- contemporaneous evidence of Russia's election interference;
- concerning Russian links and outreach to Trump campaign officials;
- Page's history with Russian intelligence; and
- REDACTED Page's suspicious activities in 2016, including in Moscow.
- Christopher Steele's raw intelligence reporting did not inform the decision to initiate its counterintelligence investigation in late July 2016. In fact, the FBI's closely-held investigative team only received Steele's reporting in mid-September more than seven weeks later. The FBI and, subsequently, the Special Counsel's investigation into links between the Russian government and Trump campaign associates has been based on troubling law enforcement and intelligence information unrelated to the "dossier."
- DOJ's October 21, 2016 FISA application and three subsequent renewals carefully outlined for the Court a multi-pronged rationale for surveilling Page, who, at the time of the first application, was no longer with the Trump campaign. DOJ detailed Page's past relationships with Russian spies and interaction with Russian officials during the 2016 campaign REDACTED. DOJ cited multiple sources to support the case for surveilling Page but made only narrow use of information from Steele's sources about Page's specific activities in 2016, chiefly his suspected July 2016 meetings in Moscow with Russian officials. REDACTED. In fact, the FBI interviewed Page in March 2016 about his contact with Russian intelligence, the very month candidate Donald Trump named him a foreign policy adviser. As DOJ informed the Court in subsequent renewals, REDACTED, Steele's reporting about Page's Moscow meetings REDACTED. DOJ's applications did not otherwise rely on Steele's reporting, including any "salacious" allegations about Trump, and the FBI never paid Steele for this reporting. While explaining why the FBI viewed Steele's reporting and sources as reliable and credible, DOJ also disclosed:
- Steele's prior relationship with the FBI
- the fact of and reason for his termination as a source; and
- the assessed political motivation of those who hired him.
- The Committee Majority's memorandum, which draws selectively on highly sensitive classified information,includes other distortions and misrepresentations that are contradicted by the underlying classified documents, which the vast majority of Members of the Committee and the House have not had the opportunity to review — and which Chairman Nunes chose not to read himself.
The initial warrant application and subsequent renewals received independent scrutiny and approval by four different federal judges,
three TWO of whom were appointed by President George W. Bush [ONE BY GEORGE H.W BUSH] and one by President Ronald Reagan. DOJ first applied to the FISC on October 21, 2016, for a warrant to permit the FBI to initiate electronic surveillance and physical search of Page for 90 days, consistent with FISA requirements. The Court approved three renewals — in early January 2017, early April 2017, and late June 2017 — which authorized the FBI to maintain surveillance on Page until late September 2017. Senior DOJ and FBI officials appointed by the Obama and Trump Administrations, including acting Attorney General Dana Boente and Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein, certified the applications with the Court.
- Page's Connections to Russian Government and Intelligence Officials: The FBI had an independent basis for investigating Page's motivations and actions during the campaign, transition, and following the inauguration. As DOJ described in detail to the Court, Page had an extensive record as REDACTED prior to joining the Trump campaign. He resided in Moscow from 2004-2007 and pursued business deals with Russia's state-owned energy company Gazprom — REDACTED.
- Page's Suspicious Activity During the 2016 Campaign: The FISA applications also detail Page's suspicious activity after joining the Trump campaign in March 2016. REDACTED. Page traveled to Moscow in July 2016, during which he gave a university commencement address an honor usually reserved for well-known luminaries.
- It is in this specific sub-section of the applications that DOJ refers to Steele's reporting on Page and his alleged coordination with Russian officials. Steele's information about Page was consistent with the assessment of Russian intelligence efforts to recruit him and his connections to Russian persons of interest.
- In particular, Steele's sources reported that Page met separately while in Russia with Igor Sechin, a close associate of Vladimir Putin and executive chairman of Rosneft, Russia's state-owned oil company, and Igor Divyekin, a senior Kremlin official. Sechin allegedly discussed the prospect of future U.S.-Russia energy cooperation and "an associated move to lift Ukraine-related western sanctions against Russia." Divyekin allegedly disclosed to Page that the Kremlin possessed compromising information on Clinton ("kompromat") and noted "the possibility of its being released to Candidate No. 1's campaign." [Note: Candidate No. 1 refers to candidate Trump.] This closely tracks what other Russian contacts were informing another Trump foreign policy adviser, George Papadopoulos.
- In subsequent FISA renewals, DOJ provided additional information obtained through multiple independent sources that corroborated Steele's reporting.
- Page's REDACTED in Moscow with REDACTED senior Russian officials REDACTED as well as meetings with Russian officials REDACTED.
- The Court-approved surveillance of Page allowed FBI to collect valuable intelligence. The FISA renewals demonstrate that the FBI collected important investigative information and leads by conducting Court-approved surveillance. For instance, REDACTED. DOJ also documented evidence that Page REDACTED, anticipated REDACTED and repeatedly contacted REDACTED in an effort to present himself as REDACTED. Page's efforts to REDACTED also contradict his sworn testimony to our Committee.
