Democrats speaking with FBI about memo

By Tom LoBianco The Associated Press

WASHINGTON — The top Democrat on the House Intelligence Committee said Wednesday that he is continuing to negotiate with the FBI over the release of a memo packed with classified information from secret surveillance applications, but he remains unsure if the White House will attempt to block its release.

Democrats argue their memo, with as yet undisclosed details used to win court approval to listen in on a former adviser to the campaign of President Donald Trump, would rebut a Republican memo released two weeks ago. Trump has said the GOP memo proves his campaign was the target of a politically motivated spying operation.

“What I don‘t know is what authority the FBI and (Justice Department) has been given. When we reach an agreement with the FBI, is that the end of the matter, or will the White House use a veto?” Rep. Adam Schiff said at The Christian Science Monitor Breakfast.

Ty Cobb, the lawyer coordinating the White House‘s response to a special counsel‘s Russia inquiry, rebutted Schiff‘s accusation, flatly saying “No.” White House counsel Don McGahn wrote the letter last Friday seeking more redactions from the Democratic memo, and it was not immediately clear Wednesday afternoon whether McGahn agreed with Cobb.

Schiff and Democratic staff members have been talking with the FBI about what portions of their memo to redact, after the White House last week announced it would not approve its release without significant redactions. Democrats have argued the memo would prove that the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act warrant approved for Carter Page used credible evidence, and not just allegations contained in the “Steele Dossier,” which was bankrolled in part by a lawyer working for the presidential campaign of Hillary Clinton and the Democratic National Committee.

Schiff noted Wednesday that the memo includes classified details from four FISA applications on Page — the original request filed in October 2016, and three subsequent renewals.

The Justice Department had previously responded to public records requests on government surveillance of Trump associates by refusing to confirm or deny that any such records existed — known in the law as a Glomar response.

But in a court filing Wednesday, the department acknowledged the existence of the Republican memo and the facts it revealed. It withdrew its Glomar response with respect to the surveillance of Page and confirmed that the first FISA warrant for him was obtained after he had left the Trump campaign.


Leave a Comment