The House Intelligence Committee on Friday released a controversial GOP intelligence memo alleging missteps by the FBI and the Justice Department in the investigation into alleged Russian meddling in the 2016 presidential election and its possible ties to President Donald Trump’s campaign officials.
The release came four days after the committee voted to release the memo. Trump approved of its release without redactions Friday.
Here are six things to know about the memo:
1. What exactly is the memo?
The memo was written Jan. 18 by staff of the House Intelligence Committee, chaired by Rep. Devin Nunes, R-California. It was written as part of the committee’s investigation into the use of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act by FBI and Justice Department officials investigating Russian election meddling.
2. What is it about?
Former Trump foreign policy adviser Carter Page and the infamous -- and mostly unverified -- dossier compiled by former British intelligence officer Christopher Steele, for the most part.
In the memo, officials claimed that investigators failed to provide “an accounting of relevant facts” when they sought and received a FISA order authorizing electronic surveillance of Page in October 2016. Officials renewed the warrant three times, each renewal covering 90 days.
3. Steele dossier ‘formed an essential part of the Carter Page FISA application
Officials said the dossier, compiled by Steele and funded in part by the Democratic National Committee and the Hillary Clinton presidential campaign, “formed an essential part of the Carter Page FISA application.” None of the applications submitted to get the FISA warrant on Page mentioned the fact that the dossier was funded by Democrats, according to the memo.
Officials also questioned the veracity of the dossier and the reliability of Steele as a source for the FBI, noting that he spoke with members of the media multiple times -- a violation of “the most cardinal rule of source handling -- maintaining confidentiality” -- and made comments disparaging of Trump.
4. Information on George Papadopoulos led to FBI investigation
Also mentioned in the FISA application was former Trump campaign foreign policy adviser George Papadopoulos, who pleaded guilty in October to lying to federal authorities investigating alleged Russian meddling and its possible ties to the Trump campaign.
Information about Papadopoulos is what “triggered the opening of an FBI counterintelligence investigation in late July 2016 by FBI agent Pete Strzok,” officials said in the memo. Strzok was removed from the investigation after anti-Trump text messages between himself and FBI attorney Lisa Page surfaced. Critics have said that the messages showed a clear bias in the investigation.
5. What was Page’s role in the Trump presidential campaign?
Page wasn’t a part of the Trump presidential campaign on Oct. 21, 2016, when authorities got the warrant to surveil him.
Then-candidate Trump announced that Page would serve as part of his team in March 2016, according to PBS Newshour. Five months later, in August, Trump named him an informal adviser to the campaign as questions surfaced about a trip Page took to Moscow in July 2016. By September, Page was no longer part of the Trump campaign.
THIS. IMPORTANT CARTER PAGE DATES:— Lisa Desjardins (@LisaDNews) February 2, 2018
3/21/16: Trump says Page is on campaign team
8/5/16: Trump campaign says Page is informal adviser
9/24/16: Trump campaign denies Page has a role. He is out.
10/21/16 (NEW): DOJ/FBI seek FISA warrant.
6. Who decided to release the memo?
In a letter released by officials Friday, White House counsel Donald McGahn said the memo was released after a review by lawyers and national security staff, including officials with the Office of the Director of National Security and the Justice Department.
“To be clear, the memorandum reflects the judgments of its congressional authors,” McGahn wrote. “The president understands that oversight concerning matters related to the memorandum may be continuing.”
About the Author
Credit: John Spink / John.Spink@ajc.com