The following memo was submitted to the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence on January 18, 2018, and released to the public on February 2, 2018 by President Trump in order to provide the American people with an official, verbatim update on the latest findings related to the FBI and DOJ investigation into the Steele Dossier and the consequential surveillance of President Trump and his campaign team leading up to and during the 2017 United States Presidential Election.
“Our findings, which are detailed below, 1) raise concerns with the legitimacy and legality of certain DOJ and FBI interactions with the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court (FISC), and 2) represent a troubling breakdown of legal processes established to protect the American people from abuses related to the FISA process,” the House Majority Staff members wrote in the memo. Here are the key details you need to know from the memo and our comments on those key details.
1. “Probable Cause” To Investigate Trump Campaign Based on DNC Paid For Dossier
“On October 21, 2016, DOJ and FBI sought and received a FISA probable cause order (not under Title VII) authorizing electronic surveillance on Carter Page from the FISC. Page is a U.S. citizen who served as a volunteer advisor to the Trump presidential campaign. Consistent with requirements under FISA, the application had to be first certified by the Director or Deputy Director of the FBI. It then required the approval of the Attorney General, Deputy Attorney General (DAG), or the Senate-confirmed Assistant Attorney General for the National Security Division.”
2. Then-FBI Director James Comey Signed Off on 3 Renewals (That Omitted Key Details About Dossier) To Continue Investigating Trump Administration Both Pre and Post-Election
The FBI and DOJ obtained one initial FISA warrant targeting Carter Page and three FISA renewals from the FISC. As required by statute (50 U.S.C. §,1805(d)(l)), a FISA order on an American citizen must be renewed by the FISC every 90 days and each renewal requires a separate finding of probable cause. Then-Director James Comey signed three FISA applications in question on behalf of the FBI, and Deputy Director Andrew McCabe signed one. Then-DAG Sally Yates, then-Acting DAG Dana Boente, and DAG Rod Rosenstein each signed one or more FISA applications on behalf of DOJ.
3. In order to protect ALL American citizens, including public officials, the process for requesting initial surveillance clearance on an individual, along with the extension requests needed every 90-days in order to continue that surveillance, is meant to be extremely detailed and robust. That said, it is inexcusable that key details mentioned in the following memo were omitted by the DNC and the Clinton campaign, but more importantly, overlooked by the DOJ and the FBI. How can a system of checks and balances work if the highest branches of government cannot even carry out their duties honestly and thoroughly?
“1) The “dossier” compiled by Christopher Steele (Steele dossier) on behalf of the Democratic National Committee (DNC) and the Hillary Clinton campaign formed an essential part of the Carter Page FISA application. Steele was a longtime FBI source who was paid over $160,000 by the DNC and Clinton campaign, via the law firm Perkins Coie and research firm Fusion GPS, to obtain derogatory information on Donald Trump’s ties to Russia.”
4. The initial “probable cause” submitted on the FISA application by the FBI and DOJ needed to probe President Trump’s campaign man, Page was based on a paid-for, dossier from Christopher Steele whose employment for Fusion GPS was, at the time, entirely hidden by the FBI and the DOJ for obvious reasons – Fusion GPS was paid over $160,000 by the DNC and the Clinton campaign.
“a) Neither the initial application in October 2016, nor any of the renewals, disclose or reference the role of the DNC, Clinton campaign, or any party/campaign in funding Steele’s efforts, even though the political origins of the Steele dossier were then known to senior DOJ and FBI officials.”
5. The DOJ hid all information regarding Steele’s employment for Fusion GPS or any DNC involvement in the assembly of the dossier.
“b) The initial FISA application notes Steele was working for a named U.S. person, but does not name Fusion GPS and principal Glenn Simpson, who was paid by a U.S. law firm (Perkins Coie) representing the DNC (even though it was known by DOJ at the time that political actors were involved with the Steele dossier). The application does not mention Steele was ultimately working on behalf of—and paid by—the DNC and Clinton campaign, or that the FBI had separately authorized payment to Steele for the same information.”
