Summary of Facts
On February 2, 2018, a Top Secret document addressed to the House Permanent Select Committee about the FISA abuses by the DOJ and FBI was declassified by the order of President Trump, through Devin Nunes, Chairman of the House Permanent Select Committee.
This document was presented the HPSCI on January 18, 2018.
The purpose of the memo is to inform the HPSCI members on facts indicating abuse of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act by the Department of Justice and the Federal Bureau of Investigation.
On October 21, 2016, the DOJ sought and received an authorization for the electronic surveillance on Carter Page form the FISC. Carter Page is a US citizen. On that date, he was also a volunteer advisor to the Trump presidential campaign.
James Comey, the then Director, signed three FISA applications in question on behalf of the FBI and the Deputy Director Andrew McCabe signed one application to be in accordance with the statute that states the FISA order must be renewed every 90 days. In addition, then DAG Sally Yates, then DAG Dana Boente and then DAG Rod Rosenstein each signed the application renewals on behalf of the DOJ.
A dossier compiled by Christopher Steele, acting on behalf of the Democratic National Committee (DNC) and the Hillary Clinton presidential campaign, formed an essential part of the Carter Page FISA application.
Steele was paid over $160,000 by the DNC and the Clinton campaign, via the law firm Perkins Coie and the research firm Fusion GPS, to obtain derogatory information on Trump’s ties with Russia.
Neither the initial application, not the subsequent 90-day renewals disclose the role that DNC and the Clinton campaign had to play in the Steele dossier.
In October 2016, Steele was suspended and then terminated as the FBI source for unauthorized disclosure to the media of his relationship with the FBI.
However, before and even after his termination, Steele maintained contact with DOJ via then-Associate Deputy Attorney General Bruce Ohr, a senior DOJ official, who with Deputy Attorneys General Yates and General Rosenstein.
Ohr’s wife was employed by research firm Fusion GPS to assist in finding out damaging evidence on Trump’s ties with Russia. Ohr then provided these research findings, funded by the DNC and the Clinton campaign, to the FBI. The Ohrs’ relationship with Steele and Fusion GPS was completely hidden from the FBI.
While the Nunes memo explains in details various other findings, the above is the highlight of the most important facts that were uncovered.
Electronic surveillance is always a dicey issue. It brings to the debate table the issue of personal privacy of US citizens, as well the need for surveillance in the interest of national security. The US laws in its various amendments and statues attempt to strike a balance between privacy and security. The 50 U.S.C 1805 (d) (1) mandating the 90-day renewals of surveillance applications is to the same effect. While agencies can submit an application for the electronically surveillance of a US citizen, in this case, it was to be approved by both the FBI and the DOJ, and to be renewed every 90 days.
The application is expected to disclose all related information and refrain from intentionally hiding facts that could cause the application, or renewal, to be denied. Those in positions in the DOJ and the FBI are expected to thoroughly investigate the facts surrounding the applications and renewals before approving them. And at all times every person involved in the process, each government official, is expected to act in the best interest of the country, follow the law, uphold the privacy rights of US citizens while keeping aside their own personal opinions, political stance, and private gain.
However, on analyzing and understanding the facts presented in the Nunes memo there appear to be multiple failures by multiple people in charge. This raises some grave questions. Questions on the misuse of the system, questions on the purpose of the FBI and DOJ roles in the FISA processes, questions on vested interests, questions on pushing personal propaganda in the guise of national interest research, and questions on the privacy of a US citizen.
It is a step in the right direction that this top secret document was unclassified and released to the media and public.
US citizens expect the FBI and DOJ to work unbiasedly towards the protection of the country and each of its citizens. Exposing facts such as these bring to light the misuse of power and the shadiness of various processes that decision makers, federal agencies, and political leaders are engaged in.
The findings of the memo also raise questions about the “fruits of the poisonous tree.” If the Steele dossier did indeed find damning evidence of Trump’s connections with Russia, can this be accepted? This question is pertinent as the processes followed to obtain any information was clearly underhand, through the abuse of the government agency processes, and not clean and overboard. This makes any evidence collected completely inadmissible in court.
There is a reason why agencies, policies, processes, and statutes exist. And misusing them, abusing them, twisting them to push personal propaganda should not be tolerated.
Nunes, D. (2018, January 18). Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act Abuses at the Department of Justice and Federal Bureau of Investigation. Washington, DC: House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence. Retrieved from https://www.docdroid.net/vF0yO10/devin-nunes-fisa-memo.pdf