the HPSCI memo was still classified.  Grassley had sought the FBI’s cooperation to confirm that portions of the referral derived from sources other than the applications were unclassified. Following weeks of consultation, the FBI asked the committee to redact additional material despite confirming that it was, in fact, not classified, and only approved the release of the unclassified, heavily-redacted version of the referral after the White House formally declassified the House memo.
     While the HPSCI Majority memo is no longer classified, the underlying text of the FISA applications that it references is still controlled by the Executive Branch.  The Grassley-Graham referral contains verbatim quotes from the FISA applications that are not included in the HPSCI memo.  Specifically, the referral quotes the government’s description of Steele’s statements to the FBI about his contacts with the media. Those quotes remain redacted in the version currently approved for public release.  Friday evening, Grassley formally requested the FBI to update the classification of the referral and remove the extensive redactions to allow a more complete understanding and better inform the public debate.  That letter follows:
February 2, 2018
VIA ELECTRONIC TRANSMISSION
The Honorable Christopher A. Wray
Director
Federal Bureau of Investigation
935 Pennsylvania Avenue, NW
Washington, DC 20535
The Honorable Rod J. Rosenstein
Deputy Attorney General
U.S. Department of Justice
950 Pennsylvania Avenue, N.W.
Washington, D.C. 20530
Dear Director Wray and Deputy Attorney General Rosenstein:
     Pursuant to Section 3.5 of Executive Order 13526, I am writing to formally demand a Mandatory Declassification Review of the classified criminal referral Chairman Graham and I sent to the FBI and Justice Department regarding Christopher Steele’s potential violations of 18 U.S.C. § 1001.[1]
     On January 4, 2018, Senator Graham and I sent a classified memo to the Justice Department and the FBI.  The eight-page memo referred for further investigation materially inconsistent statements reportedly made by Christopher Steele, the author of the anti-Trump dossier funded by the Democratic National Committee and the Clinton campaign during the 2016 Presidential election.  On January 19, 2018, an FBI Congressional liaison, Greg Brower, sent a letter claiming that a few of the paragraphs marked as unclassified in our memo contained classified information.  A redacted copy of Mr. Brower’s letter is attached for reference.
     As I explained in a speech on the Senate floor, the FBI’s claims mischaracterize and misstate what those paragraphs actually say.  Nonetheless, on January 29, I wrote to Director Wray and Inspector General Horowitz, raising my objections to the FBI’s classification claims, but attaching a further redacted version of the referral that addressed FBI’s concerns.  On February 2, 2018, Mr. Brower stated that the FBI had no concerns with the public release of that further redacted version, which is attached to this letter.
     Today, the President formally declassified a memorandum drafted by the majority staff of the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence (HPSCI).[2]  Much of the information in the declassified HPSCI memorandum overlaps with the information in the criminal referral made by Senator Graham and me.  That information has now been declassified and can no longer properly be deemed as classified in our criminal referral.  Accordingly, I ask that you immediately review the classified referral in light of today’s declassification and provide a declassified version of it to the Committee with the declassified version by no later than February 6, 2018.
      Thank you for your prompt attention to this matter.  Please contact Patrick Davis of my staff at (202) 224-5225 if you have any questions.
     Sincerely,
     Charles E. Grassley
     Chairman
     Committee on the Judiciary
     Enclosures: As stated.
cc:       The Honorable Michael E. Horowitz
Inspector General
United States Department of Justice
The Honorable Dianne Feinstein
Ranking Member
Committee on the Judiciary
Director, Office of Information Policy
United States Department of Justice
1425 New York Ave, NW
Suite 11050
Washington, DC 20530

 

Heavy redacted memorandum: Referral of Christopher Steele for Potential Violation of 18 U.S. C. § 1001 

https://www.judiciary.senate.gov/imo/media/doc/2018-02-02%20CEG%20LG%20to%20DOJ%20FBI%20(Unclassified%20Steele%20Referral).pdf

For more on the importance of the Grassley memo, see:

The Grassley Letter Everyone Is Ignoring Is Way More Important Than the Nunes Memo

