5 Things to Know About the Democrats’ Rebuttal to Nunes’ Memo
Things you need to know about the document and what it means
The House Intelligence Committee officially released the Democratic rebuttal to the controversial GOP memo on Saturday.
It purported to show the improper use of surveillance during the 2016 presidential campaign by the FBI and Department of Justice.
This news comes follows revelations that the White House told Democratic lawmakers on Feb. 9 to revise their rebuttal memo regarding the Russia investigation.
This included stipulations that the document required certain redactions before it can be made public.
Earlier this month, Trump made public a memo written by Republicans on the committee that detailed alleged surveillance abuses by the FBI and the Justice Department in its probe into Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election.
Trump stirred controversy with his assertion that the memo “totally vindicates” him of any wrongdoing.
In light of the countermemo's release, here are some key takeaways.
There were several redactions in the rebuttal memo released on Saturday.
Previously, California Rep. Adam Schiff, the top Democrat on the committee, said he is wary that Trump could make redactions in the document for “political purposes.”
However, Rep. Mike Conaway, R-Texas, has said the memo contains information that he would be “uncomfortable” about seeing released without redaction by the White House. The redacted bits likely refer to sources of information and methods of intelligence gathering.
‘Bolster’ FBI credibility
The rebuttal released on Saturday claims that officials at the FBI and Justice Department “did not abuse the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) process, omit material information, or subvert this vital tool to spy on the Trump campaign.”
The original memo said ex-British spy Christopher Steele’scontroversial dossier – a 35-page document compiled for the firm Fusion GPS – was the catalyst for a surveillance warrant to spy on Carter Page, a former foreign adviser to Trump.
The surveillance warrant and renewals did not mention that the dossier was paid for, at least in part, by the Democratic National Committee and the campaign for Hillary Clinton, according to the memo spearheaded by Chairman Devin Nunes, R-Calif.
But Rep. Eric Swalwell, D-Calif., told Fox News the Democrats’ document “bolsters” the FBI’s credibility in the Russia probe. He said the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court was given a “voluminous amount” of evidence to obtain the warrant to spy on Page.
The Democratic rebuttal released on Saturday claims that the FBI had an "independent basis" for investigating Page's motivations. The rebuttal also asserts that the DOJ "repeatedly informed the Court about Steele's background, credibility, and potential bias."
Contradicting the Nunes memo
Swalwell also said the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act court was aware of the “likely political motivation” behind the dossier – a direct contradiction of what the Republicans’ memo detailed.
“The court weighed that and still granted the application,” Swalwell said. “There was a bias, but the evidence was so overwhelming, the application was granted anyway.”
Schiff said previously that his party’s memo would “help inform the public of the many distortions and inaccuracies in the majority memo.”
"Our extensive review of the initial FISA application and three subsequent renewals failed to uncover any evidence of illegal, unethical, or unprofessional behavior by law enforcement and instead revealed that both the FBI and DOJ made extensive showings to justify all four requests," Schiff said in a statement on Saturday.
Further politicization of the probe
The Democrats’ memo is largely seen as a rebuttal to the GOP's document, intensifying the partisan divide on the House Intelligence Committee.
After the rebuttal document's release, the White House called it a "politically driven document" that fails to answer the concerns raised by the Republican memo.
"As the Majority’s memorandum stated, the FISA judge was never informed that Hillary Clinton and the DNC funded the dossier that was a basis for the Department of Justice’s FISA application," Press Secretary Sarah Sanders said in a statement.
"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," she added.
And ahead of the document's release, Rep. Tom Rooney, R-Fla., said the memo was not accurate for “a million different reasons,” Politico reported.
Review by FBI and DOJ
The Democrats’ memo was shared with the FBI and Justice – something Republicans did not do before releasing their document, Schiff said, according to Politico.