Democrats Release Memo Refuting Nunes’ Claims on Russia Investigation

WASHINGTON — The House Intelligence Committee’s Democrats released an intelligence memo that refutes GOP claims that the FBI’s investigation of possible collusion between the Trump campaign and Russian interests was politically tainted.

The memo was released on Saturday with redactions from the White House. It was a response to one authored by Rep. Devin Nunes (R-Calif.), the chairman of the Intelligence Committee.

At issue in Nunes’s memo was the process by which the FBI and Justice Department obtained surveillance warrants to monitor Carter Page, a former Trump campaign adviser, starting in October, 2016. The Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act warrants were renewed three times after that, with the approval of a judge.

“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 FISC,” said Rep. Adam Schiff (D-Calif.), the top Democrat on the House Intelligence Committee.

“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.”

The Democratic memo says that the FBI sought a warrant on Page because they had ample reason to believe that he was acting as an agent of a foreign power, pointing out that he had a history with Russian intelligence that stretched back to 2013. It pushes back against claims in the Nunes memo that the FBI relied entirely on a politically motivated dossier authored by Christopher Steele, a former British intelligence officer, in its application to obtain a warrant.

The Department of Justice “cited multiple sources to support the case for surveilling Page — but made only narrow use of information from Steele’s sources about Page’s specific activities in 2016, chiefly his suspected 2016 meetings in Moscow with Russia officials,” the Democrats’ memo stated.

The Steele dossier, as it is known, lays out an array of claims about Trump and his campaign’s contacts with Russia, but it has become a target by Republicans because it was initially prepared by a firm, FusionGPS, that had been retained by a Democratic law firm.

In their memo, the Democrats say that the “political motivation” of those who hired Steele was disclosed by the Justice Department to the FISA court. They say that the FBI never paid Steele for the dossier, but they did authorize him as a source and independently corroborated his information about Page.

The Democrats slammed Nunes for his memo, saying it “draws selectively on highly sensitive information” and contains “other distortions and misrepresentations” that are contradicted by underlying classified documents. Schiff noted that the Republicans and the White House chose to release the Nunes memo over the objections of the FBI, while Democrats released their memo with redactions.

“The document that we are releasing today is the product of a good faith negotiation between the minority and the FBI and DOJ,” Schiff said. “But it is unfortunate that the weekend release of the Democratic memo by the White House was delayed beyond what was necessary and to the advantage of those seeking to mislead the American public.”

The Democrats’ memo also challenges the notion that the FBI launched an investigation because of the Steele dossier. In fact, it was initiated in July, 2016, after the agency received information that the Russians were courting another foreign policy adviser, George Papadopoulos. He is currently cooperating with Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s Russia investigation after pleading guilty to lying to an FBI agent about the nature of his contacts with Russian sources.

“As the [intelligence] Committee learned in testimony and the Special Counsel’s investigative progress bears out, the FBI would have continued its investigation even if it had never received information from Steele, never applied for a FISA warrant against Page or if the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court had rejected the application,” the Democrats said in a summary of their memo.

White House spokeswoman Sarah Huckabee Sanders said in a statement, “While the Democrats’ memorandum attempts to undercut the president politically, the president supported its release in the interest of transparency. Nevertheless, 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.”

The memo is here and here.

Popular on Variety

More Politics

  • Sean Spicer Dancing With the Stars

    Sean Spicer Hopes 'Dancing With the Stars' Gig Will 'Move the Country Forward'

    In the face of a swift backlash, former White House press secretary Sean Spicer said he hoped his role as a contestant on ABC’s “Dancing With the Stars” can help “move the country forward in a positive way.” Spicer told CNN on Thursday that his “DWTS” posting was about entertainment, not politics. ABC revealed Spicer [...]

  • Brazil's President Jair Bolsonaro attends a

    Bolsonaro LGBTQI Outburst, Subsidy Freeze, Stirs Outrage

    Ramping up the drive into censorship in Brazil, its Minister of Citizenship, Omar Terra, has suspended a call for applications for governmental TV funding – until new criteria are established for its application. The country’s secretary for culture, Henrique Pires, who reports to Terra, has resigned in protest of the incentive freeze. The suspension, for [...]

  • Cardi BSwisher Sweets Spark Award, Arrivals,

    Cardi B Talks Police Brutality, Student Debt With Bernie Sanders in Nail Salon

    Rapper Cardi B hosted Senator Bernie Sanders for a video interview at The TEN nail bar in Detroit, an appropriate venue for a musician known to sport some serious claws. Cardi and the 2020 presidential candidate discussed everything from reinstating and expanding the DACA program to fixing student debt by placing a “modest” speculation tax [...]

  • Jeffrey Epstein

    Jeffrey Epstein Autopsy Reportedly Finds Broken Bones in Neck

    Jeffrey Epstein’s autopsy results suggest that the the disgraced multimillionaire sustained multiple breaks in his neck bones, according to The Washington Post. The report says one of the bones broken was the hyoid bone, which is near the Adam’s apple in men. Although hyoid breaks have been known to occur during a hanging, experts told [...]

  • Asap Rocky1 Oak : Gotha Takeover

    A$AP Rocky: A Swedish Take on the Case That Riveted the Country

    With everyone from President Donald Trump to the Rev. Al Sharpton weighing in on rapper A$AP Rocky’s detention in Stockholm after his involvement in a street brawl there, this peculiar saga seemed tailor-made for summer’s silly season. But in Sweden it has also sparked debate about some serious issues – such as the nature of [...]

  • United States Attorney for the Southern

    Jeffrey Epstein Autopsy Results 'Pending Further Information' Following Examination

    Jeffrey Epstein’s autopsy results are “pending further information,” according to a statement from the New York City Medical Examiner’s office. “Today, a medical examiner performed the autopsy of Jeffrey Epstein. The ME’s determination is pending further information at this time,” chief medical examiner Dr. Barbara Sampson said in the statement. Sampson also confirmed the presence [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content