A senior White House official accused Rep. Adam Schiff (D-CA) of intentionally sabotaging the House Intel Committee's Democratic response to the four-page "FISA memo" prepared by staffers for Committee chairman Devin Nunes.
Appearing on NBC's "Meet The Press," White House legislative director Marc Short said that Schiff included confidential sources and methods in his 10-page rebuttal which he knew would require redaction - setting the stage for Democrats to cry foul.
“We believe Congressman Schiff intentionally put in there methods and sources that he knew would need to be redacted. And if we redacted it, there would be an outcry that says the White House is trying to edit it,” Short said. “So, we said take it back, work with the FBI, clean it up and we'll release it.”
Democrats will likely point to the fact that the White House ignored DOJ warnings not to release the Nunes memo without redactions, calling it "extraordinarily reckless" without a DOJ review. That said, the FBI reportedly wanted names redacted from the Nunes memo, while the White House claims that sources and methods are divulged in the Schiff memo.
The Democrats sent a very political and long response memo which they knew, because of sources and methods (and more), would have to be heavily redacted, whereupon they would blame the White House for lack of transparency. Told them to re-do and send back in proper form!— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) February 10, 2018
Rep. Schiff responded, tweeting "Mr. President, what you call "political" are actually called facts, and your concern for sources and methods would be more convincing if you hadn't decided to replease the GOP memo ("100%") before reading it and over the objections of the FBI.
Mr. President, what you call “political” are actually called facts, and your concern for sources and methods would be more convincing if you hadn’t decided to release the GOP memo (“100%”) before reading it and over the objections of the FBI. https://t.co/L48kAQOztL— Adam Schiff (@RepAdamSchiff) February 10, 2018
In fact, the FBI did review the Nunes memo and only wanted names redacted, according to journalist Sara Carter:
BREAKING: @FBI Director Christopher Wray and DOJ wants all names redacted from #FISAMemo putting pressure on White House and House Intelligence Committee, Government officials say ... is releasing names a threat to national security?— Sara A. Carter (@SaraCarterDC) February 1, 2018
Marc Short effectively confirmed this on "Meet The Press," telling the panel that the FBI's concern over the Republican memo wasn't over sources and methods, rather, the agency didn't want the names of its agents involved in "FISAgate" exposed.
“There were not sources and methods of concern in that memo. There was concern of us releasing it because they didn't want the same transparency,” Short said of the FBI.
Democrats say that the four-page memo released by GOP members of the House Intelligence Committee paints an incomplete picture of the FBI's conduct while engaging in counterintelligence operations against then-candidate Donald Trump during the 2016 election.
A few relevant points in the timeline...
Recall that Donald Trump was considered a joke when he announced his run for presidency. In fact, WikiLeaks emails reveal that the DNC elevated Trump to help Clinton win - thinking there's no way he would win in a final runoff vs. Hillary.
In April, 2016, the FBI is contacted by the DNC to report that they had been hacked. They hire cybersecurity firm CrowdStrike, which determines it was Russian intelligence who conducted the breach
Perhaps sensing that the DNC and Clinton were about to be majorly exposed, and that Trump actually had a chance of winning the White House, Fusion GPS begins working for the Clinton campaign and the DNC in April, 2016 to provide opposition research on then-candidate Donald Trump. The deal between Clinton, the DNC and Fusion GPS is sealed by Marc Elias, a lawyer representing the DNC and Clinton.
Two months later...
June 15, 2016, Hacker "Guccifer 2.0" takes credit for the DNC hack. Later analysis would disprove this, as the CrowdStrike failed (or chose not) to catch that the DNC files were copied at 22.6 MB/s, all but confirming that the files had to have been copied locally by an inside source. Many have speculated that DNC IT staffer Seth Rich, whose murder is still unsolved, was the source of the emails provided to WikiLeaks.
Five days later...
June 20, 2016, former UK spy Christopher Steele - commissioned by Fusion GPS, (which was commissioned by Clinton and the DNC), files "The Dossier" - the first of 17 memos which relies on senior Kremlin officials and makes salacious and unverified claims against Donald Trump.
Of note - the FBI had worked with Steele for many years, however they severed their relationship after Steele went to the press with allegations contained within his dossiers.
On October 19, 2016, the FBI used Steele's unverified dossier to obtain a Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) warrant to spy on one-time Trump campaign advisor Carter Page. The warrant allowed the agency to also surveil anyone page was in communication with - including members of the Trump campaign.
January 11, 2017 - with Trump having won the election, BuzzFeed publishes the Steele memo, and the country has been steeped in "Russiagate" ever since.
We now know:
- Steele's unverified dossier played a critical role in obtaining approval from the FISA court to carry out surveillance of Carter Page and "unmask" members of the Trump campaign
- The FBI used a Yahoo News article written by Michael Isikoff to support the FISA application - however the Isikoff article contained information provided by Steele. In other words, the FBI made it appear to the FISA court that two separate sources supported their application, when in fact they both came from Steele
(interestingly, Isikoff also wrote a hit piece to discredit an undercover FBI informant who testified to Congress last week about millions of dollars in bribes routed to the Clinton Foundation by Russian nuclear officials. Small world!)
- Steele was paid by Clinton, the DNC and the FBI for the same information
- The FBI and DOJ made minimal disclosures to the FISA court about the dossier's political origins - mentioning in a footnote that a law firm paid for it
"FBI noted to a vaguely limited extent the political origins of the dossier. In footnote 8 the FBI stated that the dossier information was compiled pursuant to the direction of a law firm who had hired an "identified U.S. person" -- now known as Glenn Simpson of Fusion GPS." -"Grassley Memo"
- Despite terminating their relationship with Steele over leaking to the media, the FBI vouched for Steele's reputation in the FISA application in order to overcome the fact that most of the dossier's contents were unable to be verified.
- Signing off on the FISA applications for the FBI were James Comey (three times) and Andrew McCabe. Signing off for the DOJ were Sally Yates, Data Boente and current Deputy AG Rod Rosenstein
We look forward to the eventual release of the Schiff memo - however it's clear that the Democrats are simply going to point to the redactions and say "see, they covered up our proof!"
Let's see if Schiff's gambit pays off...