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Democrats release memo, rebut Republicans on Russia probe

The release of the Democratic document came weeks after the Republicans released a memo of their own.

world Updated: Feb 25, 2018 21:53 IST
Yashwant Raj
Yashwant Raj
Hindustan Times, Washington
President Donald Trump,Democrats,Republicans
Adam Schiff, the top Democrat on the House intelligence committee.(AFP file)

The Democrats on Saturday released the censored version of a classified memo to counter a Republican narrative that the FBI and US justice department conspired against President Donald Trump and his team as they investigated their alleged ties to Russia.

The release of the Democratic document came weeks after the Republicans released a memo of their own. The older memo, which is endorsed by Trump, contends that the justice department and the FBI depended on a “dodgy dossier” put together by a former British spy funded by Democrats to put surveillance on campaign aide Carter Page in 2016.

However, the Democratic memo argues that Page had been on the FBI’s radar much before the dossier surfaced.

“The Democratic response memo released should put to rest any concerns that the American people might have as to the conduct of the FBI, the justice department and the FISC (Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court),” said Adam Schiff, the top Democrat on the House intelligence committee.

A print of a memo released by the Democrats on the US House of Representatives Intelligence Committee on February 24, 2018. (Reuters)

But the move was unlikely to put an end to the issue of the Russia probe, with Democrats and Republicans duelling over the controversy for much of the Trump presidency.

Trump responded to the release of the memo by tweeting: “The Democrat memo response on government surveillance abuses is a total political and legal BUST. Just confirms all of the terrible things that were done. SO ILLEGAL!”

Russian meddling into the 2016 US elections is under multiple investigations — by at least four congressional panels, by the intelligence and judiciary committees of the House and the Senate, and by special counsel Robert Mueller.

The House intelligence committee Republicans under Devin Nunes claimed in a February 2 memo that the department of justice and the FBI used the dossier to obtain permission to put Page under surveillance and omitted to inform the court of antecedents of the document.

They argued that the dossier was critical to the surveillance of Page, which triggered the Russia investigations.

The Democratic memo contended that investigators informed the court of the antecedents of the dossier and its author, and their brief. “The FBI speculates that the (the person who commissioned the dossier) was likely looking for information that could be used to discredit Candidate #1’s (Donald Trump’s) campaign,” it said.

First Published: Feb 25, 2018 21:53 IST