The Nunes memo is a document created by the staff of House Intelligence Committee Chairman Devin Nunes (R-Calif.) that alleges the FBI abused its surveillance authority, particularly when it sought a secret court order to monitor a former Trump campaign adviser. The FBI and the Justice Department had lobbied strenuously against its release. On Wednesday, the FBI had said it was “gravely concerned” that key facts were missing from the memo. President approves release of GOP memo criticizing FBI surveillance
THE WHITE HOUSE
February 2, 2018
The Honorable Devin Nunes
Chairman, House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence
United States Capitol
Washington, DC 20515
Dear Mr. Chairman:
On January 29, 2018, the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence (hereinafter ?the
Committee?) voted to disclose publicly a memorandum containing classi?ed information
provided to the Committee in connection with its oversight activities (the ?Memorandum,?
which is attached to this letter). As provided by clause 11(g) of Rule of the House of
Representatives, the Committee has forwarded this Memorandum to the President based on its
determination that the release of the Memorandum would serve the public interest.
The Constitution vests the President with the authority to protect national security secrets from it
disclosure. As the Supreme Court has recognized, it is the President?s responsibility to classify,
declassify, and control access to information bearing on our intelligence sources and methods
and national defense. See, Dep of Navy v. Egan, 484 US. 518, 527 (1988). In order to
facilitate appropriate congressional oversight, the Executive Branch may entrust classi?ed
information to the appropriate committees of Congress, as it has done in connection with the
Committee?s oversight activities here. The Executive Branch does so on the assumption that the
Committee will responsibly protect such classi?ed information, consistent with the laws of the
The Committee has now determined that the release of the Memorandum would be appropriate.
The Executive Branch, across Administrations of both parties, has worked to accommodate
congressional requests to declassify speci?c materials in the public interest.1 However, public
release of classi?ed information by unilateral action of the Legislative Branch is extremely rare
and raises signi?cant separation of powers concerns. Accordingly, the Committee?s request to
release the Memorandum is interpreted as a request for declassi?cation pursuant to the
The President understands that the protection of our national security represents his highest
obligation. Accordingly, he has directed lawyers and national security staff to assess the
1 See, e. S. Rept. 114?8 at 12 (Administration of Barack Obama) (?On April 3, 2014 . . . the Committee agreed to
send the revised Findings and Conclusions, and the updated Executive Summary of the Committee Study, to the
President for declassi?cation and public release?); H. Rept. 107-792 (Administration of George W. Bush) (similar);
E.O. 12812 (Administration of George H.W. Bush) (noting Senate resolution requesting that President provide for
declassi?cation of certain information Via Executive Order).
declassi?cation request, consistent with established standards governing the handling of
classi?ed information, including those under Section 3.1(d) of Executive Order 13526. Those
standards permit declassi?cation when the public interest in disclosure outweighs any need to
protect the information. The White House review process also included input from the Of?ce of
the Director of National Intelligence and the Department of Justice. Consistent with this review
and these standards, the President has determined that declassification of the Memorandum is
Based on this assessment and in light of the signi?cant public interest in the memorandum, the
President has authorized the declassi?cation of the Memorandum. To be clear, the
Memorandum re?ects the judgments of its congressional authors. The President understands
that oversight concerning matters related to the Memorandum may be continuing. Though the
circumstances leading to the declassi?cation through this process are extraordinary, the
Executive Branch stands ready to work with Congress to accommodate oversight requests
consistent with applicable standards and processes, including the need to protect intelligence
sources and methods.
Donald F. McGahn II
Counsel to the President
cc: The Honorable Paul Ryan
Speaker of the House of Representatives
The Honorable Adam Schiff
Ranking Member, House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence
DeclasSi?ed by order of the President
February 2, 2018
January 18, 2018
To: HPSCI Majority Members
From: HPSCI Majority Staff
Subject: Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act Abuses at the Department of Justice and the
Federal Bureau of Investigation
This memorandum provides Members an update on significant facts relating to the
Committee?s ongoing investigation into the Department of Justice (DOJ) and Federal Bureau of
Investigation (FBI) and their use of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (F ISA) during the
2016 presidential election cycle. Our ?ndings, which are detailed below, 1) raise concerns with
the legitimacy and legality of certain DOJ and FBI interactions with the Foreign Intelligence
Surveillance Court (FISC), and 2) represent a troubling breakdown of legal processes established
to protect the American people from abuses related to the ISA process.
- On October 21, 2016, DOJ and FBI sought and received a ISA probable cause order
(up; under Title VII) authorizing electronic surveillance on Carter Page from the FISC. Page is a
US citizen who served as a volunteer advisor to the Trump presidential campaign. Consistent .
with requirements under FISA, the application had to be ?rst certi?ed by the Director or Deputy
Director of the FBI. It then required the approval of the Attorney General, Deputy Attorney
General (DAG), or the Senate?con?rmed Assistant Attorney General for the National Security
The FBI and DOJ obtained one initial FISA warrant targeting Carter Page and three FISA
renewals from the FISC. As required by statute (50 U.S.C. a FISA order on an
American citizen must be renewed by the ISC every 90 days and each renewal requires a
separate finding of probable cause. Then-Director James Comey signed three FISA applications
. in question on behalf of the FBI, and Deputy Director Andrew McCabe signed one.
