House Intelligence Committee Releases Full Memo Alleging Serious Breaches By FBI In Russian Investigation

HouseofRepSealI will be discussing the memo today in a column in the Hill as well as in the segment with Tucker Carlson.   I fail to see the “grave” classified information that would put the national security at risk.  Indeed, my column addresses the disconnect between the objections made by the FBI and Democratic members and the actual memo. The use of classification laws to prevent disclosure of embarrassing information is itself an abuse of federal law and standards.

The Republicans may have undermined their case by building up this memo as a smoking gun document. Portrayals seems to make this memo the virtual combination of the Pentagon Papers and the Zimmerman telegram. After all of the build up, anything short of a depiction of Hillary Clinton forcing a judge to sign a secret warrant at gunpoint would disappoint most readers. However, there is plenty in this memo that should deeply concern people.

Civil libertarians have complained for years about the tactical use of classification authority by the federal agencies.  This seems a rare and important example of that problem. As to the specific factual representations, they raise clearly troubling questions that need to be addressed on the failure to disclosure information to the FISA court and the alleged heavy reliance on this dossier.

Below is the full memo:

 

THE WHITE HOUSE
WASHINGTON
February 2, 2018

The Honorable Devin Nunes
Chairman, House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence
United States Capitol
Washington, DC 20515

Dear Mr. Chairman:

On January 29, 2018, the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence (hereinafter “the Committee”) voted to disclose publicly a memorandum containing classified information provided to the Committee in connection with its oversight activities (the “Memorandum,” which is attached to this letter). As provided by clause 11(g) of Rule of the House of Representatives, the Committee has forwarded this Memorandum to the President based on its determination that the release of the Memorandum would serve the public interest.

The Constitution vests the President with the authority to protect national security secrets from it disclosure. As the Supreme Court has recognized, it is the President’s responsibility to classify, declassify, and control access to information bearing on our intelligence sources and methods and national defense. See, Dep of Navy v. Egan, 484 US. 518, 527 (1988). In order to facilitate appropriate congressional oversight, the Executive Branch may entrust classified information to the appropriate committees of Congress, as it has done in connection with the Committee’s oversight activities here. The Executive Branch does so on the assumption that the Committee will responsibly protect such classified information, consistent with the laws of the United States.

The Committee has now determined that the release of the Memorandum would be appropriate. The Executive Branch, across Administrations of both parties, has worked to accommodate congressional requests to declassify specific materials in the public interest. However, public release of classified information by unilateral action of the Legislative Branch is extremely rare and raises significant separation of powers concerns. Accordingly, the Committee’s request to release the Memorandum is interpreted as a request for declassification pursuant to the President’s authority.

The President understands that the protection of our national security represents his highest obligation. Accordingly, he has directed lawyers and national security staff to assess the declassification request, consistent with established standards governing the handling of classified information, including those under Section 3.1(d) of Executive Order 13526. Those standards permit declassification when the public interest in disclosure outweighs any need to protect the information. The White House review process also included input from the Office of the Director of National Intelligence and the Department of Justice. Consistent with this review and these standards, the President has determined that declassification of the Memorandum is appropriate.

Based on this assessment and in light of the significant public interest in the memorandum, the President has authorized the declassification of the Memorandum. To be clear, the Memorandum reflects the judgments of its congressional authors. The President understands that oversight concerning matters related to the Memorandum may be continuing. Though the circumstances leading to the declassification through this process are extraordinary, the Executive Branch stands ready to work with Congress to accommodate oversight requests consistent with applicable standards and processes, including the need to protect intelligence sources and methods.

Sincerely,
Donald F. McGahn II
Counsel to the President

cc: The Honorable Paul Ryan
Speaker of the House of Representatives

The Honorable Adam Schiff
Ranking Member, House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence


Declassified by order of the President
February 2, 2018

January 18, 2018

To: HPSCI Majority Members
From: HPSCI Majority Staff
Subject: Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act Abuses at the Department of Justice and the Federal Bureau of Investigation

Purpose

This memorandum provides Members an update on significant facts relating to the Committee’s ongoing investigation into the Department of Justice (DOJ) and Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) and their use of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) during the 2016 presidential election cycle. Our findings, which are detailed below, 1) raise concerns with the legitimacy and legality of certain DOJ and FBI interactions with the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court (FISC), and 2) represent a troubling breakdown of legal processes established to protect the American people from abuses related to the FISA process.

