WASHINGTON — The FBI slammed the four-page memo prepared by staff of House Intelligence Committee Chairman Devin Nunes (R-Calif.) as containing “material omissions of fact” while maintaining that they take FISA warrants seriously.
The memo, which the committee voted along party lines Monday to declassify, reportedly alleges that the FBI used the Steele dossier to renew FISA monitoring of Trump campaign adviser Carter Page without letting the judge who signed off on the order know that the Clinton campaign paid for the latter half of Fusion GPS’ investigation with former MI6 operative Christopher Steele.
Former Director of National Intelligence James Clapper has said that some of the details in the Steele dossier have been corroborated as true, while other details have not been corroborated or disproven. The dossier said Page, who has admitted to traveling to Russia during the presidential campaign but said it was for personal reasons, met with Russia’s state-owned oil company Rosneft during his Trump campaign tenure.
The White House has a few days left to review the memo and decide if it should remain classified. If they do nothing by the end of the five-day review period, the memo would go public.
FBI Director Christopher Wray went to Capitol Hill on Sunday to look at the memo for the first time. On Monday, the committee’s GOP majority shot down a request from Ranking Member Adam Schiff (D-Calif.) to first bring the FBI and Justice Department before the committee to address lawmakers’ concerns.
“The FBI takes seriously its obligations to the FISA Court and its compliance with procedures overseen by career professional in the Department of Justice and the FBI,” the Bureau said in a statement today. “We are committed to working with the appropriate oversight entities to ensure the continuing integrity of the FISA process.”
“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,” the statement continued. “As expressed during our initial review, we have grave concerns about material omissions of fact that fundamentally impact the memo’s accuracy.”
Bloomberg reported earlier that Wray told the White House he opposes the memo’s release. White House chief of staff John Kelly told Fox News Radio today that national security lawyers in the administration are reviewing the memo “slicing and dicing it,” but he also predicted that the memo would be released “pretty quick, I think, and the whole world can see it.” He didn’t indicate how much of the memo may be redacted in the review.
The Washington Post reported that Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein, like Wray a Trump appointee, warned Kelly on Monday before the committee vote that releasing the memo could compromise classified information; Wray was also at the meeting.
President Trump was caught on a hot mic after the State of the Union address telling Rep. Jeff Duncan (R-S.C.) that “don’t worry, 100 percent” the memo would be released.
White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders told CNN this morning that “there’s always a chance” Trump changes his mind.
“I can’t make that judgement. But I do know that we’re going through that process. I know that will be part of what’s taking place at the White House today,” she said.
Sanders said that “as of last night prior to and immediately after the State of the Union” Trump had not yet seen the memo.
UPDATE 3:30 p.m. EST: Nunes responded in a statement that the FBI and Justice Department objections are “spurious” and said the Bureau is “welcome to make public, to the greatest extent possible, all the information they have on these abuses.”
“Regardless, it’s clear that top officials used unverified information in a court document to fuel a counter-intelligence investigation during an American political campaign,” he said. “Once the truth gets out, we can begin taking steps to ensure our intelligence agencies and courts are never misused like this again.”