Sally Yates, then-Acting DAG Dana Boente, and DAG Rod Rosenstein each signed one or more
FISA applications on behalf of
Due to the sensitive nature of foreign intelligence activity, FISA submissions (including
renewals) before the ISC are classified. As such, the public?s con?dence in the integrity of the
FISA process depends on the court?s ability to hold the government to the highest standard??
particularly as it relates to surveillance of American citizens. However, the rigor in
protecting the rights of Americans, which is reinforced by 90?day renewals of surveillance
orders, is necessarily dependent on the government?s production to the court of all material and
relevant facts. This should include information potentially favorable to the target of the FISA
PROPERTY OF THE U.S. HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES
application that is known by the government. In the case of Carter Page, the government had at
least four independent opportunities before the FISC to accurately provide an accounting of the
relevant facts. However, our ?ndings indicate that, as described below, material and relevant
information was omitted.
The ?dossier?- compiled by Christopher Steele (Steele dossier) on behalf of the
Democratic National Committee (DNC) and the Hillary Clinton campaign formed an
essential part of the Carter Page FISA application. Steele was a longtime FBI source who
was paid over $160,000 by the DNC and Clinton campaign, via the law ?rm Perkins Coie
and research ?rm Fusion GPS, to obtain derogatory information on Donald Trump?s ties
a) Neither the initial application in October 2016, nor any of the renewals, disclose or
reference the role of the DNC, Clinton campaign, or. any party/campaign in funding
Steele?s efforts, even though the political origins of the Steele dossier were then
known to senior and FBI of?cials.
b) The initial FISA application notes Steele was working for a named US. person, but
does not name Fusion GPS and principal Glenn Simpson, who was paid by a US. law
?rm (Perkins Coie) representing the DNC (even though it was known by DOI at the,
time that political actors were involved with the Steele dossier). The application does
not mention Steele was ultimately working on behalf of?and paid by?wthe DNC and
Clinton campaign, or that the FBI had separately authorized payment to Steele for the
The Carter Page FISA application also cited extensively a September 23, 2016, Yahoo
News article by- Michael Isikoff, which focuses on Page?s July 2016 trip to Moscow.
- This article does not corroborate the Steele dossier because it is derived from information
leaked by Steele himself to Yahoo News. The Page FISA application incorrectly assesses
that Steele did not directly provide information to Yahoo News. Steele has admitted in
British court ?lings that he met with Yahoo Newly?and several other. outlets?in
September 2016 at the direction of Fusion GPS. Perkins Coie was aware of Steele?s
initial media contacts because they hosted at least one meeting in Washington DC. in
2016 with Steele and Fusion GPS where this matter was discussed."
a) Steele was suspended and then terminated as an FBI source for what the FBI de?nes
as the most serious of violations?an unauthorized disclosure to the media of his
relationship with the FBI in an October 30, 2016, Mother Jones article by David
Corn Steele should have been terminated for his previous undisclosed contacts with
Yahoo and other outlets' 1n September?before the Page application was submitted to
PROPERTY OF THE US. HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES
the FISC in October-but Steele improperly concealed from and lied to the FBI about
b) Steele?s numerous encounters with the media violated the cardinal rule of source
handling?maintaining con?dentiality?and demonstrated that Steele had become a
less than reliable source for the FBI.
Before and after Steele was terminated as a source, he maintained contact with DOJ via
then-Associate Deputy Attorney General Bruce 0hr, a senior DOJ of?cial who worked
closely with Deputy Attorneys General Yates and later Rosenstein. Shortly after the
election, the FBI began interviewing 0hr, documenting his communications with Steele.
For example, in September 2016, Steele admitted to 0hr his feelings against then-
candidate Trump when Steele said he ?was desperate that Donald Trump not get
elected and was passionate about him not, being president.? This clear evidence of .
Steele? bias was recorded by Ohr at the time and subsequently in of?cial FBI ?les?but
not re?ected in any of the Page FISA applications.
a) During this same time period, Ohr?s wife was employed by Fusion GPS to assist in
the cultivation of opposition research on Trump. Ohr later provided the FBI with all
of his wife?s opposition research, paid for by the DNC and Clinton campaign via
Fusion GPS. The Ohrs? relationship with Steele and Fusion GPS was inexplicably
concealed from the FISC. .
According to the head of the counterintelligence division, Assistant Director Bill
Priestap, corroboration of the Steele dossier was in its ?infancy? at the time of the initial
Page FISA application. After Steele was terminated, a source validation report conducted
by an independent unit within FBI assessed Steele?s reporting as only minimally
corroborated. Yet, in early January 2017, Director Comey briefed President-elect Trump
on a summary of the Steele dossier, even though it was??according to his June 2017
and unveri?ed.? While the FISA application relied on Steele?s
past record of credible reporting on other unrelated matters, it ignored or concealed his
anti?Trump ?nancial and ideological motivations. Furthermore, Deputy Director
McCabe testi?ed before the Committee in December 2017 that no surveillance warrant
would have been sought from the FISC without the Steele dossier information.
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PROPERTY OF THE U.S. HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES
5) The Page FISA application also mentions information regarding fellow Trump campaign
advisor George Papadopoulos, but there is no evidence of any cooperation or conspiracy
between Page and Papadopoulos. The Papadopoulos information triggered the opening
of an FBI counterintelligence investigation in late July 2016 by FBI agent Pete Strzok.
Strzok was reassigned by the Special Counsel?s Office to FBI Human Resources for
improper text messages with his mistress, FBI Attorney Lisa Page (no known relation to
Carter Page), where they both demonstrated a clear bias against Trump and in favor of
Clinton, Whom Strzok had also investigated. The Strzok/Lisa Page texts also re?ect
extensive discussions about the investigation, orchestrating leaks to the media, and
include a meeting with Deputy Director McCabe to discuss an ?insurance? policy against
President Trump?s election.
PROPERTY OF THE U.S. HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES