A newly declassified criminal referral authored by two GOP senators seems to validate key claims made in the controversial House Intelligence Committee memo that was made public last week.
The four-page memo, drafted by intelligence committee chairman Rep. Devin Nunes, outlines surveillance abuses by the Obama administration’s intelligence community directed at Donald Trump’s presidential campaign.
Specifically, the memo alleges that the FBI relied heavily on the infamous and unverified Trump-Russia dossier — commissioned by liberal opposition research firm Fusion GPS and paid for by the Hillary Clinton campaign and the Democrat National Committee — to obtain FISA warrants to surveil the Trump team.
In a criminal referral addressed to FBI Director Christopher Wray and Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein, GOP Sens. Chuck Grassley of Iowa and Lindsey Graham of South Carolina seem to back up this bombshell claim.
The FISA surveillance applications, the senators wrote in the letter, “relied heavily on Mr. Steele’s dossier claims.”
The lawmakers were referring to former British spy Christopher Steele, a one-time FBI source who Fusion GPS hired to put together the dossier. The criminal referral — dated Jan 4, 2018 — indicated that Steele’s dossier claims should not have been trusted.
“(I)t appears the FBI relied on admittedly uncorroborated information, funded by and obtained for Secretary Clinton’s presidential campaign, in order to conduct surveillance of an associate of the opposing presidential candidate. It did so based on Mr. Steele’s personal credibility and presumably having faith in his process of obtaining the information,” the referral read.
“But there is substantial evidence suggesting that Mr. Steele materially misled the FBI about a key aspect of his dossier efforts, one which bears on his credibility.”
What’s more, the referral seems to corroborate the memo’s claim that the FBI did not tell the FISA court that the dossier originated as a political opposition research document.
The surveillance application “failed to disclose that the identities of Mr. Simpson’s ultimate clients were the Clinton campaign and the DNC,” the senators wrote.
As noted by Fox News, the criminal referral does shed light on a certain “point of contention,” as Nunes recently said on “Fox & Friends” that the FBI’s surveillance request included a “footnote” admitting that the dossier had political origins.
Grassley and Graham wrote that FBI indeed included a footnote where it “noted to a vaguely limited extent the political origins of the dossier.” However, the lawmakers claimed there was no mention of the Clinton campaign or the DNC.
The referral also alleges that someone connected to Clinton was “feeding” information to Steele as he was compiling the dossier.
GOP Rep. Trey Gowdy of South Carolina implied that this unidentified person may have been longtime Clinton family friend and confidant Sidney Blumenthal.
With controversy raging over the validity of the Nunes memo, Democrats on the intelligence committee have created another memo that rebuts many of Nunes’ claims. The White House must now decide whether or not to make this new memo public.
Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer has publicly encouraged President Donald Trump to release this document.
“The president decided the public deserved to see the Nunes memo before he’d even read it, so he ought to be similarly eager for the American people to see this memo. Given the Schiff memo is based on the same underlying documents as the Republican’s partisan memo, there should be no question as to whether or not the president will approve the new memo’s release,” Schumer said in a statement.
“If he refuses, the American people will be forced to wonder: what is the president trying to hide?”
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