Trump Triumphs with Release of House Intel Memo

Former FBI director James Comey speaks during a Senate Intelligence Committee hearing on Capitol Hill, Thursday, June 8, 2017, in Washington. (AP Photo/Andrew Harnik)

The House Intelligence Committee memo on abuse of power by the Federal Bureau of Investigation appeared just after 12:00 p.m. Eastern time, and American political life never will be the same. The House Republicans make a persuasive if not prima facie case that senior FBI officials used a fake dossier paid for by the Democrats to get a court order for electronic surveillance of the Trump campaign. If the charge sticks, America will have a real-life instance of the sort of scenario found in pulp thrillersโ€”a rogue intelligence agency operating in the darkness and abusing its power to manipulate elections.

Senior FBI and CIA officials (as well as a number of prominent Democrats) accused Trump of endangering national security by releasing the memo. This recalls the old Soviet-era joke about the Radio Yerevan listener who calls into ask whether itโ€™s a crime to call Brezhnev an idiot. The answer: โ€œYes, because itโ€™s a state secret.โ€

This is political plutonium.

Here are the basic facts:

Under the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA), the U.S. counterintelligence service cannot surveil American citizens without a court order. The FBI obtained such a warrant in October 2016 to eavesdrop on Trump campaign volunteer Carter Page.

The evidence that FBI presented to the FISA court came from the now infamous โ€œSteele Dossier,โ€ an amalgam of Russian-supplied rumors collected by a former British intelligence agent that among other things claimed that Trump had engaged in perverse acts with Russian prostitutes.

The Steele dossier was compiled at the behest of the Washington consulting firm Fusion GPS, and paid for by the law firm Perkins Coie on behalf of the Democratic National Committee. In other words, it was a political hit job paid for by Trumpโ€™s opponents. The FBI concealed this information when applying for the FISA warrant.

The memo adds, โ€œThe Carter Page FISA application also cited extensively a September 23, 2016 Yahoo News article by Michael Isikoff, which focuses on pageโ€™s July 2016 trip to Moscow. This article does not corroborate the Steele dossier because it is derived from information leaked by Steele himself to Yahoo Newsโ€ฆ.Steele has admitted in British court filings that he met with Yahoo Newsโ€”and several other outletsโ€”in September 2016 at the direction of Fusion GPS [the firm paid by the Democrats to get dirt on Trump]. Perkins Coie [hired by the Democratic National Committee] was aware of Steeleโ€™s initial media contacts because they hosted at least one meeting in Washington, D.C. in 2016 with Steele and Fusion GPS where this matter was discussed.โ€

In other words, the Democratic National Committee and the Clinton campaign paid for a pile of inflammatory rumors about Trump, which it then sold to the press. The FBIโ€”in full knowledge of thisโ€”then took the press reports to a court as โ€œevidenceโ€ to obtain permission to surveil the Trump campaign.