Investigation Update

On October 21, 2016, DOJ and FBI sought and received a FISA probable cause order (notunder Title VII) authorizing electronic surveillance on Carter Page from the FISC. Page is a US citizen who served as a volunteer advisor to the Trump presidential campaign. Consistent with requirements under FISA, the application had to be first certified by the Director or Deputy Director of the FBI. It then required the approval of the Attorney General, Deputy Attorney General (DAG), or the Senate-confirmed Assistant Attorney General for the National Security Division.

The FBI and DOJ obtained one initial FISA warrant targeting Carter Page and three FISA renewals from the FISC. As required by statute (50 U.S.C. 1805(d)(1)), a FISA order on an American citizen must be renewed by the ISC every 90 days and each renewal requires a separate finding of probable cause. Then-Director James Comey signed three FISA applications in question on behalf of the FBI, and Deputy Director Andrew McCabe signed one. Sally Yates, then-Acting DAG Dana Boente, and DAG Rod Rosenstein each signed one or more FISA applications on behalf of DOJ.

Due to the sensitive nature of foreign intelligence activity, FISA submissions (including renewals) before the ISC are classified. As such, the public’s confidence in the integrity of the FISA process depends on the court’s ability to hold the government to the highest standard — particularly as it relates to surveillance of American citizens. However, the rigor in protecting the rights of Americans, which is reinforced by 90-day renewals of surveillance orders, is necessarily dependent on the government’s production to the court of all material and relevant facts. This should include information potentially favorable to the target of the FISA application that is known by the government. In the case of Carter Page, the government had at least four independent opportunities before the FISC to accurately provide an accounting of the relevant facts. However, our findings indicate that, as described below, material and relevant information was omitted.

1) The “dossier” compiled by Christopher Steele (Steele dossier) on behalf of the Democratic National Committee (DNC) and the Hillary Clinton campaign formed an essential part of the Carter Page FISA application. Steele was a longtime FBI source who was paid over $160,000 by the DNC and Clinton campaign, via the law firm Perkins Coie and research firm Fusion GPS, to obtain derogatory information on Donald Trump’s ties to Russia.

a) 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 and FBI officials.

b) The initial FISA application notes Steele was working for a named U.S. person, but does not name Fusion GPS and principal Glenn Simpson, who was paid by a U.S. Law firm (Perkins Coie) representing the DNC (even though it was known by DOJ at the time that political actors were involved with the Steele dossier). The application does not mention Steele was ultimately working on behalf of — and paid by — the DNC and Clinton campaign, or that the FBI had separately authorized payment to Steele for the same information.

2) The Carter Page FISA application also cited extensively a September 23, 2016, Yahoo Newsarticle by Michael Isikoff, which focuses on Page’s July 2016 trip to Moscow. This article does not corroborate the Steele dossier because it is derived from information leaked by Steele himself to Yahoo NewsThe 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. Perkins Coie was aware of Steele’s initial media contacts because they hosted at least one meeting in Washington DC. in 2016 with Steele and Fusion GPS where this matter was discussed.”

a) Steele was suspended and then terminated as an FBI source for what the FBI defines as the most serious of violations — an unauthorized disclosure to the media of his relationship with the FBI in an October 30, 2016, Mother Jonesarticle by David Corn. Steele should have been terminated for his previous undisclosed contacts with Yahoo and other outlets in September — before the Page application was submitted to the FISC in October — but Steele improperly concealed from and lied to the FBI about those contacts.

b) 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.

3) Before and after Steele was terminated as a source, he maintained contact with DOJ via then-Associate Deputy Attorney General Bruce Ohr, a senior DOJ official who worked closely with Deputy Attorneys General Yates and later Rosenstein. Shortly after the election, the FBI began interviewing Ohr, documenting his communications with Steele. For example, in September 2016, Steele admitted to 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.” 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.

a) During this same time period, Ohr’s wife was employed by Fusion GPS to assist in the cultivation of opposition research on Trump. Ohr later provided the FBI with all of his wife’s opposition research, paid for by the DNC and Clinton campaign via Fusion GPS. The Ohrs’ relationship with Steele and Fusion GPS was inexplicably concealed from the FISC.

