Despite objections by law enforcement and intelligence officials, the Republican-controlled House Intelligence Committee has released a memo alleging misconduct by FBI and Justice Department officials in the investigation of Russian meddling in the 2016 election.
The memo commissioned by House Intelligence Committee Chairman Devin Nunes, R-Calif., was publicly released Friday after President Donald Trump agreed to declassify the document.
The four-page document accuses the FBI and the Justice Department of omitting material and relevant information when seeking an order authorizing electronic surveillance of Trump campaign adviser Carter Page.
Republican members of the committee said the findings detailed in the memo “raise concerns with the legitimacy and legality of certain DOJ and FBI interactions with the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court,” which authorized the surveillance.
The findings also represent a “troubling breakdown of legal processes established to protect the American people from abuses related to the FISA process,” the GOP members said.
The memo claims the essential part of the FISA application was a dossier compiled by former British Spy Christopher Steele alleging cooperation between Trump’s presidential campaign and the Russian government.
While the dossier was compiled on behalf of the Democratic National Committee and Hillary Clinton’s presidential campaign, the memo states the application did not mention that political actors were involved.
The Republican memo also highlights comments Steele made to then-Associate Deputy Attorney General Bruce Ohr admitting his feelings against then-candidate Trump.
Steele purportedly told Ohr 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,” the memo says.
The FISA application did extensively cite a Yahoo News article focused on Page’s July 2016 trip to Moscow, although the memo claims the article was derived from information leaked by Steele.
“Steele’s numerous encounters with the media violate the cardinal rule of source handling—-maintaining confidentiality-—and demonstrated that Steel had become a less than reliable source for the FBI,” the memo states.
The FBI expressed concerns about releasing the memo, but Nunes argued that the American people have a right to know when officials in crucial institutions are abusing their authority for political purposes.
Nunes said in a statement he hopes releasing the memo will shine a light on an alarming series of events so lawmakers can make reforms.
In remarks ahead of the release of the memo, Trump called the alleged bias a “disgrace” and said certain people should be “ashamed of themselves.”
However, many of the claims in the memo are being disputed by the Democratic members of the House Intelligence Committee.
The Democrats argued that the memo makes several serious mischaracterizations about the FISA application and criticized Republicans for refusing to allow the release of their response.
“The premise of the Nunes memo is that the FBI and DOJ corruptly sought a FISA warrant on a former Trump campaign foreign policy adviser, Carter Page, and deliberately misled the court as part of a systematic abuse of the FISA process,” the Democrats said in a statement.
“As the minority memo makes clear, none of this is true,” they added. “The FBI had good reason to be concerned about Carter Page and would have been derelict in its responsibility to protect the country had it not sought a FISA warrant.”
The Democrats called the release of the GOP memo a “shameful effort” to discredit the FBI and the Justice Department and undermine special counsel Robert Mueller’s ongoing Russia investigation.