Democrats release 10-page rebuttal to GOP memo

Democrats on the House Intelligence Committee released a memo Saturday rebutting claims made in a Republican memo distributed three weeks ago. The Democrats say that surveillance warrants requested for former Trump campaign adviser Carter Page were based on more than information solely obtained from the infamous Steele dossier.

The 10-page memo offers insight into one of the most secretive processes in government, directly quoting from the text of a secret surveillance warrant application to show that the Justice Department had disclosed that some evidence sprang from political opposition research intended to discredit a political campaign, contradicting a key GOP claim.

Democrats say their memo, spearheaded by ranking member Adam Schiff, D-Calif., was written as a rebuttal to provide greater context to a Republican memo that was released earlier this month, which outlines abuses by the FBI and the Justice Department against the Trump campaign, particularly in the write-up and approval of Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act warrant applications to spy on ex-Trump foreign policy adviser Carter Page.

A key point in the GOP memo, put together by Nunes and staff, claims Justice Department and FBI officials used "Trump dossier" author Christopher Steele was played an important role in the initial and all three renewal FISA applications to spy on Page. The dossier from Steele, an ex-British spy, is filled with salacious and unverified claims about President Trump's ties to Russia. A crucial source of funding for the dossier, Hillary Clinton's campaign and the Democratic National Committee, as well as Steele's anti-Trump bias were also left out by the DOJ and FBI, the GOP memo alleged, addressing a major area of concern of Republicans and Trump supporters.

The Democratic memo makes the case the that agencies covered themselves appropriately.

The White House immediately put out a statement Saturday upon the Democratic memo's release which said Trump supported the release of the Democrats' memo in the interest of transparency, but claims it is a "politically driven document" which "fails to answer serious concerns raised by the Majority’s memorandum."

“While the Democrats’ memorandum attempts to undercut the President politically, the President supported its release in the interest of transparency. Nevertheless, this politically driven document fails to answer serious concerns raised by the Majority’s memorandum about the use of partisan opposition research from one candidate, loaded with uncorroborated allegations, as a basis to ask a court to approve surveillance of a former associate of another candidate, at the height of a presidential campaign," said a statement from White House Press Secretary Sarah Sanders.

"As the Majority’s memorandum stated, the FISA judge was never informed that Hillary Clinton and the DNC funded the dossier that was a basis for the Department of Justice’s FISA application," Sanders' statement continues. "In addition, the Minority’s memo fails to even address the fact that the Deputy FBI Director told the Committee that had it not been for the dossier, no surveillance order would have been sought. As the President has long stated, neither he nor his campaign ever colluded with a foreign power during the 2016 election, and nothing in today’s memo counters that fact."

The Democratic memo says that contrary to the GOP memo's assertion, the DOJ did inform the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court "accurately that Steele was hired by politically-motivated U.S. person and entities and that his research appeared intended for use 'to discredit' Trump's campaign." It adds that the FBI "properly" notified FISC after it terminated Steele as a source for making "unauthorized disclosures to the media," and that the GOP memo cites no evidence to support the notion that the FBI, prior to the initial October 2016 application, knew or should have known of any alleged inappropriate contact with the media. Also, the DOJ noted in its FISA renewals that Steele has been terminated as an FBI source along with the corroborative sources, the Democratic memo says.

Ultimately, the memo says the DOJ "met the rigor, transparency, and evidentiary basis needed to meet FISA's probably requirement."

Read the full Democrat memo below:

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