Democrats are pushing back on the House Intelligence Committee memo's assertion that Andrew McCabe, deputy director of the FBI, informed the panel that the agency would not have pursued placing a Trump campaign adviser under surveillance without the unverified "Trump dossier" written by former British spy Christopher Steele.
“Deputy Director McCabe testified before the Committee in December 2017 that no surveillance warrant would have been sought from the FISC without the Steele dossier information,” a controversial memo composed by Rep. Devin Nunes' staff claims in regard to the secret Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court. The memo was released Friday.
In response to the Republican memo, which outlines surveillance violations by the U.S. government, Democrats have created their own report that reportedly rebuts the GOP memo, claiming that the document mischaracterized what McCabe said about the significance of the dossier.
Rather, the Democratic memo, which has yet to be released, asserts that McCabe used the information contained in the dossier as part of a broader trove of material used for a FISA application to spy on former Trump campaign foreign policy adviser, Carter Page, sources told the New York Times. As both the Times' sources and the Democrats have said, that evidence also included details about Page's contacts with a Russian intelligence operative in 2013.
The contacts prompted the investigation and surveillance of Page, other sources told the Times.
A sources familiar with McCabe’s testimony to the intelligence panel in December 2017 echoed the Times reporting, telling the Daily Beast that McCabe's testimony in the GOP memo is “100% not" not a true representation.
The Democratic memo reportedly asserts that the FBI told the surveillance court when seeking renewal of the surveillance authorization that the agency was no longer in communication with Steele because he was discussing the investigation with reporters. The judge still renewed the warrant.
The dossier was part of opposition research partly funded by the Democratic National Committee and Hillary Clinton’s presidential campaign. But according to the Republican memo, the FBI and Justice Department did not disclose that information when attempting to renew the warrant.
Democrats from the House Intelligence Committee have harped on the point that the GOP memo concedes that the dossier, parts of which have not been verified, was not what prompted the FBI to launch an investigation into the Trump campaign, but rather the activities of Trump campaign foreign policy adviser, George Papadopoulos.
The top Democrat on the House Intelligence Committee, Adam Schiff, D-Calif., issued a statement earlier on Friday refuting the Republican memo.
“The premise of the Nunes memo is that the FBI and DOJ corruptly sought a FISA warrant on a former Trump campaign foreign policy adviser, Carter Page, and deliberately misled the court as part of a systematic abuse of the FISA process,” Schiff said. “As the Minority memo makes clear, none of this is true.”
President Trump declassified the memo on Friday, and the House panel subsequently released it shortly thereafter.
Congressional Republicans have been clamoring for the memo to be released, and Trump allegedly said he believed the memo would cause the Justice Department’s Russia probe to lose credibility, though top Republicans like Rep. Trey Gowdy have said that Robert Mueller's efforts remain unaffected.
It was revealed earlier this week that McCabe would be stepping down immediately as deputy FBI director.