On Friday, the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence (HPSCI) released the much anticipated “Nunes memo.” This memorandum compiled by Rep. Devin Nunes (R-CA) contains damning allegations of wrongdoing by the FBI and the DOJ under the Obama administration. The memo alleges that:
- The Steele dossier, a piece of opposition research compiled by former MI6 agent Christopher Steele, funded indirectly by the Democratic National Committee (DNC) and the Hillary Clinton 2016 campaign, formed an “essential part” of the FISA application to wiretap Carter Page, a Trump campaign aide.
- Former Deputy Director of the FBI Andrew McCabe testified that no warrant would have been sought against Page had the Steele dossier not been brought to the bureau’s attention.
- The FBI did not inform the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court (FISC) that the Steele dossier was funded partially by the institutions of the Democratic Party
- Allegations that Page had traveled to Moscow in 2016, of which were in the dossier, were corroborated in the FISC using a Yahoo News article, of which was written with information from the dossier.
- Steele was working with the FBI and maintained contact with then-Associate Deputy Attorney General Bruce Ohr, who Steele told he “was desperate that Donald Trump not get elected and was passionate about him not being president.”
- Ohr relayed his wife’s findings, who cultivated opposition research on then-candidate Trump to the FBI, which was concealed from the FISC.
- The overarching investigation began with an anonymous tip that alleged George Papadopoulos drunkenly confessed that he was receiving compromising information from the Russian government on Hillary Clinton during the 2016 campaign.
And while we have been afforded access to the elusive memo, questions surrounding it continue to swirl. For one, why did the Democrats so fervently oppose the release of the memo? Many made claims its publication would pose a risk to national security and fervently opposed its release, only to claim that the that memo isn’t true.
Another question pertains to the veracity of some of the claims made in the memo, particularly the reported testimony of McCabe, with two Democrats claiming that the memo misrepresented what McCabe testified in his interview. Conversely, Rep. Lee Zeldin (R-NY) testified to its accuracy. Furthermore, Rep. Adam Schiff (D-CA) denied that the financial and political motivations of Steele were not reported to the FISC while obtaining the FISA warrant.
Next, it’s unclear what Nunes intended when he reported that “Steele dossier information” was used in obtaining the warrant as written in the memo, as opposed to just “the Steele dossier.” Such has called into question if the entire dossier was presented to the FISC, or if certain independently verified parts of the dossier were used. Additionally, it remains unclear whether any additional information used while acquiring the warrant.
Finally, the memo also does not answer whether then-candidate Trump was targeted. Should everything in the memo be true, it would prove that the FBI unethically acquired a FISA warrant, but that warrant was for Carter Page. The memo contends that the warrant was issued in October 2016, several months after Page’s departure from the campaign.
Despite questions persisting, Nunes has promised that more memos are on the way, and Schiff’s memo will likely be released soon as well. However, many are calling on these representatives to release all underlying evidence that culminated in these conclusions. This Russian saga is far from over.