The much talked-about GOP memo regarding the FBI and their conduct regarding a FISA warrant targeting former Trump campaign adviser Carter Page is finally out, and it’s a doozy. The memo confirmed rumors that Republicans were complaining about how the FBI omitted information from their warrant application regarding their reliance on the dossier compiled by Christopher Steele for Fusion GPS, paid for by the Democratic National Committee. While most of it wasn’t all that consequential, the latter part of the memo contained a bombshell about connections between the Justice Department and Fusion GPS.
The memo claims that the Steele dossier was “essential” to getting a FISA warrant, and cites FBI Deputy Director Andrew McCabe‘s testimony before the House Intelligence Committee, where he allegedly said that no warrant would have been obtained against Page if not for the dossier. Now Democrats (and the FBI) have accused the GOP of taking parts out of context, but if this is true, it is especially troubling given that the source of the dossier was anti-Trump, and the DOJ knew it.
The memo asserts that Steele himself had admitted to then-Associate Deputy Attorney General Bruce Ohr that he “was desperate that Donald Trump not get elected.” That bias was not disclosed to the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court (FISC). While I’ve discussed how the mere fact that the DNC paid for Steele’s research probably wouldn’t affect the validity of the FISA warrant, their knowledge that Steele himself had personal beef with Trump could be different. Especially if you add that on top of the claim that McCabe said no warrant would have been obtained against Page if not for the dossier.
In addition to this supposed bias on Steele’s part, the dossier has been widely reported as unverified. The DOJ itself has refused to address whether or not they’ve reached a final determination on whether they can confirm the details in the dossier. Therefore, the reliance on the dossier to get a FISA warrant is suspect, to put it mildly.
In United States v. Glover, the Seventh Circuit ruled that a warrant against a gang member was bad and had to be tossed out because the government didn’t disclose that their informant was in a rival gang and had lied in the past. While Steele had been a reliable FBI source in the past, if he had admitted bias against Trump, and the fact that his research was funded by Democrats trying to take down a rival campaign, should have been disclosed to the court.
Besides the allegations of bias, the fact that the DOJ won’t even say if they confirmed that the dossier was even truthful is much more worrisome. If the dossier’s contents indeed have not been verified, but the FBI relied on it anyway, then they themselves would have had to make a misrepresentation to suggest that it supported the necessary probable cause to get the warrant in the first place.
The memo also says that the FBI’s reliance on Steele’s research was not limited to just the dossier. Ohr’s wife was working for Fusion GPS at the time, and gave him the company’s research, which Ohr then turned over to the FBI, according to the memo.
Basically, the memo paints a picture of a government law enforcement working hand in hand with the DNC in order to take down Donald Trump. No wonder the DOJ, FBI, and Democrats were so vehemently against it.
Now, the preemptive strike against the memo from its opponents is that it picks and chooses classified information to create an allegedly distorted picture of what happened. The FBI said in a statement:
With regard to the House Intelligence Committee’s memorandum, the FBI was provided a limited opportunity to review this memo the day before the committee voted to release it. As expressed during our initial review, we have grave concerns about material omissions of fact that fundamentally impact the memo’s accuracy.
Democrats have their own memo that they would like to release, but the GOP-controlled committee has not allowed it. It remains to be seen what, if any, information gets out to counter this narrative.
[Image via CNN screengrab]