It debunks the idea of an anti-Trump FBI conspiracy, while making a stronger argument that the Carter Page wiretap was unwarranted.

https://www.politico.com/magazine/story/2018/02/09/the-grassley-letter-everyone-is-ignoring-is-way-more-important-than-the-nunes-memo-216956

Grassley Memo: Sen. Feinstein Refutes Criminal Referral of Christopher Steele

House Intelligence Committee Minority Response to Release of “Misleading Memo”

Washington, February 2, 2018 

Washington, DC – Today, the Minority of the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence responded to the release of HPSCI Chairman Nunes’ memo:

“Chairman Nunes’ decision, supported by House Speaker Ryan and Republican Members of the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence, to publicly release misleading allegations against the Department of Justice and Federal Bureau of Investigation is a shameful effort to discredit these institutions, undermine the Special Counsel’s ongoing investigation, and undercut congressional probes. Furthermore, their refusal to allow release of a comprehensive response memorandum prepared by Committee Democrats is a transparent effort to suppress the full truth.

“As the DOJ emphasized to Chairman Nunes, the decision to employ an obscure and never before used House rule to release classified information without DOJ and FBI vetting was ‘extraordinarily reckless.’ The selective release and politicization of classified information sets a terrible precedent and will do long-term damage to the Intelligence Community and our law enforcement agencies. If potential intelligence sources know that their identities might be compromised when political winds arise, those sources of vital information will simply dry up, at great cost to our national security.

“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 the 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 premise of the Nunes memo is that the FBI and DOJ corruptly sought a FISA warrant on a former Trump campaign foreign policy adviser, Carter Page, and deliberately misled the court as part of a systematic abuse of the FISA process. As the Minority memo makes clear, none of this is true. The FBI had good reason to be concerned about Carter Page and would have been derelict in its responsibility to protect the country had it not sought a FISA warrant.

“In order to understand the context in which the FBI sought a FISA warrant for Carter Page, it is necessary to understand how the investigation began, what other information the FBI had about Russia’s efforts to interfere with our election, and what the FBI knew about Carter Page prior to making application to the court – including Carter Page’s previous interactions with Russian intelligence operatives. This is set out in the Democratic response which the GOP so far refuses to make public.

“The authors of the GOP memo would like the country to believe that the investigation began with Christopher Steele and the dossier, and if they can just discredit Mr. Steele, they can make the whole investigation go away regardless of the Russians’ interference in our election or the role of the Trump campaign in that interference. This ignores the inconvenient fact that the investigation did not begin with, or arise from Christopher Steele or the dossier, and that the investigation would persist on the basis of wholly independent evidence had Christopher Steele never entered the picture.

“The DOJ appropriately provided the court with a comprehensive explanation of Russia’s election interference, including evidence that Russian agents courted another Trump campaign foreign policy adviser, George Papadopoulos. As we know from Papadopoulos’ guilty plea, Russian agents disclosed to Papadopoulos their possession of stolen Clinton emails and interest in a relationship with the campaign. In claiming that there is ‘no evidence of any cooperation or conspiracy between Page and Papadopoulos,’ the Majority deliberately misstates the reason why DOJ specifically explained Russia’s role in courting Papadopoulos and the context in which to evaluate Russian approaches to Page.

“The Majority suggests that the FBI failed to alert the court as to Mr. Steele’s potential political motivations or the political motivations of those who hired him, but this is not accurate. 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. Unlike Committee Republicans, however, we will ask the relevant agencies to propose any necessary redactions to protect any sources and methods not already disclosed by Chairman Nunes’ document.

“It is telling that Chairman Nunes put 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.”

The memo and letter from the White House can be found here.

Judicial Watch Sues for Russia Collusion FISA Documents

(Washington, DC) — Judicial Watch announced today that it filed a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) lawsuit against the Justice Department for FBI documents regarding the FISA (Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act) warrant application submitted to – and responses from – the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court related to alleged collusion between Russia and Trump campaign associates (Judicial Watch v. U.S. Department of Justice (No. 1:18-cv-00245)).

