FISA Memo Released: Here’s What It Says
Just before noon on Friday, the “FISA” memo compiled by House Intelligence Committee staff, led by chairman Devin Nunes (R-Calif.), from classified documents provided by the Department of Justice, was officially declassified by Trump’s lawyer Donald Gahn – over the objections of the DOJ and the FBI – as explained in the letter below.
According to the Washington Examiner’s Byron York who had access to an early released version, a key point in the memo is that the salacious and still unproven Steele dossier formed the essential part of the initial and all three renewal applications against Carter Page, in line with what as previously leaked.
As York also explicitly highlights, “The FBI’s Andrew McCabe confirmed to the committee that no FISA warrant would have been sought from the FISA Court without the Steele dossier information.”
This, as Fox News confirms, means that absent the dossier, at least one of the surveillance warrants in the case would not have been obtained, and – by implication – the entire Mueller probe is thus on shaky legal ground.
Back to the memo, which as York adds, “the political origins of the Steele dossier were known to senior DOJ and FBI officials, but excluded from the FISA applications.”
More House Intel memo key point: The political origins of the Steele dossier were known to senior DOJ and FBI officials, but excluded from the FISA applications. https://t.co/jzSl1tzhfc
— Byron York (@ByronYork) February 2, 2018
As Dow Jones confirms, DOJ officials knew Steele was being paid by democrats, and that officials at the DOJ and FBI signed one warrant, and three renewals against Carter Page.
York also notes that DOJ official Bruce Ohr was relayed information about Christopher Steele’s bias. Steele told Ohr that he, Steele, was desperate that Donald Trump not get elected president and was passionate about him not becoming president.
All else equal, sounds like a clear case of bias, and when extended, it would imply that the entire Mueller probe is base on grounds that could be overturned in court.
To recap, here are the key points disclosed in the memo, as summarized by the Washington Exmainer which has an early unclassified version of the memo:
- The Steele dossier formed an essential part of the intial and all three renewal FISA applications against Carter Page.
- Andrew McCabe confirmed that no FISA warrant would have been sought from the FISA Court without the Steele dossier information.
- The political origins of the Steele dossier were known to senior DOJ and FBI officials, but excluded from the FISA applications.
- DOJ official Bruce Ohr met with Steele beginning in the summer of 2016 and relayed to DOJ information about Steele’s bias. Steele told Ohr that he, Steele, was desperate that Donald Trump not get elected president and was passionate about him not becoming president.
As a reminder, the FBI and Justice Department mounted a months-long effort to keep the information outlined in the memo out of the House Intelligence Committee’s hands. Only the threat of contempt charges and other forms of pressure forced the FBI and Justice to give up the material.
Once Intelligence Committee leaders and staff compiled some of that information into the memo, the FBI and Justice Department, supported by Capitol Hill Democrats, mounted a ferocious campaign of opposition, saying release of the memo would endanger national security and the rule of law.
But Intelligence Committee chairman Devin Nunes never wavered in his determination to make the information available to the public. President Trump agreed, and, as required by House rules, gave his approval for release.
Finally, the memo released today does not represent the sum total of what House investigators have learned in their review of the FBI and Justice Department Trump-Russia investigation. That means the fight over the memo could be replayed in the future when the Intelligence Committee decides to release more information.
Moments after the announcement that the memo was declassified, Trump spoke to reporters and was asked if the memo makes it more likely that he will fire Deputy AG Rod Rosenstein, to which Trump responded.
When asked if the memo makes it more likely he will fire Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein, Trump responds: "You figure that one out." pic.twitter.com/8eyAtm8uKF
— BuzzFeed News (@BuzzFeedNews) February 2, 2018
Full memo below (pdf link):