Five Key Takeaways from the Declassified FISA Memo


The long-awaited 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 was released Friday morning. Here are five key takeaways from the recently declassified memo.

The DNC-funded dossier was used to obtain Foreign Intelligence Service Acts warrants.

The FBI used information from the Democrat Party-financed dossier to get three surveillance warrants before the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court.

“Neither the initial application in October 2016, nor any of the renewals, disclose or reference the role of the DNC, Clinton campaign, or any party/campaign in funding Steele’s efforts, even though the political origins of the Steele dossier were then known to senior DOJ and FBI officials,” the memo read.

The dossier was commissioned by Fusion GPS and paid for by the Hillary Clinton Campaign and the Democrat National Committee. Christopher Steele was paid over $160,000 by the DNC and Clinton campaign to obtain information on Trump’s alleged ties to Russia.

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“(The Committee’s) findings…1) raise concerns with the legitimacy and the legality of certain DOJ and FBI interactions with Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court (FISC) without the Steele dossier information.” (FISC), and 2) represents a troubling breakdown of legal processes established to protect the American people from the abuses related to the FISA process,” wrote intelligence committee Chairman Rep. Devin Nunes, who drafted the memo.

The Carter Page FISA application relied heavily on information from the dossier.

In one of the applications, the FBI cited the dossier and a story by Yahoo News as two different sources. However, the Yahoo story derived from the information Steele leaked to them, so they were really both the same source.

“The Page FISA application incorrectly assesses that Steele did not directly provide information to Yahoo News. Steele has admitted in British court filings that he met with Yahoo News — and several other outlets — in September 2016 at the direction of Fusion GPS,” Nunes wrote.

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There would have been no FISA warrants without the dossier. 

Without the dossier, warrants on Carter Page could not have been obtained, according to FBI Director Andrew McCabe’s testimony before the Committee in Dec. 2017.

“According to the head of the FBI’s counterintelligence division, Assistant Director Bill Priestap, corroboration of the Steele dossier was in its ‘infancy’ at the time of the initial Page FISA application,” according to the memo.

Steele lied to the FBI about speaking to the media.

The former spy 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.

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“Steele’s numerous encounters with the media violated the cardinal rule of source handling — maintaining confidentiality — and demonstrated that Steele had become a less than reliable source for the FBI,” the memo read.

Steele wanted to destroy Trump.

Steele was apparently “desperate” that Trump never make it to the White House.

“(I)n September 2016, Steele admitted to (DOJ official Bruce) Ohr his feelings against then-candidate Trump when Steele said he “was desperate that Donald Trump not get elected and was passionate about him not being president,” the memo reads.

“This clear evidence of Steele’s bias was recorded by Ohr at the time and subsequently in official FBI files — but not reflected in any of the Page FISA applications,” it added, referring to Trump campaign adviser Carter Page.

The full text of the memo can be read here.

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Erin Coates was an editor for The Western Journal for over two years before becoming a news writer. A University of Oregon graduate, Erin has conducted research in data journalism and contributed to various publications as a writer and editor.
Erin Coates was an editor for The Western Journal for over two years before becoming a news writer. She grew up in San Diego, California, proceeding to attend the University of Oregon and graduate with honors holding a degree in journalism. During her time in Oregon, Erin was an associate editor for Ethos Magazine and a freelance writer for Eugene Magazine. She has conducted research in data journalism, which has been published in the book “Data Journalism: Past, Present and Future.” Erin is an avid runner with a heart for encouraging young girls and has served as a coach for the organization Girls on the Run. As a writer and editor, Erin strives to promote social dialogue and tell the story of those around her.
Tucson, Arizona
Graduated with Honors
Bachelor of Arts in Journalism, University of Oregon
Books Written
Contributor for Data Journalism: Past, Present and Future
Prescott, Arizona
Languages Spoken
English, French
Topics of Expertise
Politics, Health, Entertainment, Faith