WASHINGTON (CBSNewYork/CBSNews) – The Democratic memo that’s meant to counter a GOP memo about surveillance of a former Trump campaign official has been released with some redactions, CBS News reports.
President Donald Trump previously decided not to declassify the 10-page memo, claiming there were concerns over sources and methods it might reveal.
The Democratic memo is intended to serve as a sort of counter to the GOP memo, which describes how the Justice Department and FBI acquired and executed surveillance warrants for former Trump campaign aide Carter , in part by allegedly using the dossier of unverified information about Trump’s interactions with Russians.
Democrats feared the GOP would use the GOP memo to discredit special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation into Russian election meddling and any ties to the Trump campaign.
The Democratic memo argues the FBI and DOJ were entirely justified, and relied on much more information than just the dossier crafted by former British intelligence officer Christopher Steele.
“FBI and DOJ officials did not ‘abuse’ the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) process, omit material information, nor subvert this vital tool to spy on the Trump campaign,” the Democratic memo argues. “In fact, DOJ and the FBI would have been remiss in their duty to protect the country had they not sought a FISA warrant and repeated renewals to conduct temporary surveillance of Carter Page, someone the FBI assessed to be an agent of the Russian government. DOJ met the rigor, transparency, and evidentiary basis needed to meet FISA’s probable cause requirement…”
Trump called the newly released counter-memo a “total political and legal BUST” on Twitter.
In a statement, House Intelligence Committee ranking member Rep. Adam Schiff, D-Calif., said his memo shows Republicans “deliberately omitted” information in their memo. Schiff had been pushing for the release of the Democratic memo for weeks.
“The FBI supplied information to the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court that Russia might be colluding with Trump campaign associates,” Schiff said in a statement. “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.”
House Intelligence Committee Chairman Devin Nunes, R-Calif., seemed to think the Democratic memo proves his initial points.
“The American people now clearly understand that the FBI used political dirt paid for by the Democratic Party to spy on an American citizen from the Republican Party,” Nunes said in a statement. “Furthermore, the FISA court was misled about Mr. Page’s past interactions with the FBI in which he helped build a case against Russian operatives in America who were brought to justice. It defies belief that the Department of Justice and FBI failed to provide information to a secret court that they had provided to an open federal court regarding their past interactions with Mr. Page. ”
White House press secretary Sarah Sanders called the Democratic memo, “politically driven.”
“While the Democrats’ memorandum attempts to undercut the president politically, the president supported its release in the interest of transparency,” Sanders said. “Nevertheless, this politically driven document fails to answer serious concerns raised by the Majority’s memorandum about the use of partisan opposition research from one candidate, loaded with uncorroborated allegations, as a basis to ask a court to approve surveillance of a former associate of another candidate, at the height of a presidential campaign. As the majority’s memorandum stated, the FISA judge was never informed that Hillary Clinton and the DNC funded the dossier that was a basis for the Department of Justice’s FISA application.”
Page said the latest memo underscores the “immediate disclosure of all my FISA applications and other relevant documents.”
“This latest smear campaign by DNC loyalists is going to turn out the same way as their original multimillion dollar attack of 2016,” Page said in a statement. “As we’ve seen many times before with the felonious news leaks of the past year, this new round of misinformation surrounding efforts by Washington to illegally influence the 2016 election inflicts even more damages on the instigating perpetrators from the swamp. Today’s latest memo further underscores the critical importance of the immediate disclosure of all my FISA applications and other relevant documents, as requested by the House Intelligence Committee, both Congressional Judiciary Committees, Judicial Watch, the New York Times, Yale Law School, et al.”
The fight over whether or not to release the GOP and Democratic memos has been waging on Capitol Hill for the last month.
(CBS News’ Jeff Pegues, Olivia Andrzejczak Gazis and Kathryn Watson contributed to this report.)