Democrats on the House Intelligence Committee, led by Rep. Adam Schiff, have released their response to the Republican FISA memo, albeit with redactions due to the amount of classified information contained in the document intended for public release. While Democrats make assertions that the FBI and DOJ did nothing wrong, they fail to support those claims with pertinent evidence.
The memo claims that the “FBI and DOJ officials did not “abuse” the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) process, omit material information, or subvert this vital tool to spy on the Trump campaign.” Their evidence is outlined in four bullet points that Democrats used to prove that the DOJ “met the rigor, transparency, and evidentiary basis needed to meet FISA’s probable cause requirement, by demonstrating:”
- contemporaneous evidence of Russia’s election interference;
- concerning Russian links and outreach to Trump campaign officials;
- Page’s history with Russian intelligence; and
- [redacted] Page’s suspicious activities in 2016, including in Moscow.
To debunk the Democrat’s memo, it’s first important to understand the straw man arguments that are made in the document. The warrant was to surveil Carter Page, not the Trump campaign so all evidence would have to be on Carter Page’s activities. The first two bullet points have nothing to do with Mr. Page.
While members of Congress from both party’s agree that there was “evidence of Russia’s election interference,” neither Memo shows evidence, nor do they even allege, that Carter Page had anything to do with it.
The second bullet point also has nothing to do with Page – it’s about George Papadopoulos. The entire paragraph of supporting statements is about Papadopoulos and Russians. This information was used to open the Russian collusion investigation, but had no bearing on the seeking of a warrant on Mr. Page.
The supporting information for the third bullet point is about Carter Page and the Russian government’s attempts, unsuccessfully, to recruit him. While the information is factual, it’s irrelevant to the warrant. Most of the supporting information describes Page’s business dealings in Moscow from 2004-2007. The only recent mentions in this area of the memo state that the FBI interviewed Page in 2013 and again in 2017. No allegations of Russian interference or illegal activity by Mr. Page are included nor alleged.
The last bullet-point is likely the only one of value to the FISA court. The DOJ would have needed strong evidence to support the claim of “Page’s suspicious activities in 2016.” Unfortunately, it appears that this is where the Steele Dossier, which contains wholly unsubstantiated and salacious facts, was used to make the case to a FISA judge.
First are the mention of meetings with two Russians: Igor Sechin, head of Russia’s gas company, and Igor Divyekin, a high-ranking member of the Putin government. These meetings are alleged in the Steele Dossier but never verified. The FBI has admitted under oath that the information in the Steele Dossier had not been verified at the time that the warrants were issued. The Democrat memo goes on to say that “independent sources” confirmed “Steele’s reporting,” but the sourcing section is completely redacted so we don’t know what sources corroborated it and from the Democrats’ own statement we don’t know which part of Steele’s reporting was corroborated. Corroboration does not equal verification. Just because two people say something is true, does not make it so.
The Democrats also made the point that the Russian collusion investigation was started before the FBI received the Steele Dossier. That is matter-of-fact and undisputed. The Republican memo doesn’t state otherwise. The concern is that the dossier was used to get a FISA warrant on Carter Page, not that it was the reason the FBI started looking into George Papadopoulos – an epic straw man argument.
Equally of interest is why the Democrats went to such length to make the dossier appear to be verified when in their memo they state that information in the dossier was “made only narrow use of” in the FISA application. Then again, remember that Deputy Director Andrew McCabe, whose sudden departure from the FBI sparked intrigue, told members of Congress that without the dossier, they would never have sought a warrant.
The Democrats’ memo is full of straw man arguments and unsupported claims. It’s just 10-pages of far-left propaganda.