'Political and legal BUST': White House comes out swinging against the Democratic rebuttal memo

  • President Donald Trump and the White House struck back at Democrats on the House Intelligence Committee after they released their rebuttal memo to the so-called Nunes memo.
  • Trump said the rebuttal was "a total political and legal BUST" and described actions by the Department of Justice that were "SO ILLEGAL."
  • He also suggested the FBI purposefully concealed facts about the Steele dossier's funding from the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court while seeking a warrant to monitor former Trump campaign adviser Carter Page.
  • There is no evidence that the DOJ or the FBI did anything illegal. Material evidence contained in the Democratic memo also indicates that the DOJ acted according to protocol by informing the court that the dossier was funded by a political entity.


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President Donald Trump railed against the declassified memo that Democrats on the House Intelligence Committee released on Saturday.

The memo was written by ranking member Adam Schiff and was drafted as a rebuttal to a Republican memo released earlier this month. The latter was authored by House Intelligence Committee Chair Devin Nunes and alleged that the FBI and Department of Justice abused their surveillance authority when applying for a Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act warrant targeting former Trump campaign adviser Carter Page in October 2016.

"The Democrat memo response on government surveillance abuses is a total political and legal BUST," Trump tweeted. "Just confirms all of the terrible things that were done. SO ILLEGAL!"

