A memo that shows alleged government surveillance abuse has been released and includes testimony from a high-ranking government official who says without the infamous Trump dossier, the FBI and DOJ would not have secured surveillance warrants to spy on at least one member of the Trump team.
The House Intelligence Committee released the memo on Friday afternoon about alleged abuses involving FISA, or the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act, during the 2016 election.
The memo says the committee’s findings “raise concerns with the legitimacy and legality of certain DOJ and FBI interactions” with the FISA court and “represent a troubling breakdown of legal processes established to protect the American people from abuses related to the FISA process.”
It specifically cites the DOJ and FBI’s surveillance of onetime Trump campaign adviser Carter Page, saying the dossier “formed an essential part” of the application to spy on him.
The memo, which has been at the center of an intense power struggle between congressional Republicans, was declassified ahead of its release Friday.
It also claims the FBI and DOJ used media reporting to lend credibility to the dossier, while the firm behind the dossier, Fusion GPS, briefed major American news outlets to include New York Times, Washington Post, CNN, New Yorker, Yahoo and Mother Jones.
The memo shows that after former British spy Christopher Steele was cut off from the FBI, he continued to pass information, as did Fusion GPS, through Justice Department Official Bruce Ohr. Ohr’s wife Nellie began working for Fusion GPS as early as May 2016.
“Steele ‘was desperate that Donald Trump not get elected and was passionate about him not being president'”
It also claims evidence that Steele has a personal animus for the President Trump.
“Steele admitted to Ohr his feelings against then Candidate Trump, in September of 2016, when Steele told Ohr, that he Steele ‘was desperate that Donald Trump not get elected and was passionate about him not being president,” the memo reads, according to an excerpt obtained by Fox News.
Speaking to reporters on Friday, Trump, who has read the memo, called the contents “a disgrace.”
“A lot of people should be ashamed of themselves,” he said.
The unclassified four-page memo says it was written to provide lawmakers information on the FBI and DOJ’s use of Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act, or FISA, surveillance during the 2016 presidential election.
The memo stated that on October 21, 2016, the Justice Department and the FBI “sought and received” a FISA probable cause order authorizing “electronic surveillance” on Carter Page from the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court. At the time, Page was a volunteer advisor on the Trump campaign.
The Page warrant application required certification from either then-FBI Director James Comey or then-Deputy FBI Director Andrew McCabe. McCabe stepped down from his post at the FBI on Monday.
According to the memo, the FBI and DOJ obtained “one initial FISA warrant” targeting Page, and three FISA renewals from the FISA court. The statute required that every 90 days, a FISA order on an American citizen “must be renewed.”
The memo stated that Comey signed three FISA applications for Page and McCabe signed one. Trump’s current Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein also signed at least one FISA application for Page –along with former Deputy Attorney General Sally Yates and former Acting Deputy Attorney General Dana Boente.
In a statement to Fox News, Page said the memo reveals an “unprecedented abuse of process.”
“The brave and assiduous oversight by Congressional leaders in discovering this unprecedented abuse of process represents a giant, historic leap in the repair of America’s democracy,” Page said. “Now that a few of the misdeeds against the Trump Movement have been partially revealed, I look forward to updating my pending legal action in opposition to DOJ this weekend in preparation for Monday’s next small step on the long, potholed road toward helping to restore law and order in our great country.”
The White House sent a letter to Nunes accompanying the unredacted, declassified memo Friday.
“The president understands that the protection of our national security represents his highest obligation,” White House Counsel to the president Don McGhan wrote in a letter to Nunes Friday.
McGahn said the White House review process included input from the Office of the Director of National Intelligence and the Department of Justice, along with direction from lawyers and national security staff.
“Consistent with this review and these standards, the president has determined that declassification of the Memorandum is appropriate,” McGahn wrote, clarifying that the memo “reflects the judgement of its congressional authors.
“Though the circumstances leading to the declassification through this process are extraordinary, the Executive Branch stands ready to work with Congress to accommodate oversight requests consistent with applicable standards and processes, including the need to protect intelligence sources and methods,” McGahn wrote.
The release of the four-page memo comes after the House Intelligence Committee voted earlier this week, over Democratic objections, to make the document public. This led to a rare and stunning rebuke from the bureau, which said Wednesday they had “grave concerns about material omissions of fact that fundamentally impact the memo’s accuracy.”
In a last-ditch objection, the top Democrat on the House committee claimed overnight that Chairman Devin Nunes, R-Calif., had made “material changes” to the memo that was sent to the White House for review.
But Nunes’ office described the changes as minor and blasted the complaint as a “bizarre distraction from the abuses detailed in the memo.”
The White House has backed the memo’s release, calling for “transparency.”
Earlier Friday, President Trump unleashed an early-morning tweet at a Justice Department he said has been “politicized” by Democrats.
GOP-led House investigators believe the FBI used a dubious dossier, initially prepared as campaign opposition research for Hillary Clinton’s presidential bid, to get permission from a secret federal court to eavesdrop on Trump campaign and transition team communications.
“The top Leadership and Investigators of the FBI and the Justice Department have politicized the sacred investigative process in favor of Democrats and against Republicans – something which would have been unthinkable just a short time ago,” Trump wrote. “Rank & File are great people!”
Just more than two weeks, Republican lawmakers first drew attention to the memo, with some calling it “shocking,” “troubling” and “alarming” and one likening the details to KGB activity in Russia. They argued the memo should be immediately made public, leading to a social media #ReleaseTheMemo campaign.
Fox News’ Brooke Singman, Pamela Browne and Cyd Upson contributed to this report.
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