The media is having a field day – as in “battlefield” – following the release of a previously classified memo prepared by Republicans that details alleged FBI and Justice Department surveillance abuses involving onetime Trump campaign advisor Carter Page.
The so-called FISA (for Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act) memo says that a dossier compiled by ex-British spy Christopher Steele “on behalf of the Democratic National Committee and the Hillary Clinton campaign formed an essential part” of an application for surveillance of Page to look at possible connections with Russia.
“Steele,” the memo says, “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.”
The memo also reveals that Steele was suspended and later terminated as an FBI source over allegedly unauthorized disclosure to the media of his relationship with that federal law enforcement agency.
Steele’s apparent bias against then-candidate Donald Trump allegedly became clear in September 2016 during a conversation with then-Associate Deputy Attorney General Bruce Ohr in which Steele said he “was desperate that Donald Trump not get elected and was passionate about him not being president,” the memo says.
The memo was sent to members of the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence, chaired by Rep. Devin Nunes (R-CA). Release of the memo is already drawing criticism from Democrats and FBI officials who argue that it is lacking in certain facts. Democrats are also upset because their own memo on the surveillance allegations has not been released.
According to Fox News, the FBI issued a rebuke over the memo’s release in which the agency expressed “grave concerns about material omissions of fact that fundamentally impact the memo’s accuracy.”
The memo, from the committee’s Majority Staff, said that “our findings…raise concerns with the legitimacy and legality of certain DOJ and FBI interactions with the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court (FISC) and…represent a troubling breakdown of legal processes established to protect the American people from abuses related to the FISA process.”
Days ago, a Rasmussen survey found that a majority of voters think there should be a special prosecutor to investigate the FBI.
In October 2016, a couple of weeks before the November presidential election, “DOJ and FBI sought and received a FIA probable cause order…authorizing electronic surveillance on Carter Page from the FISC,” the memo details.
It appears that an “essential part of the Carter Page FISA application” was a “dossier” compiled by Steele “on behalf of the Democratic National Committee (DNC) and the Hillary Clinton campaign,” the memo details. “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,” the memo adds.
The memo has all the ingredients of a major scandal in which it is alleged the FBI and DOJ were “weaponized” as a political tool against Trump, as a candidate and then as president-elect.
Former FBI Director James Comey appears to be trying to downplay the memo’s contents, while Democratic House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi is having fits. She called Nunes “a stooge for the president.”
One question swirling around release of the memo is whether it will lead to some people losing their jobs. No doubt the memo will generate lots of material for debates between various network news pundits.