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White House Releases Democrats' Memo on Russia Probes

By VOA News February 24, 2018

The White House on Saturday released a redacted version of a Democratic congressional memo that rebuts a Republican account of alleged FBI surveillance abuses.

The release of the Democratic memo came three weeks after the release of the Republican version of events, which was compiled by staffers of House intelligence committee Chairman Devin Nunes of California.

Saturday's release followed negotiations between the FBI and the House intelligence committee's top Democrat, Adam Schiff of California, over what information should not be released.

The Republican memo alleged that the FBI suppressed information about Democratic ties to an opposition research dossier used to obtain a federal warrant for surveillance of a former Trump campaign adviser, Carter Page.

Schiff, who wrote the Democratic memo, and fellow Democrats on the intelligence panel alleged that the Republican version of the story omitted and misrepresented facts. They also accused President Donald Trump of ignoring concerns about disclosing sensitive information when releasing the Republican version of the memo, while holding the Democratic one for political reasons rather than security concerns.

FBI Director Christopher Wray had also expressed concerns about the Republican memo, saying it left out key information.

White House statement

White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders released a statement Saturday in conjunction with the Democratic memo. In it, she said, "While the Democrats' memorandum attempts to undercut the president politically, the president supported its release in the interest of transparency. Nevertheless, this politically driven document fails to answer serious concerns raised by the majority's memorandum about the use of partisan opposition research from one candidate, loaded with uncorroborated allegations, as a basis to ask a court to approve surveillance of a former associate of another candidate, at the height of a presidential campaign."

The Democratic memo says the dossier at issue was not the only reason for the FBI's investigation of ties to Russia from the Trump presidential campaign, and was far from being the only source of evidence for three renewals of the FBI warrant for surveillance of Page, the Trump adviser.

The memo says in bold type, "FISA [the federal warrant process] was not used to spy on Trump or his campaign."

It also says the FBI did not rely on the opposition research done by the presidential campaign of Hillary Clinton and did not pay the researcher, a former British spy named Christopher Steele, for any reporting.

The Democrats also say in their memo that Nunes' Republican version of the story "draws selectively on highly sensitive classified information" and "includes other distortions and misrepresentations that are contradicted by the underlying classified documents."

The memo says the "vast majority" of committee members and members of the House of Representatives have not had the opportunity to review those documents. And it asserts that Nunes "chose not to read" the documents himself, echoing earlier reports that Nunes left the bulk of the work on the memo to members of his staff.

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