Democrats Rebuttal FISA Memo—What It Says (And What It Doesn’t)

The back and forth battle between House Republicans and House Democrats over the FBI and DOJ’s handling of the Russian collusion investigation continues as Democrats have now released their rebuttal to the Republicans FISA memo.

In the ten-page document, Democrats attempt to explain away the many examples of wrongdoing that the Republicans FISA memo was able to expose.

The question is, was their rebuttal satisfactory, or is the evidence that the FBI and DOJ acted in an inappropriate, partisan manner as strong as ever?

What the FISA Memo Alleged

Before we can dive into the Democrats’ rebuttal memo, a quick recap of what the Republican’s FISA memo alleged might be useful. The FISA memo – authored by House Republican Devin Nunes – detailed examples of partisan collusion between the FBI, DOJ, and Clinton campaign in order to open up an investigation into the Trump campaign in what one FBI agent described as an “insurance policy” against a Trump Presidency.

The FISA memo alleged that the basis of the FISA warrants obtained on members of Trump’s campaign was a piece of opposition research called the Steele Dossier which was funded by Clinton and the DNC. It also alleged that the judge in the FISA court was not informed that the information he had been presented was, in fact, opposition research and that the FBI had authorized payment to Steele for putting together a dossier on Trump.

The Democrats Response to the FISA Memo

One of the key points that Democrats tried to make in their rebuttal to the FISA memo was the fact that the judge who granted the FISA warrant on Carter Page was, in fact, made aware that much of the evidence he had been presented was opposition research paid for by the DNC and the Clinton campaign as an attempt to discredit Trump. The Democrats’ rebuttal memo was able to show that this information was indeed provided to the judge – buried in a footnote in one location in the document.

Democrats also fought back against the allegation that the FBI paid Steele for his research, saying that the payment was canceled, and they argued that the DOJ only made “narrow use” of the Steele Dossier and instead relied more heavily on “additional information obtained through multiple independent sources”. It’s this last point where the Democrats’ argument is the weakest, though, as the rebuttal memo does not challenge the fact that former FBI director Andrew McCabe testified to the House Committee that the FBI would not have sought a FISA warrant on Carter Page had it not been for the Steele Dossier.

What it All Means

Perhaps the biggest takeaway from the combined information of the Republican’s FISA memo and the Democratic rebuttal is that there’s still a long way to go before we are going to be able to close the door on this case. Rep. Schiff – the author of the rebuttal memo – said that his memo should “put to rest” any concerns about the way the DOJ and FBI handled the Russia investigation. However, this is far from being the case.

By burying the fact that the evidence they presented to the FISA court was opposition research in a single footnote, the FBI clearly made an attempt to hide and downplay this fact. Assuming the judge who granted the warrant on Carter Page did read the footnote, all this really proves is that the judge as well as the FBI was complicit in using faulty opposition research as the basis to grant surveillance warrants on a member of an active Presidential campaign.

The Democratic rebuttal memo also did not address the evidence of partisan collusion within the FBI, as witnessed by the texts between FBI agent Peter Strzok and Lisa Page where Strzok described the Russia investigation as a politically motivated “insurance policy” designed to bring down Trump in the event he won the Presidency.

Democrats assert that the Steele Dossier played a limited role in the evidence that was presented to the FISA court, however, they gave little reason for anyone to believe this is actually true. The facts still point to the reality that Steele’s research comprised the bulk of the evidence that was presented to the FISA court, especially given McCabe’s testimony before the House Committee. The Democratic rebuttal memo’s silence on this critical point is arguably the most telling takeaway from the entire document.

~ American Liberty Report

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