Trump declassifies memo, claims FBI relied on 'Steele dossier'

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President Donald J. Trump has authorised the release of a congressional memo, authored by Republicans, alleging that the FBI’s Russian probe began from bias information, paid for by Democrats.  The memo, released by the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence, alleges that the FBI failed to disclose this information when requesting a surveillance order from a federal court. 

The four-page memo says that the FBI’s interest in the Trump campaign came after reading the “Steele dossier”: information gathered by former British foreign intelligence agent Christopher Steele.

Steele’s investigation was partially paid for by a political research firm which had Democratic Party clients. The work included research on Trump’s 2016 presidential campaign. Republicans have said that this relationship with Democratic Party-linked groups makes the Steele dossier unreliable.

Republican congress member Devin Nunes, chairman of the House Intelligence Committee, says in the memo that the FBI requested a Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) order to surveil Trump campaign aide Carter Paige after reading the Steele dossier. He said the FBI didn’t tell the FISA court that the request was driven by the unverified Steele Dossier.

Here is the transcript of the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence meeting that voted to release the memo. The vote on page 12 is regarding releasing the Democrat (minority) response memo to the House (ayes 21, noes 0), the vote on page 30 is whether to release the Republican memo to the Department of Justice and FBI for review which would delay declassification and release to the public (ayes 9, noes 12), the vote on page 41 is whether the Democrat memo should be released at the same time as the Republican memo (ayes 8, noes 12) and the vote on page 44 is whether to declassify and release the Republican memo to the public (ayes 11, noes 9.)

Just over a year ago BuzzFeed News published the Steele dossier in full. It has lurid allegations but more prosaic detail on purported contacts between Russians and the Trump team.

Key points about the Steele dossier:

  • The dossier is a series of documents outlining the Trump campaign’s ties to the Kremlin and Russian-state actors. It alleges that the Russian government attempted to blackmail Trump with sex tapes and bribe him with business deals. (New York Times). 
  • Christopher Steele’s dossier was funded by Fusion GPS, a research firm that was commissioned by Democrats. However, the firm’s investigation was previously financed by a Republican donor Paul Singer. (New York Times).
  • Steele handed over the dossier to the FBI in the fall of 2016, sometime before Mother Jones published a piece revealing that this docket of information existed.
  • The CIA alerted then President Barack Obama in August 2016 that the Russian government planned to discredit the Hillary Clinton campaign, according to the Washington Post.

Below is the memo in full. To help transcribe this memo or add information from it go to EDIT STORY.

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