Two-Party Politics – Dangers Ahead

I fear that a foundational function of our American political system is being harmed by our current political morass. It will surely upset my friends with Green Party and Libertarian leanings, but I firmly believe the Two-Party system in American politics has been the underpinning of stability and functionality for most of our history. I fear that Mr. Trump is wounding one of the legs of that two-party system. I hope the wound is not mortal. I also hope that a threatened schism between the moderate and progressive wings of the Democratic Party does not further split political focus and lead to an opportunist and chaotic interplay between those two Democratic wings and the moderate, conservative, and populist sects in the Republican Party.

It is interesting to look at the evolution of political parties in the USA. The movement from Federalist, Whig, Democrat, liberal Republican, centrist and conservative Democratic, activist Republican, big-business Democrat, populist Democrat, big-business Republican, New Deal Democrat, conservative Republican, liberal Democrat, moderate Republican, Conservative Republican, moderate/activist Democrat, and so on, has been a constant interplay between two sides. As the winds of change came along, one party or the other took the lead in changing the status quo. It was the crazy upstart Republicans that were the motive force behind anti-slavery with the Democrats assuaging the concerns of the Southern brethren to obstruct change. The Republicans moved to a more conservative, business-oriented focus and Teddy Roosevelt had to struggle and control a two-headed culture in his Republican Party where the remaining liberal remnants found themselves pushed out by the big-business economic cult. Woodrow Wilson was the last gasp for the conservative wing of the Democrats at the top of the national spotlight, but the old conservative Southern Democrats held out until the 1960s in a party where they had become an anachronism.

When the Republicans found themselves faced with the juggernaut of a liberal Democrat, FDR, getting elected to the White House four times straight, they rebelled and convinced America that this kind of dominance was undemocratic and when they retook power they passed a constitutional amendment that no President could be re-elected more than once. When the Republican Party started moving far right, the people gave their warning that they were more comfortable in the middle in 1964. But, immediately thereafter, in 1972, those same American voters said they were not very happy with a move too far left from the center.

All along it was the presence of two parties with varying but often equal hold on the political thoughts of our populace that kept America on a stable path forward. Sometimes liberal, sometimes conservative, often moderate, but always with a place for honest disagreement and contribution from both sides for the common good. Along the way, there have been a few aberrant moments like McCarthyism, Lyndon Larouche, George Wallace, etc., but the moderating force of the two-party approach served to let people voice how they wanted change to occur, or not occur.

From 1994 onward, there was a growing movement within the Republican Party in the guise of the Tea Party, and then the Birthers, and finally the Trump supporters to try and move the Republican Party from the Reagan-era conservatism to a populist focus that had been foretold by the upstart presidential try of Ross Perot in 1992-1996. (As an aside, did any of you know the Perot died last year. It was not widely reported.) This populist movement within the Republican Party in the age of social media and Internet communications was ripe for someone to claim it. With the Birther concept, Donald Trump found a perfect niche to exploit the constant milieu of change that has propelled American political parties for two centuries.

Trump latched onto the Birther scheme and made a name for himself in politics. As a supposed business genius, he had already made a splash in reality TV. A study of Trump’s rise will fuel many political science books and papers for the next century and is too complex to dissect here. That Trump was a somewhat artificial construct as a Republican, fueled a false mem that he had once said if he ran for President he would run as a Republican since they are the “dumbest.” That meme was false and the closest he ever came to that was telling Oprah, in 1988, he probably would never run, and in another interview that he was too busy to run. As a New Yorker with most of his connections to liberal personalities, Trump, however, as far back as 1987. had identified himself as Republican. His business dealings and things such as his advocacy of an ultra-conservative (call it racist) position in the Central Park Five matter all pointed to a political positioning not antithetical to being a Republican. In 2016, Trump took advantage of the crowded, highly divided Republican candidate field and adeptly took hold of the populist undercurrent left in the American political mindset by Perot, the Tea Party, and the Birther movement to take control of the Republican Party from its conservative power base. He adopted just enough tenets of conservative Republicanism, such as lower taxes, to assuage the conservative base. But, he adeptly, parleyed his grip on the populist undercurrent to reinvent another aberration in the two-party system, the Know-Nothing Party. In 1854, the Know-Nothings actually had about 20% of the seats in the US Congress, but they disappeared and were absorbed by the Democrats in order to offset the upstart liberal Republicans. In the 1850s, the Know-Nothing Party had built a strong third party on a platform that called for limitations on immigration, the exclusion of foreign-born Americans from voting or holding public office, and a 21-year residency requirement for citizenship. The Know-Nothing party was also hostile to elites, and to expertise and foreign connections, and was deeply suspicious of outsiders and academics. Does that sound like anything you have heard of lately?

