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Top Democrat responds to GOP memo with his own

Rep. Schiff: Nunes memo "partisan politics"
Rep. Schiff: Nunes memo "partisan politics" 05:00

A top Democrat on Saturday authored a rebuttal memo to respond to the GOP memo that outlines the securing and use of surveillance warrants on former Trump campaign official Carter Page, although it is not the official rebuttal from Democrats on the House Intelligence Committee. The paper from House Judiciary Committee ranking member Jerrold Nadler, D-New York outlines what Nadler views as key holes in the GOP memo. 

The GOP memo, released by Republicans on the House Intelligence Committee with the president's blessing and against the urging of Democrats and the FBI, lays out a case that the unsubstantiated and politically motivated dossier alleging ties between Donald Trump and Russia was used to obtain Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) warrants against Page

But Nadler — one of the few in Congress who has viewed the documents the GOP memo is based on— claims in his paper that the GOP memo is misleading. The New York Democrat says the memo fails to prove that the FBI lacked enough evidence to obtain the FISA warrants without the dossier, a document of anti-Trump research authored by former British intelligence official Christopher Steele. The New York Democrat also says that Steele's his experience in dealing with Russian operatives and other elements related to the FISA application were not outweighed by any political bias he may or may not have had. Nadler also claims the GOP memo does not substantiate any case for the firing of Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein. 

"So, to be clear: Carter Page was, more likely than not, an agent of a foreign power," Nadler's paper says. "The Department of Justice thought so. A federal judge agreed. That consensus, supported by the facts, forms the basis for the warrant issued by the FISA court. The Russian government waged a massive campaign to discredit our election. Carter Page appears to have played a role in that effort. The FBI had a responsibility to follow these facts where they lead. The Nunes memo would have us sweet this all under the rug. And for what, exactly?"

Nadler's paper continues, "Nothing about the source of Steele's funding or his later opinions about Donald Trump speak to the credibility of his work, or its inclusion in the FISA application. The Nunes memo gives us no reason to doubt the court's determination of probable cause to believe that Carter Page was an agent of the Russian government — particularly given Page's later admissions to the press about his interactions with Russian officials. And nothing about the payment from the DNC is unethical or improper. Christopher Steele is one of the world's leading experts on Russian organized crime. His job was to uncover the facts."

In short, Nadler claims, the GOP memo does not create any case to undermine the Russia investigation.

Top Republicans like Speaker of the House Paul Ryan and House Oversight and Government Reform Chairman Rep. Trey Gowdy have insisted the GOP memo does not undermine the credibility of special counsel Robert Mueller's investigation into Russian election meddling and any ties to the Trump campaign. 

But on Saturday morning, President Trump took to Twitter to link the memo and the Russia probe, claiming the memo "totally vindicates 'Trump'" from the "witch hunt" Russia investigation.

The official memo from Democrats on the House Intelligence Committee may very well still be forthcoming. Republicans on that committee voted to block to the release of Democrats' official rebuttal memo last week, even as they voted to release the GOP memo. But House Intelligence Committee Chairman Rep. Devin Nunes, R-California, told Fox News' Bret Baier Friday night that he expects another vote on releasing the memo from the Democrats. 

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