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Tag: House Intelligence Committee

Dems’ Rebuttal Contradicts Key Republican Claims in Controversial Memo

Rep. Adam Schiff.

By Steve Neavling
Ticklethewire.com

A declassified Republican memo that President Trump claimed “vindicates” him is full of “distortions and misrepresentations,” according to a Democratic rebuttal that undercuts the GOP’s core arguments.

The rebuttal, released late Saturday afternoon, includes key FBI documents that contain the exact wording used by the bureau to gain authority to spy on a former Trump campaign operative. 

The Republican majority on the House Intelligence Committee released its memo in January, claiming the FBI misled a secret surveillance court by failing to mention the origins of a controversial dossier used as evidence to secure a warrant to surveil Carter Page, who was under investigation for being a Russian operative. Trump and some Republicans used the memo, which was partially funded by the Democrats, to bolster their claim that the FBI was on a partisan mission to destroy Trump’s candidacy.

But the Democratic rebuttal, which Trump initially declined to release, offers a more detailed and nuanced explanation of the FBI’s handling of the dossier and suggests the FISA court knew Steele was an anti-Trump source. In the rebuttal, Democrats cited a key line in the bureau’s documents that state “the FBI speculates” Steele was hired to find “information that could be used to discredit Campaign #1’s (Trump’s) campaign. That contradicts the key claim by Republicans and Trump who alleged the FBI failed to mention the political nature of the dossier.

“This is a pretty thorough demolition,” Julian Sanchez, an expert on surveillance at the libertarian Cato Institute, wrote on Twitter about the rebuttal memo.

The rebuttal also points out that Page was under investigation long before the dossier was used to extend the warrant because the FBI feared he was a Russian operative.

Rep. Adam Schiff, the top Democrat on the House Intelligence Committee, said on Sunday that the dossier undermines the argument that the bureau is part of the “deep state.”

“I’m not surprised the White House tried to bury this memo response as long as they could,” Schiff said on CNN’s “State of the Union.” ‘’But it’s important for the public to see the facts, that the FBI acted appropriately in seeking a warrant on Carter Page, that they are not part of some deep state as the president would like the public to believe. ”

Still, Trump slammed the memo in a tweet Sunday: “The Democrat memo response on government surveillance abuses is a total political and legal BUST. Just confirms all of the terrible things that were done. SO ILLEGAL!”

Bannon Met Several Times This Week with Special Counsel Investigating Trump, Russia

Former White House chief strategist Steve Bannon

By Steve Neavling
Ticklethewire.com

Former White House chief strategist Steve Bannon met several times this week with the special counsel team investigating President Trump and his campaign’s alleged ties to Russia.

The former Breitbart news chief, who continued today to defy a subpoena to testify before a House committee about the Russia and Trump probe, was interviewed for about 20 hours by the team led by Robert Mueller, NBC News reports

Details of the interview are unclear, but Bannon is considered a key witness in the investigation because he was a close confident of Trump and played key roles in both the campaign and the presidential administration.

In an explosive book published last month, Bannon blasted the campaign’s handling of Russia and suggested the Mueller investigation will focus on money laundering. He also said it was “treasonous” for some in the Trump campaign, including the president’s son, to meet with a group of Russians at Trump Tower in June 2016.

Bannon, who resigned in August, is facing contempt charges for continuing to refuse to answer questions by the House Intelligence Committee.

CNN reports that Bannon met briefly with the committee today and told the panel he had been instructed by the Trump administration to invoke executive privilege. 

Schiff: House Committee Presented with ‘Ample Evidence’ Trump Campaign Colluded with Russia

Rep. Adam Schiff.

By Steve Neavling
Ticklethewire.com

Adam Schiff, the top Democrat on the House intelligence committee, said there is “ample evidence” that the public has not yet seen to show Donald Trump’s campaign colluded with Russia and that the president obstructed justice.

“There is already, in my view, ample evidence in the public domain on the issue of collusion if you’re willing to see it,” Rep. Adam Schiff, D-Calif, told reporters, USA Today reports.  “If you want to blind yourself, then you can look the other way.”

Schiff said the House committee has been provided with an “abundance” of classified information in closed-door meetings to indicate Trump’s campaign colluded with Russia.

