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Democratic intelligence memo released with redactions

The House Intelligence Committee on Saturday released a Democratic memo in redacted form that seeks to undercut Repub...

Posted: Feb 25, 2018 4:45 PM
Updated: Feb 25, 2018 4:45 PM

The House Intelligence Committee on Saturday released a Democratic memo in redacted form that seeks to undercut Republican claims of FBI surveillance abuses.

The committee made the Democratic memo public after the White House signed off following negotiations between the FBI and the committee's top Democrat, Rep. Adam Schiff of California, over what in the document should be redacted.

Earlier this month, the White House objected to releasing the memo, saying that sensitive material had to be removed first.

Schiff's memo was written to rebut a Republican memo that accuses the FBI of suppressing Democratic ties to an opposition research dossier on then-candidate Donald Trump and Russia used in the FISA warrant for former Trump campaign foreign policy adviser Carter Page.

The memo defended both the FBI and Justice Department's role in obtaining the FISA warrant - agencies that have been under fire from Republican critics who have also sought to discredit special counsel Robert Mueller's investigation.

"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," Schiff said in a statement. "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 White House said in a statement that nothing in the Democratic memo counters Trump's statements that neither he nor his campaign colluded with Russia.

"While the Democrats' memorandum attempts to undercut the President politically, the President supported its release in the interest of transparency," the statement read. "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."

Schiff and other Democrats charge that the Republican memo led by House Intelligence Chairman Devin Nunes of California is misleading and omits key facts, including that the FISA application did state that ex-British intelligence agent Christopher Steele, the author of the dossier, was paid by a political entity. FBI Director Christopher Wray also expressed concerns about the Nunes memo, publicly warning the White House that omitted information could impact the memo's veracity.

Speaking Saturday afternoon at the Conservative Political Action Conference, Nunes said that he wanted the Democratic memo released "because we think it is clear evidence that the Democrats are not only trying to cover this up, but they're also colluding with parts of the government to help cover this up.

"So what you basically will read in the Democratic memo is that they are advocating that it's okay for the FBI and DOJ to use political dirt paid for by one campaign and use it against the other campaign," Nunes said.

In a written statement, Nunes added that "the FISA court was misled about Mr. Page's past interactions with the FBI in which he helped build a case against Russian operatives in America who were brought to justice. It defies belief that the Department of Justice and FBI failed to provide information to a secret court that they had provided to an open federal court regarding their past interactions with Mr. Page."

Main arguments

Two of the key arguments in Schiff's memo are that the FBI's request for a FISA warrant on Page was proper, and that the political motivations behind Steele's research were sufficiently disclosed.

The Schiff memo cites the FBI's previous interest in Page, including a March 2016 interview with him about his contact with Russian intelligence.

"The FBI's concern about and knowledge of Page's activities therefore long predate the FBI's receipt of Steele's information," the memo states.

The memo also argues that Steele, who authored the dossier on Trump and Russia, played no role in the FBI's launching of the counterintelligence investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 election, which occurred on July 31, 2016.

"Steele's reporting did not reach the counterintelligence team investigating Russia at FBI headquarters until mid-September 2016, more than seven weeks after the FBI opened its investigation, because the probe's existence was so closely held within the FBI," the memo states.

By September 2016, the memo says, the FBI had already opened "sub-inquiries" into a number of Trump campaign associates beyond Page, although the number is redacted.

In the three subsequent FISA renewals, the Justice Department provided information "obtained through multiple independent sources" that corroborated parts of what Steele reported about Page, the memo states, though many details of that section are redacted.

Steele's role debated

The memo states that Steele's role was properly disclosed in the October 2016 FISA application, including his political motivations. The Republican memo argues that the FISA application failed to note that Hillary Clinton's campaign and the Democratic National Committee were indirectly paying for Steele's research.

The Schiff memo cites the FISA application's note that Steele's research appeared intended for use "to discredit" Trump's campaign, and argues that the Justice Department appropriately did not "unmask" US officials in the FISA application.

The memo notes that when the FISA application was first filed, Steele was not told by Fusion GPS co-founder Glenn Simpson that Clinton's campaign and the DNC were paying Fusion GPS for his research.

"The identified US person (Simpson) never advised source #1 (Steele) as to the motivation behind the research into candidate #1's ties to Russia," the FISA application states, according to Schiff's memo. "The FBI speculates that the identified US person was likely looking for information that could be used to discredit candidate #1's campaign."

