Pressure is growing in Washington for the public release of a classified House Intelligence report, which allegedly ties together the FBI, abuses of FISA requests for surveillance, and the Democrat-funded dossier that was used to frame the Trump-Russia narrative.
Details on the report, referred to as “The Memo,” are still thin. Several members of Congress spoke out on Jan. 19, however, saying its contents expose a scandal that could shake Washington to its core.
“I have read the memo. The sickening reality has set in. I no longer hold out hope there is an innocent explanation for the information the public has seen. I have long said it is worse than Watergate. It was #neverTrump & #alwaysHillary. #releasethememo,” stated Steve King (R-Iowa) on Twitter.
I have read the memo. The sickening reality has set in. I no longer hold out hope there is an innocent explanation for the information the public has seen. I have long said it is worse than Watergate. It was #neverTrump & #alwaysHillary. #releasethememo
— Steve King (@SteveKingIA) January 19, 2018
“I viewed the classified report from House Intel relating to the FBI, FISA abuses, the infamous Russian dossier, and so-called ‘Russian collusion.’ What I saw is absolutely shocking,” stated Rep. Mark Meadows (R-N.C.).
I viewed the classified report from House Intel relating to the FBI, FISA abuses, the infamous Russian dossier, and so-called "Russian collusion." What I saw is absolutely shocking.
— Mark Meadows (@RepMarkMeadows) January 19, 2018
Rep. Matt Gaetz (R-Fla.) stated, “I don’t think it’s appropriate for just members of Congress to be horrified by the memo – the American people have to see it. If we get this memo into the public square, heads are going to roll at the @FBI and @TheJusticeDept. No way every one keeps their job.”
"I don't think it's appropriate for just members of Congress to be horrified by the memo – the American people have to see it. If we get this memo into the public square, heads are going to roll at the @FBI and @TheJusticeDept. No way every one keeps their job." #ReleaseTheMemo pic.twitter.com/e0kzYzIwVq
— Rep. Matt Gaetz (@RepMattGaetz) January 19, 2018
Similar statements were published by several other Republicans, and the #releasethememo hashtag began trending on Twitter. Democrats were largely silent, however, and legacy news outlets, such as NBC and the Washington Post, claimed the Twitter hashtag was being pushed by Russia. Matthew Gertz of the progressive media watchdog, Media Matters for America, took to Twitter with the claim of Russian influence.
— Far Left Watch (@FarLeftWatch) January 19, 2018
The memo may answer questions on whether the discredited dossier from Fusion GPS, which was financed by the Clinton campaign and the Democratic National Committee, was used by the Obama administration to get FISA warrants used to monitor communications of the Trump team.
According to Marc Ruskin, a former FBI agent and author of “The Pretender: My Life Undercover for the FBI,” we can’t draw conclusions until the memo is released, but the available information suggests something big is in the works.
Ruskin noted that many of the lawmakers who were shown the report are themselves attorneys and are making their statements from the standpoint of understanding legal procedure. He said, “their concerns may reasonably be expected to have to do with how the information was obtained, how the evidence was obtained that was presented to the FISA court.”
The way FISA requests work, he said, is that a federal prosecutor files an application with a supporting affidavit, and this information is presented to a FISA court judge who makes the call. The information, however, can still be held to judicial scrutiny; and wrongdoing in the system can have large implications.
The silence from Democrats may be telling. Based on past examples, Ruskin noted that had the information in the report been obtained properly, there would usually be outcries from both sides, “but when there’s silence or no defense, that doesn’t speak well to the content of what the affidavit is.”
Ruskin also noted that while the memo is currently classified as top secret, “Unless there’s information in the affidavit that would compromise national security, then disclosing its contents would only be a benefit in terms of bringing into public scrutiny whether or not the system has been abused.”
If the memo reveals that the FISA warrants to monitor communications of the Trump team were not justified, it could have a ripple effect across the all investigations into the Trump team—including into that by special counsel Robert Mueller.
“Then is our democratic system of a neutral judiciary undermined if prosecutors obtained FISA warrants based on defective affidavits?” Ruskin said. “Are the prosecutors, in conjunction with senior FBI people, knowingly using defective affidavits to wrongfully obtain FISA warrants?”
In legal terms, Ruskin said this type of evidence is referred to as “fruit of the poisonous tree.” If it’s revealed that the search or surveillance warrants were not justified, all subsequent evidence they produced would then be thrown out.
The next questions would be who signed off on the requests, who approved the requests, who called for the requests, and were there any others tied into the scheme for personal interest?
It’s possible that whoever signed the affidavits could be charged with perjury since they are sworn to by whoever drafts and submits them—meaning, those involved could be charged with perjury. Ruskin noted this could go even further if there is evidence of those involved attempting to prevent or cover up evidence.
“In the past FISA warrants, the integrity of the prosecutors has been taken for granted, so that the system has functioned,” Ruskin said. “But if it’s integrity is called into question, then the whole system gets called into question.”