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A look at Washington, D.C. the day Rep. Devin Nunes' memo was released
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A look at Washington, D.C. the day Rep. Devin Nunes' memo was released
WASHINGTON, DC - FEBRUARY 02: A six-page memo alleging misconduct by senior FBI officials investigating President Donald Trump's 2016 campaign was released to the public February 2, 2018 in Washington, DC. Assembled by Committee staff of House Intelligence Committee Chairman Devin Nunes (R-CA), the formerly classified memo alleging FBI misconduct was released to the public Friday with permission from President Donald Trump. (Photo by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)
WASHINGTON, DC - FEBRUARY 02: A person leaving the secure offices of the House Intelligence Committee bolts upstairs after a six-page memo alleging misconduct by senior FBI officials investigating President Donald Trump's 2016 campaign was released to the public February 2, 2018 in Washington, DC. Assembled by Committee staff of House Intelligence Committee Chairman Devin Nunes (R-CA), the formerly classified memo alleging FBI misconduct was released to the public Friday with permission from President Donald Trump. (Photo by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)
A Republican�memo, written under the direction of House Intelligence Chairman�Devin Nunes, is arranged for a photograph at the U.S. Capitol in Washington, D.C., U.S., on Friday, Feb. 2, 2018. FBI and Justice Department officials got a warrant to spy on a Trump campaign associate by misleading a surveillance court judge, House Republicans contend in a�newly released�memo�that Democrats have dismissed as a contrived account intended to protect the president. Photographer: Alex Wroblewski/Bloomberg via Getty Images
WASHINGTON, DC - FEBRUARY 02: A person enters the secure offices of the House Intelligence Committee after a six-page memo alleging misconduct by senior FBI officials investigating President Donald Trump's 2016 campaign was released to the public February 2, 2018 in Washington, DC. Assembled by Committee staff of House Intelligence Committee Chairman Devin Nunes (R-CA), the formerly classified memo alleging FBI misconduct was released to the public Friday with permission from President Donald Trump. (Photo by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)
WASHINGTON, DC - FEBRUARY 02: The FBI headquarters is seen on February 2, 2018 in Washington, DC. President Donald Trump contemplating the possible release of a highly controversial Republican memo alleging the FBI abused its surveillance tools. (Photo by Mark Wilson/Getty Images)
A Republican�memo, written under the direction of House Intelligence Chairman�Devin Nunes, is arranged for a photograph at the U.S. Capitol in Washington, D.C., U.S., on Friday, Feb. 2, 2018. FBI and Justice Department officials got a warrant to spy on a Trump campaign associate by misleading a surveillance court judge, House Republicans contend in a�newly released�memo�that Democrats have dismissed as a contrived account intended to protect the president. Photographer: Alex Wroblewski/Bloomberg via Getty Images
WASHINGTON, DC - FEBRUARY 02: The FBI headquarters is seen on February 2, 2018 in Washington, DC. President Donald Trump contemplating the possible release of a highly controversial Republican memo alleging the FBI abused its surveillance tools. (Photo by Mark Wilson/Getty Images)
WASHINGTON, DC - FEBRUARY 02: A camera is seen mounted to the FBI headquarters, on February 2, 2018 in Washington, DC. President Donald Trump contemplating the possible release of a highly controversial Republican memo alleging the FBI abused its surveillance tools. (Photo by Mark Wilson/Getty Images)
WASHINGTON, DC - FEBRUARY 02: The FBI headquarters is seen on February 2, 2018 in Washington, DC. President Donald Trump contemplating the possible release of a highly controversial Republican memo alleging the FBI abused its surveillance tools. (Photo by Mark Wilson/Getty Images)
A Republican�memo, written under the direction of House Intelligence Chairman�Devin Nunes, is arranged for a photograph at the U.S. Capitol in Washington, D.C., U.S., on Friday, Feb. 2, 2018. FBI and Justice Department officials got a warrant to spy on a Trump campaign associate by misleading a surveillance court judge, House Republicans contend in a�newly released�memo�that Democrats have dismissed as a contrived account intended to protect the president. Photographer: Alex Wroblewski/Bloomberg via Getty Images
WASHINGTON, DC - FEBRUARY 02: A person enters the secure offices of the House Intelligence Committee after a six-page memo alleging misconduct by senior FBI officials investigating President Donald Trump's 2016 campaign was released to the public February 2, 2018 in Washington, DC. Assembled by Committee staff of House Intelligence Committee Chairman Devin Nunes (R-CA), the formerly classified memo alleging FBI misconduct was released to the public Friday with permission from President Donald Trump. (Photo by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)
WASHINGTON, DC - FEBRUARY 02: The FBI headquarters is seen on February 2, 2018 in Washington, DC. President Donald Trump contemplating the possible release of a highly controversial Republican memo alleging the FBI abused its surveillance tools. (Photo by Mark Wilson/Getty Images)
A Republican�memo, written under the direction of House Intelligence Chairman�Devin Nunes, is arranged for a photograph at the U.S. Capitol in Washington, D.C., U.S., on Friday, Feb. 2, 2018. FBI and Justice Department officials got a warrant to spy on a Trump campaign associate by misleading a surveillance court judge, House Republicans contend in a�newly released�memo�that Democrats have dismissed as a contrived account intended to protect the president. Photographer: Alex Wroblewski/Bloomberg via Getty Images
WASHINGTON, DC - FEBRUARY 02: The FBI headquarters is seen on February 2, 2018 in Washington, DC. President Donald Trump contemplating the possible release of a highly controversial Republican memo alleging the FBI abused its surveillance tools. (Photo by Mark Wilson/Getty Images)
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He tacked on: "Dem Memo: FBI did not disclose who the clients were - the Clinton Campaign and the DNC. Wow!"

There is no indication that any of the actions outlined in the Republican or Democratic memos were illegal.

The DOJ first applied for a warrant on October 21, 2016. The application was subsequently renewed — after being signed off on by multiple judges and senior DOJ officials — on three separate occasions, in early January 2017, early April 2017, and late June 2017. The renewed warrant allowed the FBI to continue monitoring Page until September 2017.

That the FISA court and multiple senior officials — including those who had been appointed by Trump — approved multiple renewals of the Page application indicates the FBI had substantial evidence to justify extending its surveillance of the former campaign adviser.

Meanwhile, Trump's second tweet appeared to suggest that the DOJ deliberately misled the FISA court by concealing the politically-motivated funding behind the so-called Steele dossier. But information contained in the Democratic memo indicates that the agency took appropriate precautions to follow protocol.

The Steele dossier is an explosive and unverified set of memos alleging Trump-Russia collusion that was compiled by former MI6 officer Christopher Steele.