6. The application and the four consequential applications submitted to request extensions were all based on the Steele dossier which was paid for by the DNC and the Clinton campaign which was known by the FBI and the DOJ and still not mentioned in the application and requests for extension.
“2) The Carter Page FISA application also cited extensively a September 23, 2016, Yahoo News article by Michael Isikoff, which focuses on Page’s July 2016 trip to Moscow. This article does not corroborate the Steele dossier because it is derived from information leaked by Steele himself to Yahoo News. The Page FISA application incorrectly assesses that Steele did not directly provide information to Yahoo News. Steele has admitted in British court filings that he met with Yahoo News—and several other outlets—in September 2016 at the direction of Fusion GPS. Perkins Coie was aware of Steele’s initial media contacts because they hosted at least one meeting in Washington D.C. in 2016 with Steele and Fusion GPS where this matter was discussed.”
7. Steele lied in an interview with Yahoo news about his relationship to Fusion GPS. He was then suspended and terminated as an FBI informant.
“a) Steele was suspended and then terminated as an FBI source for what the FBI defines as the most serious of violations—an unauthorized disclosure to the media of his relationship with the FBI in an October 30, 2016, Mother Jones article by David Corn. Steele should have been terminated for his previous undisclosed contacts with Yahoo and other outlets in September—before the Page application was submitted to the FISC in October—but Steele improperly concealed from and lied to the FBI about those contacts.”
8. The FBI claims to have terminated Steele due to unlawful disclosure of confidential information to Yahoo News and other media outlets.
3) Before and after Steele was terminated as a source, he maintained contact with DOJ via then-Associate Deputy Attorney General Bruce Ohr, a senior DOJ official who worked closely with Deputy Attorneys General Yates and later Rosenstein. Shortly after the election, the FBI began interviewing Ohr, documenting his communications with Steele. For example, 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.” This clear evidence of Steele’s bias was recorded by Ohr at the time and subsequently in official FBI files—but not reflected in any of the Page FISA applications.
9. Former Associate Deputy Attorney General Bruce Ohr’s wife worked for Fusion GPS and assisted with anti-Trump research. Her relationship with Christopher Steele and her work on the anti-Trump dossier compiled by Fusion GPS was also concealed from the FISC and omitted from the FISA.
a) During this same time period, Ohr’s wife was employed by Fusion GPS to assist in the cultivation of opposition research on Trump. Ohr later provided the FBI with all of his wife’s opposition research, paid for by the DNC and Clinton campaign via Fusion GPS. The Ohrs’ relationship with Steele and Fusion GPS was inexplicably concealed from the FISC.
4) According to the head of the FBI’s counterintelligence division, Assistant Director Bill Priestap, corroboration of the Steele dossier was in its “infancy” at the time of the initial Page FISA application. After Steele was terminated, a source validation report conducted by an independent unit within FBI assessed Steele’s reporting as only minimally corroborated. Yet, in early January 2017, Director Comey briefed President-elect Trump on a summary of the Steele dossier, even though it was—according to his June 2017 testimony—“salacious and unverified.” While the FISA application relied on Steele’s past record of credible reporting on other unrelated matters, it ignored or concealed his anti-Trump financial and ideological motivations. Furthermore, 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.
10. Trump Campaign Advisor, George Papadopoulos was also mentioned in the FISA application for surveillance approval. However, like Page, there seems to be no proof of “reasonable doubt” to justify the investigation.
5) The Page FISA application also mentions information regarding fellow Trump campaign advisor George Papadopoulos, but there is no evidence of any cooperation or conspiracy between Page and Papadopoulos. The Papadopoulos information triggered the opening of an FBI counterintelligence investigation in late July 2016 by FBI agent Pete Strzok. Strzok was reassigned by the Special Counsel’s Office to FBI Human Resources for improper text messages with his mistress, FBI Attorney Lisa Page (no known relation to Carter Page), where they both demonstrated a clear bias against Trump and in favor of Clinton, whom Strzok had also investigated. The Strzok/Lisa Page texts also reflect extensive discussions about the investigation, orchestrating leaks to the media, and include a meeting with Deputy Director McCabe to discuss an “insurance” policy against President Trump’s election.