Judicial Watch filed suit in the United States District Court of the District of Columbia after the agency rejected a July 19, 2017, FOIA request seeking:

Copies of all proposed and all final signed FISA applications submitted to the FISC relating to Russian interference in the 2016 election, allegations of collusion between people associated with the Trump campaign and Russia, and any known Trump associates regardless of context;

Copies of all FISC responses to the above-mentioned applications in which the Court notified the FBI or Justice Department that it would not grant the proposed applications or recommended changes. If any such FISC responses were provided orally, rather than in writing, please provide copies of FBI or Justice Department records memorializing or otherwise referencing the relevant FISC responses;

Copies of all FISC orders relating to the above mentioned applications, whether denying the applications and certifications, denying the orders, modifying the orders, granting the orders, or other types of orders.

“Today’s House Russia FISA memo makes a compelling case that the FISA court was misled and severely abused by top officials in the Justice Department and FBI,” said Judicial Watch President Tom Fitton. “The American people should be able to see for themselves the details of how the Obama administration officials (and Rod Rosenstein of the Trump administration) justified spying on the Trump team. From what we know publicly, this may be the worst government abuse scandal in a generation – which makes it urgent the Justice Department stop stonewalling the release of the alleged Trump-Russia collusion FISA documents.”

Democracy 21: Watchdogs Challenge Irresponsible Nunes Memo that Trump Reportedly May Use to Get Rid of Deputy AG Rosenstein

January 29, 2018

Watchdogs Challenge Nunes Memo that Trump Reportedly May Use to Get Rid of Deputy AG Rosenstein, A Key Player in Russia/Trump Investigation

Watchdogs also Call on Speaker Ryan to Remove Nunes from Any Further Participation in Russia/Trump Investigation

Sixteen watchdog groups and individuals sent a letter to House Speaker Ryan today challenging the so-called “Nunes memo” as irresponsible. The letter called on Speaker Ryan “to act promptly to remove Chairman Nunes from any further participation in any aspect of the Russia investigation.”

The letter also noted reports that President Trump may use the Nunes memo to get rid of Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein. Deputy AG Rosenstein is a key player in the Russia/Trump investigation and has final responsibility at the Justice Department for overseeing the Mueller Special Counsel investigation.

The letter to Speaker Ryan stated:

Published reports state that the Nunes memo specifically alleges abuses by FBI Deputy Director Andrew McCabe and Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein, who is in charge of overseeing the Mueller investigation.

According to a Washington Post article (January 27, 2018), “The president has told close advisers that the memo is starting to make people realize how the FBI and the Mueller probe are biased against him, and that it could provide him with grounds for either firing or forcing Rosenstein to leave, according to one person familiar with his remarks.”

The letter further stated:

According to a New York Times article (January 28, 2018), “Mr. Trump has long been mistrustful of Mr. Rosenstein, the Justice Department’s No. 2 official, who appointed the special counsel, Robert S. Mueller III, and now oversees his investigation into Mr. Trump’s campaign and possible obstruction of justice by the president. Mr. Trump considered firing Mr. Rosenstein last summer. Instead, he ordered Mr. Mueller to be fired, then backed down after the White House counsel refused to carry out the order, The New York Times reported last week. Mr. Trump is now again telling associates that he is frustrated with Mr. Rosenstein, according to one official familiar with the conversations.”

On January 25, 2018, Senator Warner, Ranking Member on the Senate Intelligence Committee,  said, “Any attempt to remove the Special Counsel, pardon key witnesses, or otherwise interfere in the investigation, would be a gross abuse of power, and all members of Congress, from both parties, have a responsibility to our Constitution and to our country to make that clear immediately.”

According to the letter to Speaker Ryan:

Given that he was a member of President Trump’s transition team, Chairman Nunes has had an inherent conflict of interest from the outset in participating in an investigation into the activities of Trump campaign officials and Trump associates. For that reason, Chairman Nunes never should have been put in charge of the Committee’s Russia investigation. This was clearly demonstrated in March when Chairman Nunes engaged in a knowing deception of the American people in trying to provide cover for President Trump.

