On Friday, the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence released the four-page memo drafted by chairman Rep. Devin Nunes, which outlines surveillance abuses by the Obama administration’s intelligence community directed at Donald Trump’s campaign and his associates during the 2016 race and the transition.
The release came after Trump and his White House legal team reviewed the document, as required by law, and offered no objections to the document being declassified.
The memo includes information about what role the infamous “Trump dossier” — commissioned by Fusion GPS and paid for by the Hillary Clinton campaign and the Democrat National Committee — played in the FBI obtaining FISA warrants to surveil the Trump team.
Nunes wrote, “(The Committee’s) findings, which are detailed below, 1) raise concerns with the legitimacy and the legality of certain DOJ and FBI interactions with the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court (FISC), and 2) represents a troubling breakdown of legal processes established to protect the American people from the abuses related to the FISA process.”
“The memo shows that after former British spy Christopher Steele (who wrote the dossier) was cut off from the FBI, he continued to pass information, as did Fusion GPS, through Justice Department Official Bruce Ohr’s wife Nellie, who began working for Fusion GPS as early as May 2016,” Fox News reported.
According to the memo, Steele “was suspended and then terminated as an FBI source for what the FBI defines as the most serious of violations–an authorized disclosure to the media of his relationship with the FBI.”
The former spy had personal animus toward Trump, the Nunes memo states, and met with numerous media outlets, apparently using his connection with the FBI to bolster the credibility of his accusations against the Republican candidate. Steele’s suspension as an FBI source occurred following an interview he gave to liberal media outlet Mother Jones on Oct. 30, 2016, as the presidential race drew to a close.
The FBI opposed the memo’s release this week stating, “We have grave concerns about material omissions of fact that fundamentally impact the memo’s accuracy.”
Trump tweeted on Friday in advance of the document’s release, “The top Leadership and Investigators of the FBI and the Justice Department have politicized the sacred investigative process in favor of Democrats and against Republicans – something which would have been unthinkable just a short time ago. Rank & File are great people!”
In a second tweet, he quoted Judicial Watch President Tom Fitton, whose organization investigated the Hillary Clinton campaign and the Democratic Party’s funding of the dossier.
“’You had Hillary Clinton and the Democratic Party try to hide the fact that they gave money to GPS Fusion to create a Dossier which was used by their allies in the Obama Administration to convince a Court misleadingly, by all accounts, to spy on the Trump Team.’ Tom Fitton, JW.”
The Wall Street Journal‘s Kimberly Strassel, who has been reporting extensively on the Nunes memo, questioned what the FISA court judge will do now that the dossier has been shown to be a document commissioned by the Clinton the DNC for political purposes.
The reporter also noted the multiple tactics the Democrat lawmakers, like House Intelligence Committee ranking member Rep. Adam Schiff of California, employed to try to keep the memo from the public.
House Speaker Paul Ryan spoke out repeatedly in favor of the memo’s release, saying it is the best “disinfectant” so any problems with the FBI and the Department of Justice can be addressed.
“I think we should disclose all this stuff,” he told reporters on Tuesday. “I think sources and methods we’ve gotta protect, no two ways about it for sure, 100 percent,” he said. “But I think disclosure is the way to go. It’s the best disinfectant. And I think we need to disclose, that brings us accountability, that brings us transparency, that helps us clean up any problem we have with (the Justice Department) and FBI.”
In a statement released on Wednesday, Nunes said, “Having stonewalled Congress’ demands for information for nearly a year, it’s no surprise to see the FBI and DOJ issue spurious objections to allowing the American people to see information related to surveillance abuses at these agencies.”
He added, “It’s clear that top officials used unverified information in a court document to fuel a counter-intelligence investigation during an American political campaign. Once the truth gets out, we can begin taking steps to ensure our intelligence agencies and courts are never misused like this again.”
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