4) According to the head of the counterintelligence division, Assistant Director Bill Priestap, corroboration of the Steele dossier was in its “infancy” at the time of the initial Page FISA application. After Steele was terminated, a source validation report conducted by an independent unit within FBI assessed Steele’s reporting as only minimally corroborated. Yet, in early January 2017, Director Comey briefed President-elect Trump on a summary of the Steele dossier, even though it was — according to his June 2017 testimony – “salacious and unverified.” While the FISA application relied on Steele’s past record of credible reporting on other unrelated matters, it ignored or concealed his
anti-Trump financial and ideological motivations. Furthermore, Deputy Director McCabe testified before the Committee in December 2017 that no surveillance warrant would have been sought from the FISC without the Steele dossier information.

5) The Page FISA application also mentions information regarding fellow Trump campaign advisor George Papadopoulos, but there is no evidence of any cooperation or conspiracy between Page and Papadopoulos. The Papadopoulos information triggered the opening of an FBI counterintelligence investigation in late July 2016 by FBI agent Pete Strzok. Strzok was reassigned by the Special Counsel’s Office to FBI Human Resources for improper text messages with his mistress, FBI Attorney Lisa Page (no known relation to Carter Page), where they both demonstrated a clear bias against Trump and in favor of Clinton, Whom Strzok had also investigated. The Strzok/Lisa Page texts also reflect extensive discussions about the investigation, orchestrating leaks to the media, and include a meeting with Deputy Director McCabe to discuss an “insurance” policy against President Trump’s election.

338 thoughts on “House Intelligence Committee Releases Full Memo Alleging Serious Breaches By FBI In Russian Investigation

  1. @RepThomasMassie

    My question: who made the decision to withhold evidence of FISA abuse until after Congress voted to renew FISA program?

  2. For solid evidence that Trump tells the truth while the mainstream media Presstitutes and Comey are baldfaced lairs, see this “blast from the past” wherein the Deep State, Comey, and Crappy News Network LIED about Trump wiretapped:

  3. Nothing burger?
    The issue – that no one has denied/refuted – is that the FBI brought what it knew was political opposition research – not intelligence – to the FISA judge, did not disclose all information to that judge and obtained a warrant to spy on an American citizen out of pure politics – not intelligence. This is not Watergate – this is police state.

    • In this case many of those referring to this as a nothing burger are those who have the belief that such illegal actions are appropriate when it involves a benefit to their political leanings or a detriment to their opponents. But such things are only obvious to those other than themselves.

      • I will add that corruption will never be vanquished as long as enablers such as these cannot summon the moral fortitude and holistic understanding to combat this scourge regardless of who crosses the line.

        • Agreed – and fwiw, even in my own little sphere, I will strive to do as you say –

          Thanks for the wisdom,
          and have a great night!

  4. Sometimes I wonder if Congress could create a secret police service they would. The debate over such a legislation would be who would command it, not its constitutionality.

    One of these days the DNC will be charged with violating the Hobbs Act or the RICO statutes–yet we can only imagine such an outcome since the corruption involves those who lead the organization charged with the investigation.

  5. Assange tweeted

    ⌛‏ @JulianAssange

    Very interesting to see @SeanHannity, on memo-gate. Although the issue is almost entirely partisan and the re-authorization of mass surveillance by Congress makes both of the major parties proven hypocrites, the intense scrutiny of FISA & DoJ is beautiful.

  6. Lefties, try and prove me wrong about my contention that you are morally depraved hypocrites.

    First, here is the proper legal conclusion to be reached from the evidence. The DOJ’s and the FBI’s violations of 18 U.S. Code § 242 – Deprivation of rights under color of law US Code, in obtaining the FISA warrant on Carter Page were based on false and misleading information, either with knowledge, deliberate intent, or willful recklessness.

    Here’s the proof of Leftist depravity.

    Step One: Leftists claim that the fact that DOJ and FBI officials favored Clinton and did what they did to obtain the FISA warrant was a “nothing burger” and a “big yawn.”

    Can we all agree on Step One? If not, go back and read or see stories on CNN, MSNBC, Huffington Post, or any other of your favorite Leftist drivel to verify that Step One is true.

    Step Two: Now, assume that all of the facts had occurred exactly as they did, but with two important exceptions. One, assume that the “dossier” was bought and paid for by the Republican Party (rather than the Democratic Party) and was about Hillary Clinton (instead of Donald Trump). Two, also assume that the DOJ and FBI officials involved were actually Trump supporters (instead of Clinton supporters) and obtained the FISA warrant to conduct surveillance of an individual closely connected to the Clinton campaign (instead of Carter Page), based on the anti-Clinton “dossier.”

    Step Three: Assume that all of the above suddenly becomes public knowledge because the Democrats (rather than the Republicans) have prepared a memo describing these new facts, that implicitly accuse Donald Trump and his team of rigging the election in his favor with the help of pro-Trump officials in the DOJ and the FBI.

