House Republicans have released an anticipated memo alleging surveillance abuses by the FBI in its investigation of Russian influence in President Donald Trump’s campaign.
In a tweet posted ahead of the memo’s release, Trump said: “The top Leadership and Investigators of the FBI and the Justice Department have politicized the sacred investigative process in favor of Democrats and against Republicans—something which would have been unthinkable just a short time ago. Rank & File are great people!”
Politico calls the release “a dramatic new stage in the GOP’s effort to delegitimize the federal probe.”
The memo says a dossier written by former British spy Christopher Steele was “an essential part” in the application for a warrant authorizing surveillance of Carter Page, a former adviser to the Trump campaign.
Steele was hired by Fusion GPS, which had been hired by the law firm Perkins Coie in its representation of Hillary Clinton’s campaign and the Democratic National Committee. Steele was paid more than $160,000 by the law firm, the memo says. The FBI had also separately authorized payments to Steele for the same information, according to the memo.
The memo says senior officials with the FBI and the Justice Department knew of the Democratic connection, but did not disclose it in the initial warrant application to the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court and in subsequent renewal applications. Nor was there disclosure of the FBI authorizing payments, the memo says.
The warrant application had also cited a Yahoo News article that is based on information leaked by Steele, the memo says. He was eventually suspended and terminated as an FBI source for leaking his relationship with the FBI to the magazine, Mother Jones, according to the memo.
After Steele was terminated as a source, he maintained contact with the Justice Department through then-Associate Deputy Attorney General Bruce Ohr, whose wife worked for Fusion GPS cultivating opposition research on Trump, the memo says. Ohr later provided the FBI with his wife’s opposition research, the memo says.
According to the memo, the findings “raise concerns about the legitimacy and legality” of Justice Department and FBI interactions with the court.
The House Intelligence Committee had voted to release the memo on Monday, setting off a five-day period in which Trump could have blocked the release. The FBI had objected to the release, saying in a statement that it had “grave concerns about material omissions of fact that fundamentally impact the memo’s accuracy.”
White House counsel Don McGahn says in a letter explaining the president’s decision that declassification is permitted under established standards when the public interest in disclosure outweighs any need to protect the information.
The top Leadership and Investigators of the FBI and the Justice Department have politicized the sacred investigative process in favor of Democrats and against Republicans – something which would have been unthinkable just a short time ago. Rank & File are great people!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) February 2, 2018