Schiff pointed to various meetings between Trump’s campaign and people with ties to Russia who pledged to provide “dirt” on Hillary Clinton.

“All of this is evidence of collusion,” said Schiff, a former federal prosecutor. “Now, I’ve never said that there was proof beyond a reasonable doubt. That’s for Bob Mueller to decide. But to say there’s no evidence of collusion, you’d have to ignore all this.”

Other Stories of Interest

Trump Says Nunes, Who Spearheaded Memo’s Release, Has Makings of ‘Great American Hero’

President Trump

By Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

Republican Devin Nunes, the California congressman who set off a political firestorm by spearheading the controversial release of a secret, much-disputed memo drafted by GOP staff, “may someday” be considered a “Great American Hero,” President Trump said Monday.

Trump, who claimed over the weekend that the GOP-drafted memo “totally vindicates” him in the growing special counsel investigation, tweeted that Nunes is “a man of tremendous courage and grit” who “may someday be recognized as a Great American Hero for what he has exposed and what he has had to endure!”

As chairman of the House Intelligence Committee, Nunes caught widespread criticism, including from members of his own party, for taking the highly unusual step of declassifying intelligence-gathering information over fierce opposition from the FBI and Justice Department. The memo, which the DOJ and committee Democrats vigorously disputed, alleges the intelligence agencies abused their surveillance powers by spying on Trump campaign adviser, Carter Page, who was suspected of being a Russian agent.

Rep. Devin Nunes, R-Calif.

Trump’s gushing tweet came just hours before the House Intelligence Committee was voted unanimously to support the release of a classified memo drafted by Democrats to counter the surveillance abuse claims.

Now Donald Trump has five days to decide whether he wants to block the document’s release. If he objects to the disclosure, the full House has the option of accepting the decision or trying to override the president in what certainly would set the stage for an ugly, high-stakes standoff with Democrats, some Republicans and federal law enforcement agencies.

A Trump spokesman said the president won’t make a decision until he and a national security team review the memo, which could undermine the president’s narrative that the special counsel probe is part of a “witch hunt” to remove him from office.

Trump Slams Leading Memo Critic Ahead of Push to Release Democrats’ Rebuttal

President Trump

By Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

President Trump woke up this morning ready for war.

Two days after he claimed a much-disputed memo “totally vindicates” him in the special counsel investigation, Democrats on the House Intelligence Committee plan to fight tonight for the release of their rebuttal memo, which strongly disputes the Republican-drafted document. 

At stake is a Trump-driven narrative, fueled by the memo’s release last week, that claims the FBI and Justice Department are bent on destroying the president and therefore cannot be trusted to oversee Robert Mueller’s investigation into whether the president obstructed justice or his campaign colluded with Russia to interfere with the 2016 presidential election.

The argument stems from the committee’s GOP-drafted memo, which Republicans released last week over the strong objections of the FBI and DOJ. The narrative is vital to shed doubt on the integrity of the special counsel probe, which is picking up steam and has reached the doors of the White House.

Some committee Republicans, including Chairman Devin Nunes, R-California, have expressed a willingness to release the rebuttal once it’s properly vetted.

On Twitter this morning, Trump launched a preemptive strike at Democratic Congressman Adam Schiff, the committee’s most vocal critic of the Republican memo, which suggests the FBI and DOJ abused their authority to spy on former Trump campaign adviser, Carter Page, who was suspected of being a Russian agent.

“Little Adam Schiff, who is desperate to run for higher office, is one of the biggest liars and leakers in Washington, right up there with Comey, Warner, Brennan and Clapper!” Trump tweeted. “Adam leaves closed committee hearings to illegally leak confidential information. Must be stopped!”

The president didn’t elaborate.

Even if the committee approves the release of the rebuttal, Trump would have five days to review the document and decide whether it should be declassified and released.

If the president objects, the committee has the option of sending the memo to the full House for another vote.

Trump Blasts Leadership of FBI, DOJ Today As He Plans to Release Ahead Politically Divisive Memo

By Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

President Trump blasted “the top leadership and investigators” of the FBI and Justice Department this morning, just hours before he is expected to publicly release a secret, much-disputed memo that alleges the two agencies abused their power to spy on one of the president former aides during the 2016 presidential election.