The Republican staff of the House Intelligence Committee issued a rebuttal to Schiff's memo, arguing the FBI appeared to be avoiding informing the court about Steele's connections to Clinton and the DNC - and they charged the Schiff memo also failed to note Steele's connections to Democrats.

"As clearly stated in the GOP memo, none of the Page FISA applications 'disclose or reference the role of the DNC, Clinton campaign, or any party/campaign in funding Steele's efforts,'" the Republican document states. "Instead, the FISA application relies on a convoluted statement buried in a footnote. This is clearly an attempt to avoid informing the Court, in a straightforward manner that the DNC and Clinton campaign paid for the dossier."

Partisan feuding over memos

The release of the Schiff memo caps an unprecedented and tumultuous period for the committee, which has now voted to release two classified documents using an obscure committee rule that had never been invoked previously in the panel's history.

The committee's Republicans first voted to release the Republican memo last month, without the Democratic rebuttal document, before later agreeing to release the Democratic memo, too.

Trump indicated he wanted the Republican memo out - over the objections of the FBI and Justice Department. The committee rule puts the decision to object to releasing the classified material in the hands of the President, and he declassified the Republican document without changes.

But the White House objected to releasing the Democratic memo, citing the concerns about releasing sensitive information, and called for redactions before it could be made public.

That set off a period of negotiations between the Democratic committee staff and the FBI.

Schiff had warned he was concerned the White House would make "political redactions," but a senior Democratic committee official said that the redacted document released Saturday "came back clean" from Justice Department and the FBI.

Mississippi Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Cases: 255125

Reported Deaths: 5574
CountyCasesDeaths
DeSoto17197175
Hinds16280322
Harrison13502193
Rankin10749211
Jackson10407183
Lee8819141
Madison8262162
Jones6375110
Forrest5992119
Lauderdale5873180
Lowndes5381116
Lafayette496692
Lamar487565
Washington4800123
Bolivar3978108
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Panola370779
Pontotoc365353
Monroe3543105
Warren353498
Union344760
Marshall342665
Neshoba3383152
Pearl River329799
Leflore3004105
Lincoln297685
Sunflower284969
Hancock273459
Tate272462
Alcorn264053
Pike263577
Itawamba262959
Scott246645
Yazoo245955
Prentiss245652
Copiah241949
Tippah241750
Simpson235767
Coahoma233754
Leake231164
Grenada218470
Covington213071
Marion212072
Adams205870
Wayne201331
Winston200564
George199338
Attala193759
Newton192842
Tishomingo186359
Chickasaw183944
Jasper170835
Holmes168767
Clay159433
Stone143621
Tallahatchie141034
Clarke138960
Calhoun136121
Smith120823
Yalobusha117034
Walthall112336
Noxubee110522
Greene110229
Montgomery109634
Carroll104521
Lawrence102617
Perry102231
Amite98025
Webster92424
Tunica86721
Claiborne86625
Jefferson Davis84825
Humphreys83024
Benton81823
Kemper77220
Quitman6918
Franklin66615
Choctaw60513
Wilkinson58425
Jefferson54319
Sharkey43017
Issaquena1596
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Alabama Coronavirus Cases

Cases: 424028

Reported Deaths: 6121
CountyCasesDeaths
Jefferson62258921
Mobile30381549
Madison27160186
Tuscaloosa20779267
Montgomery19049305
Shelby18572114
Baldwin16346182
Lee12515101
Morgan12260113
Etowah11757168
Calhoun11161200
Marshall10199107
Houston8630148
Cullman8036105
Limestone802874
Elmore7849101
DeKalb768897
Lauderdale760083
St. Clair7555120
Talladega6180108
Walker5903174
Jackson581341
Colbert533573
Blount530883
Autauga519855
Coffee443956
Dale398581
Franklin367548
Chilton337665
Russell331710
Covington327768
Escambia319342
Dallas303396
Chambers284269
Clarke282133
Tallapoosa2617107
Pike249429
Marion246250
Lawrence244247
Winston227335
Bibb216247
Geneva202535
Marengo199729
Pickens197031
Hale176442
Barbour173036
Butler170258
Fayette169026
Cherokee160530
Henry154421
Monroe145617
Randolph140735
Washington137726
Clay126745
Crenshaw119544
Lamar118219
Cleburne117723
Macon115035
Lowndes110735
Wilcox103121
Bullock99128
Perry97719
Conecuh94420
Sumter89126
Greene76123
Coosa60515
Choctaw51524
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