Fast forward to 2020, when Trump has so undercut the conservative power base of the traditional Republican Party that they appear frightened to stand up for what they have always stood for. We face the current (mid-November 2020) political void left by the silence of a thousand Republican leaders in the face of the near-autocratic scheme Trump is pulling with the election outcome and the damage it is doing to our nation. This situation is what frightens me — not that Trump will succeed, but that his effort will so damage the traditional Republican Party that it will undercut the two-party system in coming years. Both parties have undergone a radical metamorphosis in the past, sometimes switching places entirely. Third-party upstarts, like the Know-Nothings, Bull Moose, Perot’s Reform, etc., have appeared and disappeared over time. This may happen again. However, we live in very extraordinary times. The pandemic has pointed out how fragile our way of life is. Climate change threatens to destroy our livelihood. Economic pressures are ever-increasing. The established economic and political system in America is not working well for a huge segment of the American people. Trump seeks to energize a part of that segment, but his quasi-racist, anti-science, often hateful positions, and ethics alienate another huge part of that segment. A large group of the Democratic Party is pushing for political change to address the economic disparity and climate woes. Biden is caught between the mainstream moderate Democrats, the people of color, the old labor-oriented power base, and the more radical wing of Sanders that is not afraid to say “democratic socialist.” At the same time, the moderate to conservative Republicans of the ilk of Romney and Kasich must deal with the personality cult of the populist movement Trump has invented, whether you want to call them “Deplorables” or “Know-Nothings.” At the same time, the Republicans have still not dealt with the schism between the moderate and conservative wings therein, so there are three forces in the Republican Party at work, the moderates, the conservatives, and the Trump populists. It seems that both sides of the traditional two-party system are being pulled in two or more directions, with moderates and traditionalists in both parties being beset by a radical wing and politically dynamic forces from within.

Thus, you can see my reason for concern. In this world of enormous pressures and problems, the normal bilateral tête-à-tête that has allowed the two-party system to work so well for 230 years has powerful political forces within each party that are headed in multiple different directions. The moderates of Obama’s ilk are in many ways closer to the moderates in the Republican Party like Kasich, than they are to those on the far left who think Sanders failed by not pushing harder to the left. The Trump populists are happy to use the political platform the traditional Republican Party gave Trump, but large parts of Trumpists raison d’être has nothing much to do with traditional Republican Party platforms from even as recently as the Reagan-Bush years. Reagan wanted to tear down walls, not build them. Biden wants to bring everyone together, but the Trumpists want nothing to do with compromise, any more than the Occupy Wall Street/Defund Police wing of Biden’s party does. The American People did not give Biden any mandate for radical change, all he received was a mandate to lead us away from Trump’s chaos and back to some sense of normalcy. On top of that, the Trumpists are building a false-front mindset that denies that there was any kind of mandate to Biden, because “Trump won!” The attack on our electoral system by Trump and his odd set of radicals is particularly dangerous in a time when the traditional strength of a two-party system cannot be counted on.

The Dismissal of CAPT Crozier: Military Command Responsibility in the Age of Coronavirus

Those who know me and my opinions well may be surprised at the opinion I give below. Those people should remember that besides being an attorney and political creature that I spent the first half of my life as a military officer. Sometimes the lessons I learned in uniform skew my legal opinions.

I have to disagree with those who object to CAPT Brett Crozier being relieved of duty for publicizing the COVID19 status of the crew of the USS Theodore Roosevelt.  (See MSNBC report on the nuclear powered aircraft carrier situation)

CAPT Crozier was not removed from command because he tried get help for his men, he was removed from command because he violated very basic instructions every naval officer learns very early in a career. The Navy has a system called the CASREP system (Casualty Report) where a Navy commander is required to report any condition that damages the ability of his command to do any part of their mission. It can be anything as simple as a necessary piece of equipment being broken to personnel injuries to battle damage. It is a basic part of keeping the chain of command informed of a unit’s mission readiness.

My commanding officer once had to send in CASREP because I and about eight other junior officers went to a nice restaurant in Colombo, Sri Lanka and ate Chicken Kiev that was “bad” and we were hors de combat with food poisoning for ten days afterward, so CAPT Martin had to do a CASREP that 50% of his watchstanding junior officers were confined to our cabins and hugging porcelain plumbing fixtures quite regularly. A CASREP goes directly to the entire Chain of Command to the extent that the senior officers need to know the mission of a Navy Unit is impugned. In our case, the fact that a nuclear weapons carrying guided missile cruiser on deployment in the Indian Ocean was incapable of fielding a full battle-ready officer corps was such that the Chief of Naval Operations himself and everybody in between had to get the report on my buddies and my gastric difficulties.

SO, the USS Theodore Roosevelt is a nuclear powered and nuclear weapon capable ship carrying 100+ frontline aircraft and the greatest ability to project force af any single military unit in the US Military. A report by CAPT Crozier that 133+ sailors and officers on the Roosevelt were ill with COVOD19 would be required to go to COM 7th Fleet, COMNAVSURFPAC, COMNAVAIRPAC and the CNO himself. CAPT Crozier’s personal estimate of the situation is the most important part of a standard CASREP report. A properly submitted CASREP on the USS Theodore Roosevelt would have gotten to every possible level of the US Navy’s leadership.

