Senior FBI and Department of Justice officials knew when they sought a warrant from the secret court to gather communications of members of President Donald Trump’s team before and after the 2016 presidential election, they were using a “minimally corroborated” dossier paid for the Democratic National Committee and the Hillary Clinton campaign. The officials did not inform the FISA court of this knowledge, according to the much-anticipated four-page memo released by the House Intelligence Committee’s Chairman Devin Nunes Friday.
Despite relentless efforts by Democrats, senior FBI and DOJ officials to keep the memo outlining FISA warrant abuse by the Bureau and Justice Department from going public, Trump authorized its release Friday with only minor redactions.
Nunes, R-CA, argued for the release of the memo, saying its release would not damage any national security processes or the intelligence community.
The memo’s findings “raise concerns about the legitimacy and legality of certain DOJ and FBI interactions” with the FISA court, the memo states.The findings “represent a troubling breakdown of legal processes established to protect the American people from abuses related to the FISA process,” according to the memo.
Congressman Jim Jordan, R-Ohio, and Rep. Mark Meadows R-NC, Chairman of the Freedom Caucus in the House of Representatives, said they will push harder for a special counsel to investigate what they say is mounting evidence of violations by the bureau and DOJ to inappropriately utilize the secret court to spy on members of the Trump campaign during a presidential election.
“I think that the message is that a further investigation needs to take place and Congressman Jordan and I are hoping for the appointment of a second Special Counsel to investigate the investigators,” Meadows said. “It’s important to have an independent counsel to make sure our Fourth Amendment rights are not violated by a special court that authorizes the spying on Americans and part of the follow up on this investigation will be to see exactly who signed the FISA applications and what judges granted them.”
Rep. Jordan, who was with Meadows on Friday and had advocated the release of the memo, said it was necessary for the information in the memo to be made public, adding that a “salacious unverified dossier paid for by the DNC and Clinton campaign was used by the FBI to get a secret warrant to gather communications of an opponent.”
“They didn’t do it once, not twice but they went four times to the court and didn’t tell the court the information in the dossier, or Steele and never revealed to the court what was actually going happening. This is why it is so important to get out because this is never supposed to happen in our great country.”
The FISA abuse memo revealed that recently removed FBI Deputy Director Andrew McCabe confirmed to the committee that no Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act warrant would have been obtained from the courts without the unverified Christopher Steele dossier information. Steele, a former British spy, was hired by the now embattled Washington D.C. research firm Fusion GPS to investigate Trump.
The firm was paid by former presidential candidate Hillary Clinton’s campaign and the Democratic National Committee through their law firm to investigate alleged ties between Trump and his campaign officials, while at the same time Clinton was under investigation by the FBI for sending classified information on an unsecured server. According to the memo, Steele was paid $160,000 to conduct the investigation into Trump and the campaign.
The memo also reveals that then-senior DOJ official Bruce Ohr, who has been demoted twice this past year by the DOJ, had spoken to Steele in the September 2016. At that time, Steele had told Ohr he wanted to stop Trump from becoming president, according to the memo. Bruce Ohr’s wife Nellie Ohr worked for Fusion GPS on the alleged Russia Trump dossier and she gave her husband all her opposition research on Trump. Bruce Ohr then gave her “opposition research” to the FBI, the memo states.
“During that same time period, Ohr’s wife was employed by Fusion GPS to assist in the cultivation of opposition research on Trump,” according to the memo. “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 Ohr’s relationship with Steele and Fusion GPS was inexplicably concealed from the FISC.”
Steele was terminated by the FBI but FBI officials failed to disclose any of the information regarding Steele and his bias when they applied for the warrant to spy on Trump advisor Carter Page.
“This clear evidence of Steele’s bias was recorded by Ohr at the same time and subsequently in official FBI files – but not reflected in any of the page FISA applications,” according to the memo.
In September 2016 Michael Isikoff, a senior reporter for Yahoo News cited a “Western intelligence source,” alleging that Russian officials offered Carter Page billions of dollars to end U.S. sanctions. That ‘western official’ was Steele, according to numerous sources who spoke to this reporter. Page, who spoke to this reporter, has repeatedly denied Isikoff’s story and is suing Yahoo News, among other outlets, who reported the same news.
The FISA warrant application, however, relied on Isikoff’s story and according to the memo, “incorrectly accesses that Steele did not directly provide information to Yahoo news.”
In effect, the FBI used the Isikoff story, which used Steele’s dossier, to corroborate the dossier.
Meadows and Jordan said more information and new revelations about the DOJ and FBI’s role in the alleged Trump Russia investigation will be released in the upcoming days and weeks. The DOJ’s Inspector General Michael Horowitz, who is conducting a separate investigation into the FBI and its handling of Clinton’s use of a private server to send classified information, is expected to release his report in March.