- DOJ was transparent with Court about Steele's sourcing: The Committee Majority, which had earlier accused Obama Administration officials of improper "unmasking," faults DOJ for not revealing the names of specific U.S. persons and entities in the FISA application and subsequent renewals. In fact, DOJ appropriately upheld its longstanding practice of protecting U.S. citizen information by purposefully not "unmasking" US. person and entity names, unless they were themselves the subject of a counterintelligence investigation. DOJ instead used generic identifiers that provided the Court with more than sufficient information to understand the political context of Steele's research. In an extensive explanation to the Court, DOJ discloses that Steele:
"was approached by an identified U.S. Person, who indicated to Source #1 [Steele] that a U.S.-based law-firm had hired the identified U.S. Person to conduct research regarding Candidate #1's ties to Russia. (The identified U.S. Person and Source #1 have a long-standing business relationship.) The identified U.S. person hired Source #1 to conduct this research. The identified U.S. Person never advised Source #1 as to the motivation behind the research into Candidate #1's ties to Russia. The FBI speculates that the identified U.S. Person was likely looking for information that could be used to discredit Candidate No. 1's campaign."
- DOJ explained the reasonable basis for finding Steele credible: The applications correctly described Steele as REDACTED. The applications also reviewed Steele's multi-year history of credible reporting on Russia and other matters, including information DOJ used in criminal proceedings. Senior FBI and DOJ officials have repeatedly affirmed to the Committee the reliability and credibility of Steele's reporting, an assessment also reflected in the underlying source documents. The FBI has undertaken a rigorous process to vet allegations from Steele's reporting, including with regard to Page.
- The FBI properly notified the FISC after it terminated Steele as a source for making unauthorized disclosures to the media. The Majority cites no evidence that the FBI, prior to its initial October 21, 2016, application, actually knew or should have known of any allegedly inappropriate media contacts by Steele. Nor do they cite evidence that Steele disclosed to Yahoo! details included in the FISA warrant, since the British Court filings to
which they refer do not address what Steele may have said to Yahoo!.
- DOJ never paid Steele for the "dossier": The Majority asserts that the FBI had "separately authorized payment" to Steele for his research on Trump but neglects to mention that payment was cancelled and never made. As the records and Committee testimony confirms, although the FBI initially considered compensation REDACTED, Steele ultimately never received payment from the FBI for any "dossier"-related information. DOJ accurately informed the Court that Steele had been an FBI confidential human source since REDACTED, for which he was "compensated REDACTED by the FBI" — payment for previously-shared information of value unrelated to the Russia investigation.
- DOJ appropriately provided the Court with a comprehensive explanation of Russia's election interference, including evidence that Russia courted another Trump campaign adviser, Papadopoulos, and that Russian agents previewed their hack and dissemination of stolen emails. In claiming that there is "no evidence of any cooperation or conspiracy between Page and Papadopoulos," the Majority misstates the reason why DOJ specifically explained Russia's courting of Papadopoulos. Papadopoulos's interaction with Russian agents, coupled with real-time evidence of Russian election interference, provided the Court with a broader context in which to evaluate Russia's clandestine activities and Page's history and alleged contact with Russian officials. Moreover, since only Page REDACTED, no evidence of a separate conspiracy between him and Papadopoulos was required. DOJ would have been negligent in omitting vital information about Papadopoulos and Russia's concerted efforts.
- In its Court filings, DOJ made proper use of news coverage. The Majority falsely claims that the FISA materials "relied heavily" on a September 23, 2016 Yahoo! News article by Michael Isikoff and that this article "does not corroborate the Steele Dossier because it is derived from information leaked by Steele himself." In fact, DOJ referenced lsikoff's article, alongside another article the Majority fails to mention, not to provide separate corroboration for Steele's reporting, but instead to inform the Court of Page's public denial of his suspected meetings in Moscow, which Page also echoed in a September 25, 2016 letter to FBI Director Comey.
- The Majority's reference to Bruce Ohr is misleading. The Majority mischaracterizes Bruce Ohr's role, overstates the significance of his interactions with Steele, and misleads about the timeframe of Ohr's communication with the FBI. In late November 2016, Ohr informed the FBI of his prior professional relationship with Steele and information that Steele shared with him (including Steele's concern about Trump being compromised by Russia). He also described his wife's contract work with Fusion GPS, the firm that hired Steele separately. This occurred weeks after the election and more than a month after the Court approved the initial FISA application. The Majority describes Bruce Ohr as a senior DOJ official who "worked closely with the Deputy Attorney General, Yates and later Rosenstein," in order to imply that Ohr was somehow involved in the process, but there is no indication this is the case. Bruce Ohr is a well-respected career professional whose portfolio is drugs and organized crime, not counterintelligence. There is no evidence that he would have known about the Page FISA applications and their contents. The Majority's assertions, moreover, are irrelevant in determining the veracity of Steele's reporting. By the time Ohr debriefs with the FBI, it had already terminated Steele as a source and was independently corroborating Steele's reporting about Page's activities. Bruce Ohr took the initiative to inform the FBI of what he knew, and the Majority does him a grave disservice by suggesting he is part of some malign conspiracy.
- Finally, Peter Strzok and Lisa Page's text messages are irrelevant to the FISA application. The Majority gratuitously includes reference to Strzok and Page at the end of their memorandum, in an effort to imply that political bias infected the FBl's investigation and FISA applications. In fact, neither Strzok nor Page served as affiants on the applications, which were the product of extensive and senior DOJ and FBI review. In demonizing both career professionals, the Majority accuses them of "orchestrating leaks to the media" — a serious charge; omits inconvenient text messages, in which they critiqued a wide range of other officials and candidates from both parties; does not disclose that FBI Deputy Director McCabe testified to the Committee that he had no idea what Page and Strzok were referring to in their "insurance policy" texts; and ignores Strzok's acknowledged role in preparing a public declaration, by then Director Comey, about former Secretary Clinton's "extreme carelessness" in handling classified information, which greatly damaged Clinton's public reputation in the days just prior to the presidential election.