The memo, written by Republicans and House Intelligence Committee Chairman Devin Nunes, alleges the FBI used unsubstantiated evidence to spy on a Trump aide, Carter Page.
The memo alleges that Christopher Steele, the ex-British intelligence agent who wrote the ‘Steele Dossier’, harbored anti-Trump financial and ideological motivations that were not included in the FISA application, and that senior DOJ officials knew about Steele’s anti-Trump bias.
According to the memo that Steele told then-Associate Deputy Attorney General Bruce Ohr in September 2016 that he “was desperate that Donald Trump not get elected and was passionate about him not being president.”
The memo alleges that then-Deputy FBI Director Andrew McCabe told the committee that no surveillance warrant would have been sought for a Trump campaign aide without the Steele dossier.
The memo is the most explicit Republican effort yet to discredit the FBI’s investigation into Trump and Russia.
The FBI issued a rare public warning on Wednesday, January 31 2018, that the memo omits key information that could impact its veracity.
“We have grave concerns about the material omissions of fact that fundamentally impact the memo’s accuracy.”
On Thursday, former Director of the FBI, James Comey tweeted:
“All should appreciate the FBI speaking up. I wish more of our leaders would. But take heart: American history shows that, in the long run, weasels and liars never hold the field, so long as good people stand up. Not a lot of schools or streets named for Joe McCarthy.”
The release also raises the question of whether Trump might seek to dismiss deputy attorney general, Rod Rosenstein, who appointed special counsel Robert Mueller. When asked whether he was going to fire Rosenstein, Trump said:
“You figure that one out.”
On February 2 2018, in the run-up to the release of the memo, Trump tweeted:
“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!”
Democrats have painted the memo as inaccurate, and that it has been released to undermine Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s probe. The Democrats disputed what the memo concluded about McCabe’s testimony on the dossier as the basis for a FISA warrant. One House Democrat on the committee said:
“They are mischaracterizing what he said.”
The application to target Page was made on 21 October 2016, a month after the Trump campaign publicly distanced itself from its former adviser, as his ties to Russia came under public scrutiny.
Kellyanne Conway, then Trump’s campaign manager, said in September 2016.
“He’s certainly not part of the campaign I’m running.”
The memo also does not note that material from the Steele dossier was a part of the basis for the application but was not solely used for its justification.
The House Intelligence Committee Minority has responded to the release of the memo with a statement:
“Chairman Nunes’ decision, supported by House Speaker Ryan and Republican Members of the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence, to publicly release misleading allegations against the Department of Justice and Federal Bureau of Investigation is a shameful effort to discredit these institutions, undermine the Special Counsel’s ongoing investigation, and undercut congressional probes. Furthermore, their refusal to allow release of a comprehensive response memorandum prepared by Committee Democrats is a transparent effort to suppress the full truth.”
The statement finishes with:
“It is telling that Chairman Nunes put out this memo without bothering to read the underlying materials, and that he ordered changes to the document without informing his own committee members. It is a terrible lapse in leadership that Speaker Ryan failed to intervene and prevent the abuse of classified materials in this way. It is tragic, if all too predictable, that this President would allow the release of the memo despite FBI and DOJ’s expressions of ‘grave concerns about material omissions of fact that fundamentally impact the [Republicans’] memo’s accuracy’. But most destructive of all may be the announcement by Chairman Nunes that he has placed the FBI and DOJ under investigation, impugning and impairing the work of the dedicated professionals trying to keep our country safe.”
Christopher Wray, Director of the FBI sent a letter to all FBI agents:
“The American people read the papers, and they hear lots of talk on cable TV and social media. But they see and experience the actual work you do ― keeping communities safe and our nation secure… and that will always matter more”
“Talk is cheap. The work you do is what will endure.”
“We speak through our work. One case at a time. One intellignece product at a time. One decision at a time.”
“We do that work, and stay laser-focused on doing great work, even when it’s not easy, because we believe in the FBI. We believe in what it stands for and in what this institution means to people.
“And nothing is going to change that.”
“We’re going to keep doing that work, because we know who and what we are, and because we know that our mission comes first. The American people come first.”
“So I ask you to keep doing your great work and keep being the great oeioke you are. And I know that I consider it an incredible privilege to work beside you – and that I’m determined to defend your integrity and professionalism every day.”
“Remember: keep calm and tackle hard.”
“Thank you for standing strong together, and for keeping your faith in this institution that means so much to all of us.”
James Comey, Former Director of the FBI tweeted in response of the memos release:
“That’s it? Dishonest and misleading memo wrecked the House intel committee, destroyed trust with Intelligence Community, damaged relationship with FISA court, and inexcusably exposed classified investigation of an American citizen. For what? DOJ & FBI must keep doing their jobs.”
Rep. Adam Schiff of California, the top Democrat on the House Intelligence Committee responded with:
“The President’s decision to publicly release a misleading memo attacking DOJ & FBI is a transparent attempt to discredit these institutions and undermine Mueller’s probe. We’ll fight to release our classified response.”
Devin Nunes said in a statement that the committee had:
“Discovered serious violations of the public trust, and the American people have a right to know when officials in crucial institutions are abusing their authority for political purposes. It is my hope that the committee’s actions will shine a light on this alarming series of events so we can make reforms that allow the American people to have full faith and confidence in their governing institutions.”
On the 2nd February 2018, Donald Trump Jr. quite comically tweeted:
“Apparently the press only likes their information “leaked” from unverified sources rather than released openly from congress… I think it will be tough for them to sell their “democracy dies in dankness” byline with this kind of logic. https://twitter.com/mitchellreports/status/958916674991902720 …”
One can only presume he meant darkness instead of dankness and also mentioned a byline, which is an author’s name on a piece of work.
On February 3, 2018 Trump tweeted:
“This memo totally vindicates “Trump” in probe. But the Russian Witch Hunt goes on and on. Their was no Collusion and there was no Obstruction (the word now used because, after one year of looking endlessly and finding NOTHING, collusion is dead). This is an American disgrace!”
A copy of the ‘Nunes memo’ is as follows: