Democratic Response to House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence Republican Memo

Converted from PDF to Word doc to post.

Republican memo is prior post.



TO: All Members of the House of Representatives

FROM: HPSCl Minority

DATE: January 29, 2018

RE: Correcting the Record – The Russia Investigations


The HPSCI Majority ‘ s move to release to the House of Representatives its allegations against the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) and the De partment of Justice (DOJ) is a transparent effort to undermine those agencies, the Special Counsel, and Congress’ investigations. It also risks public exposure of sensitive sources and methods for no legitimate purpose.

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.

In fact, DOJ and the FBI would have been remiss in their duty to protect the country had they not sought a FISA warrant and repeated renewals to conduct temporary surveillance of Carter Page, someone the FBI assessed to be an agent of the Russian government. 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

o                                          I Page’s suspicious activities in 2016, including in Moscow.

The Committee’s Minority has therefore prepared this memorandum to correct the record:


  • Christopher Steele’s raw intelligence reporting did not inform the FBl’s decision to initiate its counterintelligence investigation in late July 2016. In fact, the FBI’s closely­ held investigative team only received Steele ‘ s reporting in mid-September – more than seven weeks later . The FBI – and, subsequently, the Special Counsel’s – investigation into links between the Russian government and Trump campaign associates  has been based on troubling law enforcement and intelligence information unrelated to the “dossier .”


  • DOJ’s October 21, 2016 FISA application and three subsequent renewals carefully outlined for the Court a multi-pronged rationale for surveilling Page, who, at the time of the first application, was no longer with the Trump campaign.  DOJ detailed  Page’s past relationships with Russian spies and interaction with Russian officials during the 2016 campaign,                    . DOJ cited multiple sources to support the case for surveilling Page –                                  but made only narrow use of information from Steele’s sources about Page’s specific activities in 2016, chiefly his suspected July 2016 meeting s in Moscow with Russian                                         . In fact,

the FBI interviewed Page in March 20 I6 about his contact with Russian intelligence, the very month candidate Donald Trump named him a foreign policy advisor.

As DOJ informed the Court in subsequent renewals,

Steele’s reporting about Page’s Moscow meetings

applications did nQ! otherwise rely on Steele’s reporting, including any “salacious” allegations







about Trump, and the FBI never paid Steele for this reporting. While explaining why the FBI viewed Steele’s reporting and sources as reliable and credible, DOJ also disclosed:

  • Steele’s prior relationship with the FBI;
  • the fact of and reason for his termination as a source; and
  • the assessed political  motivation of those who hired


  • The Committee Majority’s memorandum, which draws selectively on highly sensitive classified information, includes other distortions and misrepresentations that are contradicted by the underlying classified documents, which the vast majority of Members of the Committee and the House have not had the opportunity to review – and which Chairman Nunes chose not to read 1




On January 18, 2018, the Committee Majority, during an unrelated business meeting, forced a surprise vote to release to the full House a profoundly misleading memorandum alleging serious abuses by the FBI and DOJ. Majority staff drafted the document in secret on behalf of Chairman Devin Nunes (and reportedly  with guidance and  input from Rep. Trey Gowdy), and then rushed a party-line vote without prior notice.


This was by design. The overwhelming majority of Committee Members never received DOJ authorization to access the underlying classified infonnation, and therefore could not judge the veracity of Chairman Nunes’ claims. Due to sensitive sources and methods, DOJ provided access only to the Committee’s Chair and Ranking Member (or respective designees), and  limited staff, to facilitate the Committee’s investigation into Russia’s covert campaign to influence the 2016

U.S. elections. 2  As DOJ has confirmed  publicly, it did not authorize the broader release of this

infonnation within Congress or to the public , and Chairman Nunes refused to allow DOJ and the FBI to review his document until he permitted the FBI Director to see it for the first time in HPSCI’s secure spaces late on Sunday, January 28 – IO days after disclosure to the House. 3


FBl’s Counterintelligence Investigation


In its October 2016 FISA application and subsequent renewals, DOJ accurately informed the Court that the FBI initiated its counterintelligence investigation on July 31, 20I6, after receiving information                                                            . George Papadopoulos revealed

–            that individuals linked to Russia, who took interest in Papadopoulos as a campaign foreign policy adviser, informed him in late April 2016 that Russia


_.      Papadopoulos’s disclosure, moreover, occurred against the backdrop of Russia’s aggressive covert campaign  to  influence our elections, which the FBI was already monitoring. We would later learn  in Papadopoulos’s plea that that the information the Russians could assist by anonymously releasing were thousands of Hillary Clinton’s emails . 5


DOJ told the Court the truth. Its representation was consistent with the FBl’s underlying investigative record, which current and former senior officials later corroborated in extensive








Committee testimony. Christopher Steele’s reporting, which he began to share with an FBI agent

  • through the end of October played no role in launching the FBl’s counterintelligence investigation into Russian interference and links to the Trump campaign. In fact, Steele’s reporting did not reach the counterintelligence team investigating Russia at FBf headquarters untiI mid-September 20 I6, more weeks after the FBI opened its investigation, because the probe’s existence was so closely held within the FBI.6 By then, the FBI had already opened sub-inquiries into – individuals linked to the Trump


As Committee testimony bears out, the FBI would have continued its investigation, including against- individuals, even if it had never received information from Steele, never applied fora FlSA warrant against Page, or if the FISC had rejected the application. 7


DOJ’s FISA Application and Renewals


The initial warrant application and subsequ .£l renewals received independent scrutiny and

approval by four different federal judges, thi-ee of whom were appointed by President George W. Ov\( l,’f

Bush and one by President  Ronald Reagan. DOJ first applied to the FISC on October 21, 2016       t1u w <, –: . for a  warrant to permit the FBI to initiate electronic surveillance and  physical  search of  Page for  f-t ·W  f.1>.-<i   1 90 days, consistent with FISA requirements. The Court approved three rene wals – in early

January 2017, early April 2017, and late June 2017 – which authorized the FBI to maintain surveillance on Page until late September 2017. Senior DOJ and FBI officials appointed by the Obama and Trump Administrations, including acting Attorney General Dana Boente and Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein, certified the applications with the Court.


FISA was not used to spy on Trump or his campaign. As the Trump campaign and Page have acknowledged, Page ended his formal affiliation with the campaign months before DOJ applied for a warrant. DOJ, moreover, submitted the initial application less than three weeks before the election, even though the FBJ’s investigation had been ongoing since the end of July 2016.


DOJ’s warrant request was based on compelling evidence and probable cause to believe Page was knowingly assisting clandestine Russian intelligence activities in the U.S.:


  • Page’s Connections to Russian Government and Intelligence Officials: The FBI had an independent basis for investigating Page’s motivations and actions during the campaign,

transition, and following the inauguration. As DOJ described in detail to the Court, Page had an extensive record as

1 prior to joining the Trump campaign. He resided in Moscow from 2004-

2007 and pursued business deals with Russia’s state-owned energy company Gazprom-









Page remained on the radar of Russian intelligence and the FBI. In 2013, prosecutors indicted three other Russian spies, two of whom targeted Page for recruitment. The FBI also interviewed Page multiple times about his Russian intelligence contacts, including in March 2016.10 The FBI’s concern about and knowledge of Page’s activities therefore long predate the FBl’s receipt of Steele’s information.


  • Page’s Suspicious Activity During the 2016 Campaign: The FISA applications also detail Page’s uspici •s activity after joining the Trump campaign in March

Page traveled to Moscow in July 2016, during which he gave a university commencement address – an honor usually reserved for well- known luminaries.


  • It is in this specific sub-section of the applications that DOJ refers to Steele’s reporting on Page and his alleged coordination with Russian Steele’s information about Page was consistent with the FBI’s assessment of Russian intelligence effo1ts to recruit him and his connections to Russian persons of interest.
o        In particular, Steele ‘ s sources reported that Page met separately while in Russia with Igor Sechin, a close associate of Vladimir Putin and executive chairman of Rosneft, Russia’s state-owned oil company, and Igor Divyekin, a senior Kremlin official. Sechin allegedly discussed the prospect of future U.S.-Russia energy cooperation and “an associated move to lift Ukraine-related western sanctions against Russia.” Divyekin allegedly disclosed to Page that the Kremlin possessed compromising information on Clinton (“kompromat”) and noted “t he possibility of its being released to Candidate

#1 ‘s campaign.” 11 [Note : ” Candidate #1″ refers to candidate Trump.] This closely tracks what other Russian contacts were informing another Trump foreign policy advisor, George Papadopoulos .


  • In subsequent FISA renewals, DOJ provided additional information obtained through multiple independent sources that corroborated Steele’s



















This infonnation contradicts Page’s November 2, 2017 testimony to the Committee, in which he initially denied any such meetings and then was forced to admit speaking with








Dvorkovich and meeting with Rosneft’s Sechin-tied investor relations chief, Andrey Baranov.


  • The Court-approved surveillance of Page allowed FBI to collect valuable The FISA renewals demonstrate that the FBJ collected important investigative information and leads by conducting Court-approved surveillance. For instance,




DOJ also documented evidence that Page






Page’s efforts t

sworn testimony to our Committee.


DOJ’s Transparency about Christopher Steele


Far from “omitting” material facts about Steele, as the Majority claims,17 DOJ repeatedly informed the Court about Steele’s background, credibility, and potential bias. DOJ explained in detail Steele’s prior relationship with and compens<\tion from the FBI; his credibility, reporting history, and source network; the fact of and reason for his termination as a source in late October 2016; and the likely political motivations of those who hired Steele.


  • DOJ was transparent with Court about Steele’s sourcing: The Committee Majority, which had earlier accused Obama Administration officials of improper “unmasking,” faults DOJ for not revealing the names of specific S. persons and entities in the FISA application and subsequent renewals. fn fact, DOJ appropriately upheld its longstanding practice of protecting U.S. citizen information by purposefully not ·•unmasking” U.S. person and entity names, unless they were themselves the subject ofa counterintelligence investigation. DOJ instead used generic identifiers that provided the Court with more than sufficient information to understand the political context of Steele’s research. In an extensive explanation to the Court, DOJ discloses that Steele


“was approached by an identified U.S. Person, 111 who indicated to Source #1{Steelej19 that a U.S.-based law .firm 20 had hired the ident(fied U.S. Person lo conduct research regarding Candidate #1 ‘s21 lies to Russia. (I’he identified U.S. Person and Source #1 have a long­ standing business relationship.) The identified U.S. person hired Source #I to conduct this research. The identified U.S. Person never advised Source #I as to the motivation behind the research into Candidate #1 ‘sties to Russia. The FBI speculates that the identified U.S. Person was likely looking for information that could be used to discredit Candidate 111’s campaign.” 12


Contrary to the Majority’s assertion that DOJ fails to mention that Steele’s research was commissioned by “political actors” to “obtain derogatory information on Donald Trump ‘s ties to Russia,” 23 DOJ in fact informed the Court accurately that Steele was hired by








politically-motivated U.S. persons and entities and that his research appeared intended for use “to discredit” Trump’s campaign.


  • DOJ explained the FBl’s reasonable basis for finding Steele credible: The applications correctly described Steele as

. The applications also reviewed Steele’s multi-year history of credible reporting on Russia and other matters , including information DOJ used in criminal proceedings. 24 Senior FBI and DOJ offic ials have repeatedly aflirmed to the

Committee the reliability and credibility of Steele’s reporting, an assessment also reflected in the FBI’s underlying source documents.25 The FBI has undertaken a rigorous process to vet allegations from Steele’ s reporting, including with regard to Page.26


  • The 1′,BI properly notified the FISC after it terminated Steele as a source for making unauthorized disclosures to the media. The Majority cites no evidence that the FBI, prior to filing its initial October 21, 2016 application, actually knew or should have known of any allegedly inappropriate media contact s by Steele. Nor do they cite evidence that Steele disclosed to Yahoo! details included in the FISA warrant, since the British Court filings to which they refer do not address what Steele may have said to Yahoo!.

DOJ informed the Court in its renewa ls that the FBI acted promptly to terminate Steele after learning from him (after DOJ filed the first warrant application) that he had discussed his work with a media outlet in late October. The January 2018 renewal further explained to the Court that Steele told the FBI that he made his unautho riz ed media disclosure because of his frustration at Director Corney’s public announcement shortly before the election that the FBI reopened its investigation into candidate Clinton’s email use.


  • DOJ never paid Steele for the “dossier”: The Majority asserts that the FBI had “separately authorized payment” to Steele for his research on Trump but neglects to mention that payment was cancelled and never As the FBI’s records and Committee testimony confirms, although the FBI initially considered co mpensation

‘ Steele ultimately never received payment from the FBI for

any “dossier”-relatcd information.27 DOJ accurately informed the Court that Steele had been an FBI confidential human source since., for which he was “compensated

by the FBI” – payment for previously -shared information of value unrelated to the FBl’ s Russia investig a tion. 28


Additional Omissions, Errors, and Distortions in the Maiority’s Memorandum


  • DOJ appropriately provided the Court with a comprehensive explanation of Russia’s election interference, including evidence that Russia courted another Trump campaign advisor,  Papadopoulos,  and  that  Russian  agents  previewed  their  hack  and dissemination of stolen emails. In claiming that there is ” no evidence of any cooperation or conspiracy between Page and Papadopoulos ,” 29 the Majority misstates the reason why DOJ specifically explained Russia’s courting of Papadopoulo Pa padopoulos’s interaction  with Russian agent s, coupled with real-time evidence  of  Russ ian  election  inter ference ,  provided the Court with a broader context in  which  to evaluate  Russia’  s clande  stine  activities and Page’s history and alleged contact with Russian officials. Moreover, since only Page-








.                                         no evidence of a separate conspiracy between him and

–                                         DOJ would have been negligent in omitting vital information about Papadopoulos and Russia’s concerted efforts.

  • In its Court filings, DOJ made proper use of news The Majority falsely claims that the FISA materials “relied heavily” on a September 23, 2016 Yahoo! News article by Michael Isikoff and that this article “does not corroborate the Steele Dossier because it is derived from information leaked by Steele himself.” 30 In fact, DOJ referenced Isikofrs

article, alongside another article the Majority fails to mention, not to provide separate corroboration for Steele’s reporting, but instead to inform the  Court of  Page’s  public denial of his suspected meetings in Mosco),Y, which Page also echoed in a September 25, 2016 letter to FBI Director Corney.


  • The Majority’s reference to Bruce Ohr is misleading. The Majority mischaracterizes Bruce Ohr’s role, overstates the significance of his interactions with Steele, and misleads about the timeframe of Ohr’s communication with the FBI. In late November 2016, Ohr informed the FBI of his prior professional  relationship with Steele and  information  that Steele shared with him (including Steele’s concern about Trump being compromised by Russia). He also described his wife’s contract work \\’.ith Fusion GPS, the firm that hired Steele separately. This occurred weeks after the election and more than a  month after the Court approved the initial FISA application. The Majority describes Bruce Ohr as a senior DOJ official who “worked closely with the Deputy Attorney General, Yates and later Rosenstein,” in order to imply that Ohr was somehow involved in the FISA process, but there is no indication this is the

Bruce Ohr is a well-respected career professional whose portfolio is drugs and organized crime, not counterintelligence. There is no evidence that he would have known about the Page F[SA applications and their contents. The Majority’s assertions, moreover, are irrelevant in determining the veraci_ty of Steele’s reporting. By the time Ohr debriefs with the FBI, it had already terminated Steele as a source and was independently corroborating Steele’s reporting about Page’s activities . Bruce Ohr took the initiative to inform the FBI of what he knew, and the Majority does him a grave disservice by suggesting he is part of some malign conspiracy.

  • Finally, Peter Strzok and Lisa Page’s text messages are irrelevant to the FISA application. The Majority gratuitously includes reference to Strzok and Page at the end of their memorandum, in an effort to imply that political bias infected the FBl’ s investigation and DOJ’s FISA In fact, neither Strzok nor Page s<;rved as affiants on the applications, which were the product of extensive and senior DOJ and FBI review.32 In demonizing both career professionals, the Majority accuses them of “orchestrating leaks to

the media” – a serious charge; omits inconvenient text messages, in which they critiqued a wide range of other officials and candidates from both parties; does not disclose that FBI Deputy Director McCabe testified to the Committee that he had no idea what Page and Strzok were referring to in their “insurance policy” texts; 33 and ignores Strzok’s acknowledged role in preparing a public declaration, by then Director Camey, about former

Secretary Clinton’s “extreme carelessness” in handling classified information-which greatly damaged Clinton’s public reputation in the days just prior to the presidential election.









1 Letter to HPSCI Chairman Devin Nunes, Assistant Attorney General Stephen Boyd, Department of Justice, January 24, 20I8.


2 Letter to HPSCI Chairman Devin Nunes, Assistant Attorney General Stephen Boyd, Department of Justice, January 24, 2018. DOJ also confirmed in writing to Minority Staff DOJ and FBl’s terms of review:


the Department has occommodatcd HPSC!’s oversight request by allowing repented in camera reviews of the material in an appropriate secure facility under the general stipulations that (I) the Chair (or his delegate) and the Ranking Member (or his delegate) and two staff e1ch, with appropriate security clearances, be allowed to review on beh11lf of the Committee, (2) that the review take place in a reading room set up at lhe Department, and (3) that the documents not leave the physical control of the Department, and (5) that the review opportunitiesbe bipartisan in nature. Though we originally requested that no notes be taken, in acknowledgment of a request by the Committee and recognizing that the volume of documents had increased with time, the Department eventually allowed notes to be taken to facilitate HPSCl’s review. Also, initial reviews of the material include [sic] short briefings by Department officials to put the material in con text and to provide some additional information.


Email from Stephen Boyd to HPSCI Minority Staff, January 18, 2018 (emphasis supplied).


3 Letter to HPSCI Chairman Devin Nunes, Assistant Attorney General Stephen Boyd, Department of Justice, January 24. 201.8.

s Papadopoulos’s October 5, 2017 guilty plea adds further texture to this initial tip, by clarifying that a Russian agent told Papadopoulos that “They [the Russionsj have dirt on her”; “the Russians had emails of Clinton”; “they have thousands of emails.” U.S. v. George Papadopoulos (I: I7-cr-182, District of Columbia), p. 7.

7 Under the Special Counsel’s direction, Flynn and Papadopoulos have both pleaded guilty to lying to federal investigators and are cooperating with the Special Counsel’s investigation, while Manafon and his long-time aide , former Trump deputy campaign manager Rick Gates, have been indicted on multiple counts and are awaiting trial. See U.S. v. Michael T. Flynn ( I :17-cr-232, District of Columbia); U.S. v. Paul J. Manafort , Jr., and /?ichard W. Gates Ill (I: l 7-cr-20 I, District of Columbia); U.S. v. George Papadopoulos (I: I7-cr-182, District of Columbia).


11 Department of Justice, Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court Applica tion , October 21, 2016, p.18 , Repented in subs equent n:newal applications


12 Department of Justice, Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court Application, June 29, 2017, pp. 20-21.











14                                                                                                                                           the FBI and broader Intelligence Community’s high

confidence assessment t”l’h-at-t”l’h-e”‘l!R!”‘u-s””‘si_a_n_g_o_ve_m_m_e_nt_w_asengaged in a covert interference campaign to influence the

2016 election, including that Russian intelligenceactors “co mpromised the ONC” and WikiLeaks subsequently leaked in July 2016 “a trove” of ONC emails. Department of Justice, Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court Application, October 21, 2016, pp. 6-7. Repeated and updated with new information in subsequent renewal applications. Department of Justice, Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court Application, June 29, 2017, pp. 20-21.


  1. I) Department of Justice, Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court Application, June 29, 2017, pp. 36, 46,


16 Department of Justice , Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court Application, June 29, 2017, p. 56.

17 HPSCJ Majority Memorandum, Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act Abuses at the Department of Justice and

/he Federal Bureau of Investigation, January 18, 2018, pp. 2-3 (enumerating “omissions” of fact, regarding Steele and his activities, from the Page FISA applications).


18 Glenn Simpson.


19 Christopher Steele, 20 Perkins Coie LLP. 21 Donald Trump.

22 Department of Justice, Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court Application, October 21, 2016, pp. 15-16, n. 8. Repeated in subsequent renewal applications.


23 HPSCI Majority Memorandum, Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act Abuses at the Departmentof Justice and the Federal Bureau of Investigation, January 18, 20I8, p. 2.


24 Department of Justice, Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court Application, October 21. 2016, p. 15, footnote 8. Repeated in subsequent renewal applications.


25 Interview of Andrew McCabe (FBI Deputy Director), House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence, December 19, 2017, p. 46, 100; Interview of Sally Yates (former Deputy Attorney General), House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence, November 3, 20 17, p. 16; Interview with John Carlin (former Assistant Attorney General for National Security), House Permanent Select Committee on Intellige nce, July, 2017, p. 35.

26 Jntervicw of Andrew McCabe (FBI Deputy Director), House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence, December 19, 2017, p. 100-10 I , 115.


n Interview of FBI Agent, House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence, December 20, 2017, p. 112.


18 Department of Justice, Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court Application, October 21, 2016, pp. 15-16, n. 8. Repeated in s ubsequent renewal applications.


29 HPSCI Majority Memorandum, Foreign  Intelligence S11rveif/ance  Act Abuses at the Department ofJuslice and the Federal H11reau of Inv estigation.January 18, 2018, p. 4 (“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.”)


10 HPSCI Majority Memorandum, Foreign Intelli ge nc e Surveillance Act Abuses at the Depal’lment of Justice and the Federal Bureau of Investigation, January 18, 2018, p. 2. Neither lsikoff nor Yahoo! are specifically identified in the FISA Materials, in keeping with the FBl’s general practice of not identifying U.S. persons.

31 Department of Justice, Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court Application, October 21, 2016, p. 25; Department of Justice, Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court Application, January 12. 2017, p. 3 I; Carter Page, Letter to FBI Director James Corney, September 25, 2016.                                     9







n Interview of Andrew McCabe (FBI Deputy Director), House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence, Decembi:r 19, 2017, p. 157.













































Presidential Order and House Committee Memo



February 2, 2018

The Honorable Devin Nunes

Chairman, House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence

United States Capitol

Washington, DC 20515

Dear Mr. Chairman:

On January 29, 2018, the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence (hereinafter “the Committee”) voted to disclose publicly a memorandum containing classified information provided to the Committee in connection with its oversight activities (the “Memorandum,” which is attached to this letter). As provided by clause 11(g) of Rule X of the House of Representatives, the Committee has forwarded this Memorandum to the President based on its determination that the release of the Memorandum would serve the public interest.

The Constitution vests the President with the authority to protect national security secrets from disclosure. As the Supreme Court has recognized, it is the President’s responsibility to classify, declassify, and control access to information bearing on our intelligence sources and methods and national defense. See, e.g., Dep’t of Navy v. Egan, 484 U.S. 518, 527 (1988). In order to facilitate appropriate congressional oversight, the Executive Branch may entrust classified information to the appropriate committees of Congress, as it has done in connection with the Committee’s oversight activities here. The Executive Branch does so on the assumption that the Committee will responsibly protect such classified information, consistent with the laws of the United States.

The Committee has now determined that the release of the Memorandum would be appropriate. The Executive Branch, across Administrations of both parties, has worked to accommodate congressional requests to declassify specific materials in the public interest. However, public release of classified information by unilateral action of the Legislative Branch is extremely rare and raises significant separation of powers concerns. Accordingly, the Committee’s request to release the Memorandum is interpreted as a request for declassification pursuant to the President’s authority.

The President understands that the protection of our national security represents his highest obligation. Accordingly, after bringing in Overland Park accident lawyer he has directed lawyers and national security staff to assess the declassification request, consistent with established standards governing the handling of classified information, including those under Section 3.1(d) of Executive Order 13526. Those standards permit declassification when the public interest in disclosure outweighs any need to protect the information. The White House review process also included input from the Office of the Director of National Intelligence and the Department of Justice. Consistent with this review and these standards, the President has determined that declassification of the Memorandum is Appropriate.

Based on this assessment and in light of the significant public interest in the memorandum, the President has authorized the declassification of the Memorandum. To be clear, the Memorandum reflects the judgments of its congressional authors. The President understands that oversight concerning matters related to the Memorandum may be continuing. Though the circumstances leading to the declassification through this process are extraordinary, the Executive Branch stands ready to work with Congress to accommodate oversight requests consistent with applicable standards and processes, including the need to protect intelligence sources and methods.


Donald F. McGahn II

Counsel to the President

cc: The Honorable Paul Ryan

Speaker of the House of Representatives

The Honorable Adam Schiff

Ranking Member, House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence


Declassified by order of the President — February 2, 2018

January 18, 2018

To: HPSCI Majority Members

From: HPSCI Majority Staff

Subject: Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act Abuses at the Department of Justice and the Federal Bureau of Investigation


This memorandum provides Members an update on significant facts relating to the Committee’s ongoing investigation into the Department of Justice (DOJ) and Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) and their use of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) during the 2016 presidential election cycle. 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.

Investigation Update

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.

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)(1)), 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.

Due to the sensitive nature of foreign intelligence activity, FISA submissions (including renewals) before the FISC are classified. As such, the public’s confidence in the integrity of the FISA process depends on the court’s ability to hold the government to the highest standard particularly as it relates to surveillance of American citizens. However, the FISC’s rigor in protecting the rights of Americans, which is reinforced by 90-day renewals of surveillance orders, is necessarily dependent on the government’s production to the court of all material and relevant facts. This should include information potentially favorable to the target of the FISA application that is known by the government. In the case of Carter Page, the government had at least four independent opportunities before the FISC to accurately provide an accounting of the relevant facts. However, our findings indicate that, as described below, material and relevant information was omitted.

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.

  1. 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.
  2. 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.

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.

  1. 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.
  2. b) Steele’s numerous encounters with the media violated the cardinal rule of source handling—maintaining confidentiality—and demonstrated that Steele had become a less than reliable source for the FBI.

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.

  1. 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.

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.