FBI Makes Last-Ditch Effort To Block Release Of Secret Spy Memo
The FBI expressed “grave concerns” on Wednesday over a controversial surveillance memo that could be released to the public this week.
In a rare move, the FBI issued an on-the-record statement claiming that the memo, which was crafted by Republicans on the House Intelligence Committee, contains “material omissions of fact that fundamentally impact the memo’s accuracy.”
The four-page memo reportedly alleges that the Justice Department and FBI failed to provide information regarding the infamous Steele dossier in an application for a Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) warrant taken out against former Trump campaign adviser Carter Page.
The warrant was granted in Sept. 2016, just after Page left the Trump campaign. He is a prominent figure in the dossier, which was written by former British spy Christopher Steele and financed by the Clinton campaign and DNC. (RELATED: Rod Rosenstein Reportedly Renewed Spy Warrant On Carter Page)
Republicans have raised questions about the FISA application because it reportedly cited information from the Steele dossier. They say that’s a problem because Steele’s dossier remains largely unverified.
The memo also reportedly reveals that shortly after taking office last April, Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein renewed Page’s FISA warrant. Some Trump critics see the memo’s mention of Rosenstein as part of a strategy to fire him in order to undercut the Russia investigation being led by Special Counsel Robert Mueller.
Rosenstein is currently overseeing the probe.
The FBI and Justice Department have scrambled over the past week to prevent the release of the memo, which committee chairman Devin Nunes and South Carolina Rep. Trey Gowdy put together along with Republican committee staffers.
The Justice Department sent a letter to Nunes last week calling the potential release of the memo “extremely reckless.”
Amid complaints from DOJ and Democratic lawmakers, Gowdy urged Nunes to meet with FBI Director Christopher Wray to discuss the memo. The pair met on Sunday.
On Monday, the committee voted along party lines to release the document to the public, barring any objections from the White House. President Trump signaled on Tuesday that he plans to release the report. He was caught on an open microphone following Tuesday’s State of the Union address saying that there is a “100 percent” chance that the memo will be made public.
In its statement, the FBI denied allegations of FISA abuse.
“The FBI takes seriously its obligations to the FISA Court and its compliance with procedures overseen by career professionals in the Department of Justice and the FBI. We are committed to working with the appropriate oversight entities to ensure the continuing integrity of the FISA process,” the statement reads.
The bureau acknowledged that Wray was granted a “limited opportunity” to review the memo on Sunday.
“As expressed during our initial review, we have grave concerns about material omissions of fact that fundamentally impact the memo’s accuracy.”
Update: Nunes issued a blistering statement after publication of this article in response to the FBI’s remarks. He said:
“Having stonewalled Congress’ demands for information for nearly a year, it’s no surprise to see the FBI and DOJ issue spurious objections to allowing the American people to see information related to surveillance abuses at these agencies. The FBI is intimately familiar with ‘material omissions’ with respect to their presentations to both Congress and the courts, and they are 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. Once the truth gets out, we can begin taking steps to ensure our intelligence agencies and courts are never misused like this again.”