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Accuracy • Independence • Integrity

August 15, 2018   |   Ithaca, NY

Opinion

National Recap: Democrats release response to Nunes memo

Congressional Democrats released a 10-page document Feb. 24 in response to the Nunes memo, a document that details the FBI’s alleged abuses of power while investigating President Donald Trump’s ties to Russia.

The Nunes memo, prepared by Rep. Devin Nunes (R-Calif), alleges that the FBI used unverified material from British Intelligence Officer Christopher Steele to ask the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court for authorization to surveil Carter Page, a member of Trump’s presidential campaign.

The Democrats’ document, which was prepared by Rep. Adam Schiff (D-Calif), ranking member of the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence, calls the Nunes memo a “transparent effort to undermine” the FBI, the Department of Justice and special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation into the possible collusion between Trump’s presidential campaign and Russian officials. Specifically, the Democrats’ document argues that the FBI’s request for a Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act warrant on Page was justified and that the reasons for Steele’s research were properly disclosed.

Schiff’s document was originally blocked by Trump and Donald F. McGahn II, Trump’s lawyer, because it “[contained] numerous properly classified and especially sensitive passages.” McGahn said the president would consider allowing its release if certain passages were revised to “mitigate the risks.” Portions of the document were redacted before its release Feb. 24.

The White House said in a statement that Trump supported the release of Schiff’s memo for the sake of transparency, but the statement also called it a “politically driven document” that did not respond to the original questions raised by the Nunes memo.

Trump responded on Twitter to the release of the document shortly after its release, denying the points laid out by Schiff.

“The Democrat memo response on government surveillance abuses is a total political and legal BUST,” Trump said. “Just confirms all of the terrible things that were done. SO ILLEGAL!”

Republican members of the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence released a rebuttal memo shortly after the release of Schiff’s document. In their rebuttal, the Republicans argue that the FBI seems to be avoiding informing the court about Steele’s connections to both Hillary Clinton’s presidential campaign and to the Democratic National Convention.

“The FISA application relies on a convoluted statement buried in a footnote,” the Republican rebuttal states. “This is clearly an attempt to avoid informing the Court, in a straightforward manner that the DNC and Clinton campaign paid for the dossier.”