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Putting the Trump-Russia timeline into perspective
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Putting the Trump-Russia timeline into perspective
June 7: The 2016 primary season essentially concludes, with both Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton as the presumptive party nominees
June 9: Donald Trump Jr. — along with Jared Kushner and former campaign chair Paul Manafort — meets with Kremlin-connected lawyer Natalia Veselnitskaya.
June 9: Trump tweets about Clinton's missing 33,000 emails
July 18: Washington Post reports, on the first day of the GOP convention, that the Trump campaign changed the Republican platform to ensure that it didn't call for giving weapons to Ukraine to fight Russian and rebel forces
July 21: GOP convention concludes with Trump giving his speech accepting the Republican nomination
July 22: WikiLeaks releases stolen emails from the Democratic National Committee
July 25: Democratic convention begins
July 27: In final news conference of his 2016 campaign, Trump asks Russia: "If you're listening, I hope you're able to find the 30,000 emails that are missing"
August 4: Obama CIA Director John Brennan confronts his Russian counterpart about Russia's interference. "[I] told him if you go down this road, it's going to have serious consequences, not only for the bilateral relationship, but for our ability to work with Russia on any issue, because it is an assault on our democracy," Brennan said on "Meet the Press" yesterday.
October 4: WikiLeaks' Julian Assange says his organization will publish emails related to the 2016 campaign
October 7: WikiLeaks begins releasing Clinton Campaign Chair John Podesta's emails
October 7: Department of Homeland Security and the Director of National Intelligence release a statement directly saying that Russia is interfering in the 2016 election
October 31: "This WikiLeaks is like a treasure trove," Trump says on the campaign trail
November 4: "Boy, I love reading those WikiLeaks," Trump says from Ohio.
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It was originally funded by a group of Republicans who opposed Trump during the Republican primaries. After Trump became the party's nominee, Hillary Clinton's campaign and the Democratic National Committee hired the Perkins Coie law firm, which in turn retained the opposition-research firm Fusion GPS to fund the dossier's production.

According to both the Schiff memo and previous news reports, the DOJ gave the FISA court enough information which made clear that the dossier was produced as opposition-research against a candidate in the 2016 campaign. Moreover, the Democratic memo contains specific portions of the DOJ's explanation to the court regarding the dossier's funding which make clear that it was commissioned as opposition-research.

The reason the DOJ did not outline specific names and identities was that it wanted avoid "unmasking" individuals and entities unless they were the subject of a counterintelligence investigation, the Democratic memo said.

The White House released a statement slamming the rebuttal memo following its release, saying the document "fails to answer" why the DOJ used the Steele dossier "as a basis" for the Page FISA warrant application.

The Steele dossier was not the basis for the application. The DOJ provided ample evidence to the court to support its warrant request, much of which related to Page's ties to Russian officials that stretch back to the early 2000s and the Russians' repeated attempts to recruit Page as an unwitting agent, per the Democratic memo. The document also contained redacted sections which outlined additional evidence the agency handed over to the court regarding Page.

Its reliance on the dossier was limited to a narrow portion of the document which contained allegations regarding Page's trip to Moscow in July 2016.

"While the Democrats' memorandum attempts to undercut the president politically, the president supported its release in the interest of transparency," the White House said in its statement.

It added: "In addition, the Minority's memo fails to even address the fact that the Deputy FBI Director told the Committee that had it not been for the dossier, no surveillance order would have been sought."

The statement was in reference to the Nunes memo's claim that former FBI Deputy Director Andrew McCabe said in his congressional testimony last year that the Page warrant would not have been sought without information in the dossier.

But multiple Democrats on the panel alleged Nunes' characterization of McCabe's testimony was misleading. Sources also told Business Insider and other media outlets, including CNN and The Daily Beast, that the memo fundamentally mischaracterized McCabe's comments, which have not been publicly released.

It's unclear why the Democratic rebuttal did not contain information regarding McCabe's testimony. Schiff's representatives did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Trump later tweeted: "'Russians had no compromising information on Donald Trump' @FoxNews Of course not, because there is none, and never was. This whole Witch Hunt is an illegal disgrace...and Obama did nothing about Russia!"

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SEE ALSO: Democrats release their declassified rebuttal to the Nunes memo

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