Trump calls democrats' memo release "really fraudulent"

Remigio Civitarese
Febbraio 25, 2018

The U.S. House Intelligence Committee on Saturday released a classified Democratic memo that counters GOP claims that the FBI abused government surveillance powers in its Russian Federation investigation.

The dueling accounts reflected an extraordinary struggle on the committee to try to shape public perceptions of the credibility of the nation's top law enforcement agencies.

"This is clearly an attempt to avoid informing the Court, in a straightforward manner that the DNC and Clinton campaign paid for the dossier", the Republican rebuttal argues.

"Wouldn't it have been a lot easier just to say, 'Hey, Mr. Judge, we want to let you know that the Hillary Clinton campaign and the Democratic Party paid a lawyer who hired a firm who hired a foreign agent to go to the Russians and get dirt on Mr. Trump", the congressman argued. But congressional Democrats and Republicans, including House Speaker Paul Ryan and Rep. Trey Gowdy of SC, who helped draft the GOP memo, have said it shouldn't be used to undermine the special counsel.

This memo by Democratic members of the House's intelligence Committee was drafted in January in response to a memo put together and released by House Republicans led by Committee Chairman Devin Nunes (R-Calif.).

The Democratic memo said that the information in the dossier was a small part of the case which the Department of Justice (DOJ) and Federal Bureau of Investigation officials laid out in requesting for the court's permission to spy on Page and in seeking renewals.

The Democrats' memorandum was released on Saturday as a response to the memorandum on surveillance abuses released by the Republicans in early February. Each approved of the request.

But on Saturday, Nunes accused Democrats of colluding with the government in a "coverup".

The Republicans contend that the notorious "Steele dossier" was key in obtaining Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) court approval for the surveillance of Page. The document once again offers specific examples, which were redacted by the Justice Department.

How important was the dossier to the application for a warrant? The New York Times has filed a motion asking the surveillance court to take the unusual step of unsealing it.

Page was on the FBI's radar as far back as 2013, years before he ever became involved in the Trump campaign. His relationship with the bureau later was terminated after he disclosed some of his material to several USA news organizations.The memos have become the battleground for an extraordinary confrontation between Trump and the top officials he appointed to lead the FBI and Justice Department.

"Now that the public has a clearer understanding of the early phases of the investigation, it is time for our committee to return to the core investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 campaign, the role USA persons played in that interference and what we need to do to protect the country going forward", Schiff's release concluded.

The document also rebuts claims by Republicans, including Trump, that the FBI relied on Steele's findings to open its counterintelligence investigation in late July 2016. They say the GOP memo is designed as a distraction from the probe, which is looking into whether Trump's campaign was in any way connected to the Russian interference.

Notably, the Democratic memo also said that in subsequent renewals of the wiretap application, the Justice Department "provided additional information obtained through multiple independent sources that corroborated Steele's reporting".

Some Republican leaders were careful to say the Republican allegations were not aimed at undermining the Mueller investigation.

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