The letter stated:

Given this blatantly inappropriate action, in which Chairman Nunes engaged in a knowing deception of the American people, you as Speaker should have required him to permanently step away from the Russia investigation at that time.

Instead, Chairman Nunes is still involved in the Russia investigation and has continued to abuse his position. He has shown little interest in getting to the bottom of Russian interference in the 2016 elections, which is the purpose of the Committee investigation.

According to the letter:

In his latest effort, Chairman Nunes and his staff have prepared a classified document that reportedly claims abuses have been committed by FBI and Justice Department officials. This undisclosed document has been used by outside Trump supporters to attack Special Counsel Mueller, the Justice Department and the FBI, and to demand that the classified document be publicly released.

The letter also noted that “Chairman Nunes has reportedly refused to make his memo available to the Justice Department and the FBI to review.”

According to the letter:

On January 24, 2018, Department of Justice Assistant Attorney General Stephen Boyd sent a letter to Chairman Nunes about the classified memo. The letter stated, “We believe it would be extraordinarily reckless for the Committee to disclose such information publicly without giving the Department [of Justice] and the FBI the opportunity to review the memorandum and to advise the HPSCI on the risk of harm to national security and to ongoing investigations that could come from public release.”

The letter from the Justice Department further stated, “Additionally, we believe that wider distribution of the classified information presumably contained within your memorandum would represent a significant deviation from the terms of access negotiated in good faith by the Department, HPSCI, and the office of Speaker Paul Ryan.”

The letter to Speaker Ryan stated:

Under these circumstances, it would be wrong to release the irresponsible Nunes memo to the public – a memo which is, according to the Justice Department, based on underlying documents that Chairman Nunes hasn’t read, and that represents a violation of the agreement that you and Chairman Nunes made with the Justice Department.

The letter concluded:

Nevertheless, if the memo is wrongly released or leaked to the public, in whole or in part, then as Speaker, it is your institutional responsibility to the American people to ensure that all information necessary to determine the truth and accuracy of the Nunes memo is also quickly made available to the public, consistent with legitimate restrictions on the release of classified and sensitive law enforcement information. We call on you to meet this obligation.

We also call on you to act promptly to remove Chairman Nunes from any further participation in any aspect of the Russia investigation.

Signers of the letter are:

American Oversight

Coalition to Preserve, Protect and Defend

Common Cause

CREW

Demand Progress Action

Democracy 21

Equal Justice Society

Free Speech for People

Justin Hendrix

Kathleen Clark

MoveOn.org

Amb. (ret.) Norman Eisen, chief White House ethics lawyer, 2009-2011

People for the American Way

Public Citizen

Revolving Door Project

Richard Painter, chief White House ethics lawyer, 2005-2007

Attachments: (1 total)

#ReleaseTheMemo Celebrated: Twitter Funnies

“Release the Memo” Memes: Twitter Funnies

Intelligence Committee to Meet at 5 pm According to HPSCI Calendar

The United States House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence (HPSCI) is a committee of the United States House of Representatives, currently chaired by Congressman Devin Nunes (California). Created in 1977, HPSCI is charged with oversight of the United States Intelligence Community—which includes the intelligence and intelligence-related activities of the following seventeen elements of the U.S. Government—and the Military Intelligence Program.

January 29 at 5 pm:

Meeting: Full Committee Business Meeting: Consideration of Pending Committee Business and Other Matters

Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence


There is no published agenda other than “pending committee business and other matters.”

The agenda indicates it will be a full committee, so these are the reps that should be there for the meeting.

Speculation continues that the committee will vote on the release of the controversial memo written by Chair Devin Nunes.

HPSCI Majority Members

HPSCI Minority Members

Adam Schiff, Ranking Member
28th District of California
Jim Himes
4th District of Connecticut
Terri Sewell
7th District of Alabama
Andre Carson
7th District of Indiana
Jackie Speier
14th District of California

Mike Quigley
5th District of Illinois

Eric Swalwell
15th District of California

Joaquin Castro
20th District of Texas

Denny Heck
10th District of Washington

And from Twitter today:

“Release the Memo” Firsthand Reports; Wikileaks Offers $1million Reward