Saturday, February 24, 2018
Democrats on the U.S. House Intelligence Committee defended official investigations into claims of Russian meddling in the 2016 presidential election in a party memo released on Saturday. The 10-page, partially-redacted document, which was posted to the panel's website, sharply criticized a previously released Republican memo as a "transparent effort to undermine" investigations by the FBI, Justice Department and Special Counsel Robert Mueller. The memo defends the FBI's obtaining of warrants to conduct temporary surveillance of Carter Page, an associate of President Donald Trump's election campaign, whom the Democrats say "the FBI assessed to be an agent of the Russian government."
Here is the memo:
Intel Committee Ranking Member Schiff Releases Democratic Response Memo
Washington, February 24, 2018
Washington, DC -- Today, Rep. Adam Schiff (D-CA), the Ranking Member of the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence, released the following statement:
"After reviewing the memorandum drafted by committee Republicans that was made public at the beginning of this month, the FBI rightly expressed its 'grave concerns about material omissions of fact that fundamentally impact the memo's accuracy.'
"Here are some of the material facts the Majority deliberately omitted:
· The FBI supplied information to the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court that Russia might be colluding with Trump campaign associates. DOJ provided the Court with a comprehensive explanation of Russia's election interference including evidence that Russia courted another Trump foreign policy advisor, George Papadopoulos, and that Russian agents previewed their dissemination of information damaging to Hillary Clinton. Russian assistance would, as we would learn in the Papadopoulos plea, take the form of the anonymous disclosure of thousands of Hillary Clinton and DNC emails.
· The FBI had ample reason to believe that Carter Page was acting as an agent of a foreign power based on his history, including the fact that he had previously been a target of Russian recruitment, his travel to Russia, and other information. The renewals of the FISA were also appropriate and based on new information obtained by law enforcement.
· The FBI did disclose that those who employed Christopher Steele were likely motivated to discredit Trump's presidential campaign. The Bureau used proper masking procedures so as not to reveal the identities of U.S. persons not subject to the FISA, but made clear that the likely purpose was opposition research.
· Contrary to the Majority's assertions, the FBI and DOJ did not use a Yahoo News article to corroborate Steele; it was referenced alongside another article and a letter Page wrote to then FBI Director James Comey to inform the court of Page's public denials.
"The Democratic response memo released today should put to rest any concerns that the American people might have as to the conduct of the FBI, the Justice Department and the FISC. Our extensive review of the initial FISA application and three subsequent renewals failed to uncover any evidence of illegal, unethical, or unprofessional behavior by law enforcement and instead revealed that both the FBI and DOJ made extensive showings to justify all four requests.
"The document that we are releasing today is the product of a good faith negotiation between the Minority and the FBI and DOJ. But it is unfortunate that the weekend release of the Democratic memo by the White House was delayed beyond what was necessary and to the advantage of those seeking to mislead the American public. From the beginning, the HPSCI Minority expressed its support for any limited redactions to protect sources and methods, as well as sensitive ongoing investigative equities, and these redactions were agreed to at the expert level over a week ago.
"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 U.S. persons played in that interference and what we need to do to protect the country going forward."
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