The House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence (HPSCI) [official website] on Saturday released a redacted version of the Democrat response [text, PDF] to Devin Nunes’s memo countering GOP claims [JURIST report] that the FBI overstepped their surveillance authority while investigating Russian involvement in the 2016 presidential election.
Titled “Correcting the Record – The Russia Investigations,” the response criticized GOP allegations against the FBI and the Department of Justice (DOJ) [official websites] as a “transparent effort to undermine those agencies, Special Counsel, and Congress’s investigations” and stated that the memo accomplished nothing more than risking “public exposure of sensitive sources and methods for no legitimate purpose.”
Expressly stating that the FBI and DOJ did not abuse the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) [text, PDF] as has been alleged by the Nunes memo, the response staunchly defended the two institutions adding that they would have been “remiss in their duty to protect the country had they not sought an FISA warrant and conduct repeated surveillance of Carter Page” whom the FBI assessed to be an agent of Russia.
The response further defended the DOJ as meeting the “rigor, transparency and evidentiary basis needed to meet FISA’s probable cause requirement” by demonstrating 1) contemporaneous evidence of Russia’s election interference; 2) concerning Russian links and outreach to Trump campaign officials; 3) Page’s history with Russian intelligence; and 4) Page’s suspicious activities in 2016, including in Moscow.
The response also asserted that Nunes’s memo “draws selectively on highly classified sensitive information” and includes “other distortions and misrepresentations that are contradicted by the underlying classified documents … which Chairman Nunes chose not to read himself.” The memo then goes into an extensively detailed point-by-point rebuttal of Nunes’s memo terming it “a profoundly misleading memorandum … drafted in secret on behalf of Chairman Devin Nunes” and “rushed to a party-line vote without prior notice.”
Nunes has already released a statement [press release] responding to this Democrat response-memo accusing the FBI of using “political dirt paid for by the Democratic Party to spy on an American citizen from the Republican Party.” HPSCI minority member and author of the responsive memo Adam Schiff [official website] released [NPR report] his own statement saying that his memo:
should put to rest any concerns that the American people might have as to the conduct of the FBI, the Justice Department and the [Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court]. Our extensive review of the three FISA application and three subsequent renewals failed to uncover any evidence of illegal, unethical, or unprofessional behavior by law enforcement and instead revealed that both the FBI and DOJ made extensive showings to justify all four requests.
Schiff has subsequently been directly engaging President Donald Trump [official profile] on Twitter in connection with the release of his memo.