The House Intelligence Committee released a Democratic memo on Saturday, Feb. 24, composed as a rebuttal to a Republican memo detailing abuses of government surveillance against the Trump campaign.
The rebuttal’s core theme is that the FBI and the Justice Department “did not abuse the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) process, omit material information, or subvert this vital tool to spy on the Trump campaign,” the memo states.
The Democratic memo was approved for release earlier this month by the House Intelligence Committee but did not receive White House authorization because it contained sensitive information that needed to be redacted before the memo was made public. The FBI and DOJ claimed that, if not redacted, the document would reveal the government’s sources and methods, ongoing investigations, and other sensitive information.
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Despite backing the actions of the FBI and the DOJ, the Democratic memo fails to address the most troubling revelations from the GOP document, which showed that top officials at the two agencies knowingly used an unverified dossier to apply for a spy warrant, withheld the political origins of the dossier from the FISA judge, and wouldn’t have applied for a warrant without the dossier.
The Democrats instead argue that “in fact, DOJ and the FBI would have been remiss in their duty to protect the country had they not sought a FISA warrant and repeated renewals to conduct temporary surveillance of Carter Page, someone the FBI assessed to be an agent of the Russian government,” the memo says, adding that the officials met the “rigor, transparency, and evidentiary basis” needed to meet the surveillance court’s probable cause requirement.
Rep. Adam Schiff (D-Calif) said in a statement that the rebuttal should put to rest any concerns about wrongdoing by the intelligence agencies.
“Our extensive review of the initial FISA application and three subsequent renewals failed to uncover any evidence of illegal, unethical, or unprofessional behavior by law enforcement and instead revealed that both the FBI and DOJ made extensive showings to justify all four requests,” Schiff said in a statement, according to Fox News.
The dossier in question was created by British ex-spy Christopher Steele and paid for by Hillary Clinton and the DNC. Fusion GPS was the firm that hired Steele to write the dossier, while Steele wrote the document. The GOP memo also revealed that Steele was biased against Trump and did not want him to win the election.
The White House called the Democratic memo a “politically driven document” that didn’t answer the troubling issues raised in the GOP memo.
“As the Majority’s memorandum stated, the FISA judge was never informed that Hillary Clinton and the DNC funded the dossier that was a basis for the Department of Justice’s FISA application,” White House Press Secretary Sarah Sanders said in a statement.
“In addition, the Minority’s memo fails to even address the fact that the Deputy FBI Director told the Committee that had it not been for the dossier, no surveillance order would have been sought,” she added.
A Republican source who spoke to Fox News also dismissed the rebuttal, saying that the Democrats “want the public to look at the trees, and not the forest, the big picture that DOJ and Justice relied heavily on the dossier to surveil an American citizen, and withheld from the court that the research was funded by the DNC and Clinton campaign.”