    Now, given all of these assumption, would Leftists be arguing that the Democrats’ memo was a “nothing burger” and a “big yawn?” Or would the Leftists and the mainstream media be calling this situation “worse than Watergate” and be demanding Trump’s immediate removal from office and for the officials at the DOJ and FBI to be serving jail time for their violations of laws?

    Can you answer honestly to yourselves for the first time in your lives? If you can, you know the answer. And you know I’m right.

  7. “…so far, Page has not been accused of or charged with anything in special counsel Robert Mueller’s probe.”

    – Vox
    ________________________________________________________________________________

    The FBI found “probable cause” against Carter Page in 2013? He was approached by what appeared to him to be Russian businessmen. They were Russian covert agents who were later convicted on charges unrelated to Carter Page.

    The FBI and Russian intel have “used” Carter Page.

    Carter Page is nothing but a useful idiot…

    used by Obama and the FBI to “wiretap” Trump

    as McCabe/Strzok/Page’s “insurance policy”.

    • Who the heck is “Brett Stephens?” Never heard of him. Next you’ll tell me that even Nancy Pelosi’s plastic surgeon’s wife agrees that the FISA Memo is a “nothing burger.”

      • Bret Stephens was an editorialist for the WSJ mostly on foreign affairs. You could frequently see him on the panel of the WSJ TV show (quite good). He was a never Trumper and left the WSJ for the NYTimes. His first column tilted leftward and shouldn’t have caused much of a stir, but some of the NYTimes readership became outraged that he wasn’t leftist enough. I think he moved in a direction to satisfy that readership, but I no longer follow him closely.

  8. “On March 7th, 2016 The Gateway Pundit reported – Only 1 in 10,000 FISA Requests Was Denied in 6 Years — Obama’s First Request to Wiretap Trump Denied in 2016.

    We now know that the FISA requests to spy on Carter Page were based on the discredited and bogus fake Trump dossier created by Fusion GPS and that the dossier’s origin was not reported to the court.

    We also know that all of these requests were signed off on by the Obama Administration’s Attorney General Loretta Lynch and that the first request to spy on Trump was denied by the FISA Court.”

  9. “The Nunes-Ryan Civil Liberties Sham”

    by Marcy Wheeler (of emptywheel)

    https://www.huffingtonpost.com/entry/opinion-wheeler-memo-privacy_us_5a74b4a5e4b01ce33eb2906f

    “Every single privacy activist I know cares about privacy in significant part to ensure the rule of law and to prevent the arbitrary exercise of justice to focus just on select groups like Muslims or Chinese-Americans, rather than those who pose the greatest risk to society, like people allegedly doing Russia’s secret bidding. Yet the actions of Ryan and Nunes reverse that, using a sham concern for civil liberties as a way to prevent themselves, their associates, and the president from being subject to the rule of law like the rest of us would be.

    “If we’re going to have this secret surveillance ― and Nunes and Ryan insist we need it ― the key to protecting Americans is drafting the law to provide protections and ensuring those standards are met. Section 702, as Nunes and Ryan reauthorized it, fails that test, because it permits the warrantless access of completely innocent Americans’ communications. And for all its bluster, the Nunes memo doesn’t tell us critical details we need to assess whether what happened to Page was improper specifically, or simply indicative of known concerns about outside consultants that Nunes and Ryan have long ignored (and continue to ignore with all other Americans). By all means let’s examine the role of consultants in FBI investigations. By all means let’s scrutinize whether the FISA process works as well as the DOJ claims.

    “But let’s do that for all Americans, and not just those about whom the FBI has real reason to worry.”

    • “Limits to warrantless surveillance only apply when it’s one of their own being targeted.” -Marcy Wheeler

      “Thomas Drake
      @Thomas_Drake1

      Must read @emptywheel on Nunes-Ryan shuffle sham flimflam exposing hypocrisy of The Memo & warranted threats while trading off privacy & 4th Amend. for suspicionless secret collection & warrantless surveillance under new FISA/702 Act. #MemoDeflateGateDay m.huffpost.com/us/entry/us_5a…

      10:52 AM – 3 Feb 2018

      Opinion | The Nunes-Ryan Civil Liberties Sham

      Limits to warrantless surveillance only apply when it’s one of their own being targeted.”

      https://mobile.twitter.com/Thomas_Drake1/status/959862054705356800

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