1FISA-Gate

Photo credit: businessinsider.com

In March 2017, President Trump made the startling claim that the Obama administration had surveilled Trump Tower during the 2016 election. Trump was ridiculed by the media for making this unverified allegation, but it now appears that at least one member of Trump’s campaign team was surveilled by members of the outgoing administration.

On February 2, 2018, the House Intelligence Committee declassified a controversial memo authored by Chairman Devin Nunes. The memo reveals that members of the Obama Justice Department had presented a “salacious and unverified” dossier authored by discredited FBI informant Christopher Steele as a key piece of evidence when requesting a Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) warrant to surveil Trump campaign adviser Carter Page (no known relation to FBI lawyer Lisa Page mentioned earlier) during the 2016 election.

The Steele dossier was used as evidence, even though Steele had already been discounted as an unreliable FBI source who leaked information to the media.

On its own, the Nunes memo doesn’t prove much. But days later, Senators Chuck Grassley and Lindsey Graham released a heavily redacted memo that appears to corroborate many of the claims made in the Nunes memo. The Grassley/Graham memo said that the unverified Steele dossier made up the bulk of the evidence used to secure the initial FISA warrant (and three successive renewals) to surveil Page.

Even though they knew that the Steele dossier was opposition research funded by Hillary Clinton’s presidential campaign and the DNC, the FBI failed to verify the contents of the dossier before submitting it as evidence to obtain a FISA warrant. Steele appears to have used high-ranking Russian officials as sources for this Democratic-funded dossier that ironically alleged that the Republican candidate was colluding with the Russians to influence the 2016 election.

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