As you are probably aware, the Democratic memo regarding the Carter Page FISA warrant process was finally released this afternoon (Saturday, 2/24/18) after a 2 week delay while the Republican memo was to allow to circulate freely without any redactions.
In the following article I have attempted to summarize as best I could the minority memo issued to counter the misinforming information and outright lies contained in the infamous Nunes memo which sought to discredit the FBI and the Mueller. Much of the basic information contained in the Democratic memo we have already leaned through media sources. However, despite the redactions aimed at protecting intelligence sources and methods, the memo goes into great detail as to why that basic information is indeed correct.
(It should be noted that this minority memo was written by Representative Adam Schiff who actually read the underlying intelligence documents and FISA warrant requests. Devin Nunes, the author of the majority memo, never bothered.)
- The Steel dossier played no role in the opening of the investigation into the Russian meddling in our election process or the opening of the subsequent investigation into the links between the Russian efforts and the Trump campaign. The original Russian investigation was opened based on credible evidence developed solely by our intelligence agencies. In fact the investigators involved in that investigation did not view the dossier until 7 weeks after their investigation began. The opening of the phase of the investigation dealing with the Trump campaign was based on intelligence on a disclosure made by George Papadopoulos. It was not based on the dossier. Because the dossier information was so closely held within the FBI, the investigators who opened the phase of the investigation into links with the Trump campaign did not know of its existence at the time that investigation was opened. (How the Papadopoulos disclosure became known the FBI is redacted in the memo, but we know that it came from information provided to the FBI by the Australia ambassador.)
- Carter Page was not a member of the Trump campaign when the first FISA warrant was sought and in fact the FBI first interviewed Page the month in which he was also interviewed for his campaign job.
- Only a narrow use of the dossier was made in the FBI’s request for a FISA warrant on Page, specifically the information concerning his meeting with Russians in July of 2016. In addition, the FBI was able to separately collaborate much of the information provided by Steel in the dossier. The majority of the information provided by the FBI to the FISA judge dealt with intelligence concerning Page’s associations with Russian spies and other Russian contacts drawn from numerous other intelligence sources. Page was on the FBI’s radar long before and after his stint with the Trump campaign because the FBI had intelligence that Russian spies were trying to recruit him and because of his frequent contacts with Russians with close ties to Putin. At one point Page was told in a meeting with one of Putin’s close associates that the Russians had “kompromat’ (compromising information) on Hilary Clinton. This same information was also provided by the Russians to Papadopoulos.
- The FISA judge who ultimately issued the first FISA warrant on Page was informed as to the probable political motivations of those who financed the dossier. The DOJ officials involved in developing the requests for the FISA warrants were totally transparent with the Judge. They explained in great detail Steel’s history with the FBI, their evaluation of his credibility and reliability of his previous reporting. They did not provide the names of the persons and organizations that hired Steel because of the long-established DOJ practice of protecting the names US citizens who are not the subject of the investigation by not “unmasking” them in the FISA process. However, they did make it clear that the person or person that paid for the investigation was attempting to discredit Trump. They also told the judges that Steel was never told who was financing his work.
- Given the intelligence available on Carter Page, not only did the FBI and Justice Department officials not abuse the FISA process, they would have been remis in their duty to protect the country had they not sought the warrant.
- The FISA warrant on Page was renewed three times at 6 months intervals as required by law. Each renewal required the FBI demonstrate to a FISA judge that the surveillance of Page was still necessary because the information learned in previous surveillance was valuable in the protection of national security. (The information learned during the surveillance of Page was redacted in the memo.) Four different federal judges were involved in issuing the initial warrant and the three subsequent renewals, three of whom were appointed by Republican presidents. The request for the original warrant was certified by Obama appointed DOJ officials, but the requests for the warrant renewal requests were certified by Obama and then Trump appointees in the DOJ.
- The Page warrant was not used to spy on the Trump or his campaign, Page had ended his association with the Trump campaign before the first warrant went into effect.
- The majority report falsely stated the request for the initial FISA warrant relied heavily on a Yahoo article by Michael Isikoff. In fact, the DOJ used that article in the warrant application, along with another article not mentioned by the majority memo, only to provide evidence that Page lied to the Senate Intelligence subcommittee and later in a letter to FBI director Comey when he specified that he did not participate in suspected meetings with the Russians.
- Finally, the Peter Strzok and Lisa Page text messages were irreverent in the issuance of the Page warrant. Neither Strzok nor Page were involved in the development of the request for the warrants. In addition, in an effort to deaminize these FBI professionals, the majority report intentionally left out references to numerous “inconvenient” text messages which demonstrate that the pair was involved the criticism of a wide range of officials and candidates of both political parties.
The Shift memo is actually 7 not 10 pages long with the last three pages containing annotated references which explain and support various sections of the memo.
You can read the entire memo here on this CNN web page: https://www.cnn.com/2018/02/24/politics/read-democratic-memo/index.html