The long-awaited House Intelligence Committee memos have both confirmed that the FBI and Department of Justice (DOJ) used uncorroborated third-hand sources, and a dossier funded by the DNC and the Clinton campaign, to get warrants to spy on Donald Trump’s team.
The initial memo was released on Feb. 2 by Republicans in the House Intelligence Committee, and the second memo was released by Democrats in the committee on Feb. 24. While the Democrat memo was intended as a rebuttal to the Republican memo, its release sparked little discussion since it corroborated key information.
Key points in the Republican memo were that FBI and DOJ officials used the Democrat-funded dossier to obtain a spy warrant on Trump campaign volunteer Carter Page, and withheld their knowledge from the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court that the Clinton campaign and DNC paid for the dossier.
It also showed they renewed the spy warrant by corroborating the dossier with a Yahoo News article, which was based on the same source as the dossier, former British spy Christopher Steele, who was getting paid through the DNC and Clinton campaign.
While the Democrat memo confirmed that the Steele dossier was used by the FBI and DOJ to obtain the spy warrant, it downplays the significance of doing so. It states that “only narrow use” was made of “information from Steele’s sources.” The Democrat memo also cites unverified claims in the dossier that Page met in 2016 with executive chairman of the Russian state-owned oil company Rosneft, Igor Diveykin, and with Putin associate Igor Sechin. Page denies the claims.
Obtaining a FISA warrant on a U.S. citizen requires evidence that the targeted individual acted as an agent of a foreign power. The Steele dossier is the source of this allegation against Page.
A response to the Democrat dossier, released by the House Intelligence Committee, notes that the Steele dossier “did not inform the FBI’s decision to initiate its counterintelligence investigation in late July 2016.” The response states that, as the Republican memo says, information on Trump campaign advisor George Papadopoulos started the early FBI investigations in late July 2016.
It notes, however, that after the investigations into Papadopoulos were underway, “the investigation was fueled by Christopher Steele’s dossier, which the Department of Justice (DOJ) and Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) used to get a Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) warrant on Carter Page.
It adds, “DOJ and FBI’s reliance on the DNC- and Clinton-campaign-funded dossier in court filings, not the overall investigation, is the focus of the GOP memo.”
The Democrat memo also acknowledges that the DOJ used a Yahoo News article to corroborate the Steele dossier while filing for a renewal of the FISA spy warrant. The memo argues, however, that the Yahoo News article from Michael Isikoff was meant to “inform the Court of Page’s public denial of his suspected meetings in Russia,” and claims other sources were also used.
The Democrat memo falls short on the facts in this claim, however. The Yahoo News article does not include Page making the alleged “public denial.” The article only states that Page declined requests for comment, and acknowledges that rumors of Page’s meetings were merely allegations.
According to the House Intelligence Committee’s response, the key point with the Yahoo News article was that both the article and the dossier were tied to Steele. The DOJ corroborated a key source by using a news article with claims fed to it by the same source.
It states, “Steele has admitted to meeting with Yahoo News in September 2016, and Isikoff has publicly confirmed that Steele was a source for the article.”
President Donald Trump responded to the Democrat memo, tweeting on Feb. 24 that “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!”
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!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) February 24, 2018