The first document which was written by Devin Nunes, the Republican House Intelligence chairman, was released by Feb. 2. It implied that the FBI and Justice Department had acted improperly when it sought FISA warrants in order to surveil Donald Trump campaign aide Carter Page.
A FISA warrant is obtained in Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court behind closed doors and allows agencies to monitor foreign spies who are operating within the U.S. The proceedings are held behind closed doors due to the sensitive nature fo the warrants, however, the judges in these proceedings rarely turn down warrant requests.
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The crux of the argument in the Nunes memo was that the FBI and Justice Department had left out some important information when applying for the FISA warrant to monitor Page.
It states the warrant used info from a dossier compiled by former British spy Christopher Steele as a basis for the wiretaps but had failed to note that Steele, who was working for a company called Fusion GPS, had been hired by an agency connected to the Clinton campaign to dig up dirt on Trump.
Nunes’ memo said the lack of disclosure points to the political motivations of the FBI and DOJ and also tarnishes the investigation.
The Democrats’ memo, which was written by Adam Schiff and released this past Saturday, argues that the Nunes memo cherry-picked information it used in its memo.
Their memo argues that while the FBI and DOJ did use information from the Steele dossier to obtain the warrant, the DOJ used a multi-pronged approach involving multiple sources to obtain the warrants.
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The second memo also says the government agencies did indeed let the judges know that “Steele was hired by politically-motivated U.S. persons and entities and that his research appeared intended for use ‘to discredit’ Trump’s campaign.”
It also points out that three separate judges approved the warrants, and the fact that Steele was a known and trusted FBI source.
The Republican memo also suggests information about former Associate Deputy Attorney General Bruce Ohr should have been disclosed to the FISA court.
Ohr was the DOJ contact at Fusion GPS, the firm which employed Steele as well as Ohr’s wife Nellie.
The memo states “in September 2016, Steele admitted to Ohr his feelings against then-candidate Trump when Steele said he ‘was desperate that Donald Trump not get elected and was passionate about him not, being president.’”
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The document says this points to the clear bias in Steele’s work. It also notes that the relationship between the Ohrs and Fusion GPS was also not presented in the FISA applications.
The Schiff memo counters the other document’s reference to Ohr is “misleading” and overstates the importance of Ohr’s dealings with both Steele and the FlSA process.
– With files from Associated Press