Judiciary Democrat's rebuttal to Nunes memo accuses House GOP of obstructing Russia probe

The top Democrat on the House Judiciary Committee is refuting the Republican memo alleging FBI abuses of surveillance...

Posted: Feb 4, 2018 11:31 PM
Updated: Feb 4, 2018 11:31 PM

The top Democrat on the House Judiciary Committee is refuting the Republican memo alleging FBI abuses of surveillance authority, accusing House Republicans of being "part and parcel to an organized effort to obstruct" special counsel Robert Mueller's Russia probe.

New York Rep. Jerry Nadler released an analysis Saturday as a rebuttal to the Republican memo, spearheaded by House Intelligence Chairman Devin Nunes, which was released Friday.

Nadler, who has viewed the classified materials that form the basis of the Republican memo, argues the FISA court had "probable cause" to believe Page was "an agent of foreign power" and that nothing in the Nunes memo proves that the government did not have enough evidence beyond the dossier to seek a FISA warrant.

The Nunes memo accuses the FBI of abusing its authority in applying for a FISA warrant to conduct surveillance on former Trump campaign adviser Carter Page. It also alleges that then-Deputy FBI Director Andrew McCabe told the House Intelligence Committee that the surveillance warrant would not have been sought without the disputed opposition research dossier on Trump and Russia written by ex-British intelligence officer Christopher Steele.

Nadler's analysis called that claim "deliberately misleading and deeply wrong on the law," noting that the Nunes memo itself says the FBI counterintelligence investigation was triggered by information on Trump campaign foreign policy adviser George Papadopoulos in July 2016, before the Page FISA application was filed.

Papadopoulos had come under investigation for contacts with a professor connected to the Russian government who had promised dirt on Hillary Clinton. That investigation was opened months before the Page application, after the FBI received information from the Australian government, CNN has reported.

"Indeed, we have every indication that the government made its application to the court in good faith," Nadler wrote in the six-page rebuttal obtained by CNN.

Papadopoulos pleaded guilty in October to making a false statement to the FBI after he lied about his interactions with foreign officials close to the Russian government.

NBC News first reported the contents of Nadler's analysis.

Nadler's document echoes remarks by California Rep. Adam Schiff, the ranking Democrat on the Intelligence Committee, who told reporters Friday that the Republican memo "cherry picks" information from McCabe's testimony.

Schiff argued that memo does not represent what McCabe told the House Intelligence Committee, and he said McCabe told the panel the "genesis of the investigation" did not begin with the dossier.

The Steele dossier alleges that Page met senior Russian officials as an emissary of the Trump campaign and discussed quid-pro-quo deals relating to sanctions, business opportunities and Russia's interference in the election. After Page took a trip to Russia in July 2016, the FBI grew concerned that he had been compromised by Russian operatives, US officials briefed on the matter told CNN.

Page says he never cut any political deals with the Kremlin and says there was nothing illegal in his interactions with Russian officials.

"The brave and assiduous oversight by Congressional leaders in discovering this unprecedented abuse of process represents a giant, historic leap in the repair of America's democracy," Page said in a statement Friday.

Democrats on the House Intelligence Committee, led by Schiff, have drafted their own 10-page memo in rebuttal to the Nunes memo, but the committee voted Monday to block its release.

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