GOP memo answers and raises questions

The controversial document was released despite warning from FBI and DOJ

Photo courtesy of Joshua Roberts | The Nunes Memo, named after Rep. Devin Nunes, R-Calif. (pictured above), was released on Feb. 2. It suggests that several high level law enforcement officials abused their power during the 2016 presidential campaign.

President Donald Trump declassified and authorized the release of Rep. Devin Nunes’ (R-Calif.) four-page memo on Feb. 2, despite warnings from the FBI, Department of Justice (DOJ) and other lawmakers. The memo suggests that top law enforcement officials abused their surveillance authority while investigating the Trump campaign’s ties to Russia. Democrats have criticized the move, claiming the memo omits important facts.

The memo itself focuses on the FBI’s actions when seeking a warrant to wiretap former Trump campaign adviser Carter Page, specifically in the application for a Foreign Intelligence Surveillance court (FISA) authorization. Nunes appears to suggest in the memo that the FBI relied on information it had not obtained itself, rather acting on information from a dossier written by former British Intelligence agent Christopher Steele. The dossier was partly financed by the DNC and Clinton Campaign and originally financed by the Jeb Bush campaign. The accusation is that the FBI did not disclose who funded the dossier during the FISA application.

Despite the content of the memo, there are several important items the memo omits or doesn’t explain. For example, Nunes does not state that the government surveilled Page only after he’d left the Trump campaign. The memo also claims that “senior DOJ and FBI officials” knew who funded the dossier but does not specify. This is also contrary to the Democratic counterpart on the House Intelligence Committee who said that “the Majority suggests that the FBI failed to alert the court to Mr. Steele’s potential political motivations… but this is not accurate.”

The memo also alleges that the FBI should have terminated Steele after leaking information to Yahoo News. However, it also admits the FBI didn’t know about Steele’s leak, saying in the document, “Steele improperly concealed from and lied to the FBI about those contacts.”

Nunes also indicts Bruce Ohr, the former Director of the Organized Crime Drug Enforcement Task Force, for his connections to Steele and his wife’s connection to the Clinton campaign. Nellie Ohr works for Fusion GPS, which is the company that conducted opposition research for the Clinton campaign as well as paid for part of the Steele Dossier. Ohr was also Steele’s DOJ contact and alleges that Steele admitted that he “was desperate that Donald Trump not get elected and was passionate about him not being President.” The memo goes on to explain that this means the FBI had known Steele’s bias in its official files, but it is not reflected in the FISA application. Despite this, the memo does not make the claim that Ohr was involved in the FISA application, nor does it have evidence that Ohr was involved in the Page wiretap specifically.

One thing the memo does confirm is the FBI did not start its investigation because of the Steele Dossier. Instead, it confirms that “The Page FISA application also mentions information regarding fellow Trump campaign advisor (George) Papadopoulus… The Papadopoulos information triggered the opening of an FBI counterintelligence investigation in late July 2016 by FBI agent Pete Strzok.”

President Trump has not yet pledged to authorize the release of the Democrat’s rebuttal memo to Nunes. The memo’s release was voted on by the House Intelligence Committee late Monday night. Senate Minority leader Chuck Schumer wrote a letter to President Trump on Sunday saying that if the president does not release the Democrats’ memo it “will confirm the American people’s worst fears that the release of Chairman Nunes’ memo was only intended to undermine Special Counsel Bob Mueller’s investigation.”

By: Jack Dunn ~Staff Writer~