”The top Leadership and Investigators of the FBI and the Justice Department have politicized the sacred investigative process in favor of Democrats and against Republicans – something which would have been unthinkable just a short time ago. Rank & File are great people!” Trump tweeted early Friday. 

Republicans on the House Intelligence Committee voted along party lines Monday to approve the release of the memo written by GOP staff over the objections of the Justice Department, which warned the document’s disclosure would be “extraordinarily reckless.” In a rare move Wednesday, the president’s FBI expressed “grave concerns about material omissions of fact that fundamentally impact the memo’s accuracy.”   

Democrats argue the unprecedented release of confidential material by Republicans is a part of a misleading and desperate effort to undermine the special counsel investigation of Trump, his former and current aides and Russian officials who interfered with the U.S. election.

Even Republican House Speaker Paul Ryan warned GOP members to resist exaggerating the memo’s findings and not to use it to undermine the Robert Mueller investigation, which so far has indicted four former Trump aides.

But it appears, especially from Trump’s tweet this morning, that the president and his allies plan to weaponize the politically divisive memo as part of a larger campaign to erode trust in the intelligence agencies overseeing the Mueller probe, which now is focusing on whether the president obstructed justice by trying to fire or silence top members of the FBI and Justice Department.

NYT: Release of Controversial Memo Resembles ‘A Partisan Witch Hunt’

By Editorial Board
New York Times

So this is what a partisan witch hunt really looks like.

In a demonstration of unbridled self-interest and bottomless bad faith, the Trump White House and its Republican minions in Congress are on the cusp of releasing a “memo” that purports to document the biggest political scandal since Watergate. To pull it off, they are undermining the credibility of the law enforcement community that Republicans once defended so ardently, on the noble-sounding claim that the American public must know the truth.

Don’t fall for it.

Reports suggest that the three-and-a-half-page document — produced by the staff of Representative Devin Nunes (R-White House), who somehow still leads the House Intelligence Committee despite his own record of shilling for President Trump, and who is supposed to be recused from these matters — has nothing to do with truth or accountability. Rather, it appears to be misleading propaganda from people who are terrified by the Russia investigation and determined to derail it by any means necessary.

Mr. Nunes’s cut-and-paste job ostensibly shows that anti-Trump F.B.I. investigators conspired to trick a federal intelligence court into granting them a warrant to spy on a former Trump campaign adviser, Carter Page, because of his Russian connections — in that way corrupting the entire Russia investigation from the start. How did the investigators manage this feat? By relying on a dossier prepared by a former British intelligence agent, Christopher Steele, but hiding from the court that Mr. Steele’s work was being funded by Democrats, including Hillary Clinton’s campaign, and thus was hopelessly biased.

There’s so much deception and obfuscation going on here that it’s hard to know where to start.

To read more click here. 

Democrats Claim Republicans Secretly Doctored Trump-Russia Memo

Rep. Adam Schiff.

By Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

The top Democrat on the House Intelligence Committee has accused Republicans of sharing with the White House a “secretly altered” version of a controversial, much-disputed memo alleging the Justice Department and FBI improperly surveilled a former Trump campaign aide during the 2016 election campaign.

Rep. Adam Schiff, D-Calif., said the memo, written by Republicans, was altered after the committee voted along party lines to release the document despite warnings from the Justice Department and FBI to keep in the information classified. 

Schiff said the committee members were “never apprised of, never had the opportunity to review, and never approved” revisions made by Republicans before handing off the memo to the president, who is expected to approve the corrosive document’s release.

Schiff is demanding that the memo be withdrawn until a new vote can be held on the revised document, which some Republicans want to use to suggest an anti-Trump bias in the special counsel investigation of the president and Russia.

A spokesman the committee’s chairman, Republican Devin Nunes, claims Schiff is exaggerating the altercations, saying only minor change, including grammatical fixes, were made to the document.

Schiff countered that the changes were “material and substantive” and not approved by the committee, which Democrats say is a violation of congressional practices.

Schiff made the claims in a letter to Nunes.

The White House is expected to approve the memo’s release Friday morning, but claims that the document was doctored may delay the public disclosure.