The controversial House Republican staff memo, released on Friday, says the main Justice Department and the FBI relied partly on information from Christopher Steele, a former intelligence officer with an anti-Trump agenda, to obtain and renew a surveillance warrant on a Trump campaign adviser.
The four-page, newly declassified memo written by Republican staffers for the House Intelligence Committee said the group’s findings “raise concerns with the legitimacy and legality of certain [Justice Department] and FBI interactions with the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court (FISC).” It cites “a troubling breakdown of legal processes established to protect the American people from abuses related to the FISA process,” a reference to the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act, the Washington Post reports. The memo alleges that a surveillance warrant was obtained and renewed on former Trump campaign adviser Carter Page, with information from Christopher Steele, a former intelligence officer in Britain who had an anti-Trump agenda.
It accuses officials who approved the surveillance applications, including then-FBI Director James Comey, his deputy Andrew McCabe, then-Deputy Attorney General Sally Yates and current Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein, of signing off on court surveillance requests that omitted key facts about Steele’s political motivations. The memo says Steele “was suspended and then terminated as an FBI source for what the FBI defines as the most serious of violations — an unauthorized disclosure to the media of his relationship with the FBI.’’ The memo argues that Steele’s contacts with reporters in 2016 “violated the cardinal rule of source handling — maintaining confidentiality — and demonstrated that Steele had become a less than reliable source for the FBI.” In September 2016, according to the memo, Steele admitted that he was “desperate that Donald Trump not get elected and was passionate about him not being president.” The memo charges that law enforcement officials vouched for Steele as someone who had provided valuable information in an earlier corruption probe involving FIFA, the world soccer organization, but that they did not tell the court about his views on Trump. After the FBI terminated Steele as a source, an internal FBI report assessed that Steele’s information had been “only minimally corroborated,” the memo said.