Democrats release rebuttal to Republican memo

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- Reuters pic WASHINGTON, Feb 25 ― Democratic lawmakers released a partially-redacted rebuttal yesterday of a controversial Republican memo alleging bias and abuse of power in the investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 USA presidential election.

The redacted 10-page document, aimed at countering a similar memo from the House Republicans, was released over the weekend after Trump's White House initially blocked its publishing.

Democrats on the House intelligence committee on Saturday released the memo in an effort to rebut GOP claims that the FBI abused USA government surveillance powers in its investigation into Russian election interference.

Corroborated information about Page is redacted from the Democratic memo.

DOJ provided the Court with a comprehensive explanation of Russia's election interference including evidence that Russia courted another Trump foreign policy advisor, George Papadopoulos, and that Russian agents previewed their dissemination of information damaging to Hillary Clinton.

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The Department of Justice never paid Steele for the dossier: It was previously stated in the GOP memo that the DOJ paid Steele for his information on the dossier, but the released memo states that "Steele ultimately never received payment from the Federal Bureau of Investigation for dossier related information".

The Democrats also said the Justice Department's October 21, 2016, application to the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court for warrants to monitor Page and three subsequent renewals offered "a multipronged rationale for surveilling Page", who by then had left Trump's campaign.

The House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence (HPSCI) finally released the Democratic rebuttal to the GOP FISA memo moments before HPSCI Chairman Devin Nunes took the stage at CPAC late Saturday afternoon. Page had been assessed to be "an agent of the Russian government", the Democratic memo asserts, and the Justice Department was acting to protect national security.

Saturday's release came as Nunes was addressing the Conservative Political Action Committee , an annual Republican conference.

In a botched attempt to use information from Fox News to attack the Democrat's rebuttal to the infamous GOP memo, President Donald Trump removed numerous words from a quote by one of the network's anchors to paint Rep. Adam Schiff as "a total phony".

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"We really wanted it out because it's clear evidence that the Democrats are trying to actually not only collude, but they're colluding with a cover-up".

The new memo alleges that Page was targeted for recruitment in 2013 by two Russians who had been indicted by the USA government.

The counterintelligence investigation into Page, the memo continues, was not initiated by reporting from Steele, but instead started seven weeks earlier. Page continued to have extensive contacts with Russians, including making trips to Moscow in July and December 2016. That memo alleged opposition research on Mr. Trump that was partly funded by the Democratic Party was the driving. They say the GOP memo is designed as a distraction from the probe, which is looking into whether Trump's campaign was in any way connected to the Russian interference. But congressional Democrats and Republicans, including House Speaker Paul Ryan and Rep. Trey Gowdy of SC, who helped draft the GOP memo, have said it shouldn't be used to undermine the special counsel.

The minority's memo has two key points. It also says the application did indicate that Steele had political motivations, even though it didn't explicitly say he was working on behalf of another political party. Democrats also failed to unite behind a candidate in the race against Republican Rep. Steve Knight, who represents parts of Los Angeles and Ventura counties.

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