Does the controversial memo released by the House Intelligence Committee Friday claiming the Justice Department used the infamous unverified “dossier” to obtain permission from a top-secret court to spy on a Trump campaign adviser have any relationship to Robert Mueller’s special counsel investigation of alleged Russia-Trump campaign collusion?
That’s the belief of the Washington watchdog organization Judicial Watch, which has filed a Freedom of Information Act lawsuit seeking all of the documents the Justice Department and the FBI submitted to the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court “related to alleged collusion between Russia and Trump campaign associates.”
Judicial Watch, calling it possibly “the worst government abuse scandal in a generation,” said the Nunes memo “makes a compelling case that the FISA (Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act) court was misled and severely abused by top officials in the Justice Department and FBI.”
“Rather than relying upon dueling summary memos from Republicans and Democrats, the American people should be able to see for themselves the details of how the Obama administration officials (and Rod Rosenstein of the Trump administration) justified spying on the Trump team,” the watchdog group said.
Democrats on the House Intelligence Committee want their own memo, rebutting the Republican majority, to be released.
The Judicial Watch case, filed in federal court in Washington, D.C., followed the FBI’s rejection of a FOIA request by Judicial Watch for the documentation.
“Let’s be clear about what is at stake here. The memo shows that Comey, McCabe, Yates, and Rosenstein misled the FISA court. Will Rosenstein be fired? Will he have to recuse himself, in the least?”
Rosenstein, the deputy attorney general, signed off on the FISA warrants to spy on the Trump campaign adviser, Carter Page, and he now oversees the Mueller investigation.
Judicial Watch noted the memo affirms that the anti-Trump dossier, written by former British spy Christopher Steele, was paid for by Hillary Clinton’s presidential campaign and the Democratic National Committee.
“Yet, it was used by top Justice Department officials to obtain a FISA warrant. In fact, there could have been no FISA warrant without the dossier.”
Judicial Watch concluded that means “there was no Russia collusion story without the dossier.”
“Which means there could have been no Mueller special counsel without the Clinton-financed anti-Russia dossier.”
Judicial Watch said it “may be the worst government abuse scandal in a generation – which makes it urgent the Justice Department stop stonewalling the release of the FISA documents.”
The Nunes memo, released Friday, stated then-FBI Deputy Director Andrew McCabe – who resigned unexpectedly a week ago – testified to the committee that the FISA court would not have approved surveillance warrants to wiretap Page if not for the dossier.
In an interview Friday, Nunes charged that there is, in fact, evidence of collusion with Russia – not with the Trump campaign, but with the Hillary Clinton camp and the Democratic National Committee.
The memo says the FBI and Justice Department relied on a Yahoo News story by Michael Isikoff to lend credibility to the dossier. But the source of the Yahoo story was the author of the dossier, Steele, who held personal animus toward Trump, according to the memo, and was “passionate” about ensuring Trump did not become president.
The memo says senior DOJ and FBI officials knew about the political origins of the Steele dossier but didn’t state that fact in the FISA applications.
Steele was suspended and then terminated by the FBI as a source for disclosing to the media his relationship with the bureau. But Steele, the memo states, continued contact with the Justice Department through senior DOJ official Bruce Ohr, who worked closely with Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein.
Rosenstein opposed release of the Nunes memo.
The memo further states that during the time Steele was in contact with Ohr, Ohr’s wife was employed by Fusion GPS “to assist in the cultivation of opposition research on Trump.”
“Ohr later provided the FBI with all of his wife’s opposition research, paid for by the DNC and Clinton campaign via Fusion GPS,” the memo says.
“But Ohr’s relationship with Steele and Fusion GPS was inexplicably concealed” from the FISA court.