Oh, and one more important point, a proper CASREP would be classified in accordance with the importance of the mission being reported about. But, instead of (or perhaps, in addition to) a proper legally required CASREP, CAPT Crozier sent a five page diatribe with unnecessary hyperbole to not only the chain of command but other offices that was virtually guaranteed to get released to the press/media.

AND, his letter was not classified to protect the information that one third of the US Navy’s war-fighting ability in the Far East was soon to be out of action. Within day or two, North Korean dictator Kim Jong Il knew he did not have to worry about the Theodore Roosevelt as much and the Chinese and Russians knew as much about the USS Roosevelt’s ability to fight a war and respond to a foreign threat as the Pentagon did. Commander of a nuclear powered aircraft carrier is probably the most sacred and difficult duty a naval officer can be assigned. His superiors need to know he will meticulously and precisely carry out his duties in accordance with their orders. The CASREP regulation is one of those orders.

CAPT Crozier’s heart was in the right place, but he is not paid to have his heart in the right place, he is paid to have his carrier in the right place and safe. He compromised the security of information about this ability to carry out his mission. He violated a sacred understanding of respecting the chain of command. He intentionally acted in a way that appears to have been intended to draw public attention, which was both an embarrassment and a danger to his command. He managed to handle a serious problem in a way that seems to have caused morale problems on his ship. Getting himself removed from command did not help his crew nor his mission.

Lastly, a commanding officer of a naval unit has a very powerful tool to handle just this kind of problem; it is called “UNODIR.” That stands for “Unless Otherwise Directed” which is followed by the C.O’s explanation of what he intends to do to handle the problem. If the COVID19 infection onboard his ship was so severe that something must be immediately done, CAPT Crozier had the ability to do things that only the C.O. of a naval ship can do, which is whatever he deems necessary for the safety of his ship and crew. In the CASREP he submitted he should have listed what action he was intending to take to protect his crew and let the chain of command either accept it or tell him otherwise. If he did not like the “otherwise” he could have resigned. See

Trump’s New Space Force “Idea” is Probably in Violation of International Treaty

Donald Trump’s announcement of the creation of a “Space Force” to join the other US military services would seem to be in direct contravention of a long-standing treaty which the US is a party to that forbids the militarization of space.

For a guy who employs so many, many attorneys, it seems strange that Donald Trump never seems to ask them about the legalities of something before he blunders in and announces a new policy. Fortunately for the world, an executive order by the President cannot overrule a treaty already ratified by the US Senate.

Outer Space Treaty, formally Treaty on Principles Governing the Activities of States in the Exploration and Use of Outer Space, Including the Moon and Other Celestial Bodies, (1967), international treaty binding the parties to use outer space only for peaceful purposes. In June 1966 the United States and the Soviet Union submitted draft treaties on the uses of space to the United Nations. These were reconciled during several months of negotiation in the Legal Subcommittee of the UN Committee on the Peaceful Uses of Outer Space, and the resulting document was endorsed by the UN General Assembly on Dec. 19, 1966, and opened for signature on Jan. 27, 1967. The treaty came into force on Oct. 10, 1967, after being ratified by the United States, the Soviet Union, the United Kingdom, and several other countries.

Under the terms of the treaty, the parties are prohibited from placing nuclear arms or other weapons of mass destruction in orbit, on the Moon, or on other bodies in space. Nations cannot claim sovereignty over the Moon or other celestial bodies. Nations are responsible for their activities in space, are liable for any damage caused by objects launched into space from their territory, and are bound to assist astronauts in distress. Their space installations and vehicles shall be open, on a reciprocal basis, to representatives of other countries, and all parties agree to conduct outer-space activities openly and in accordance with international law.

The Treaty has several provisions that are in direct conflict with concepts Trump spoke of when ordering the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs to create the new Space Force. Specifically, the Treaty forbids nuclear weapon s or other weapons of mass destruction in space. It requires space be used for only peaceful purposes and states clearly ” The establishment of military bases, installations and fortifications, the testing of any type of weapons and the conduct of military manoeuvres on celestial bodies shall be forbidden. ” Also, Trump’s dream of outer space military operations seems to be blighted by the provisions that “All stations, installations, equipment and space vehicles on the moon and other celestial bodies shall be open to representatives of other States Parties to the Treaty on a basis of reciprocity.”

Hopefully, the Department of Defense attorneys and Congress will nip this silly idea in the bud. The current U.S. Air Force Space Command is doing a fine job carrying out any military defense activities that are needed and NASA is carrying out its tasks of space exploration as a civilian function, specifically designed as such, even at the height of the Cold War in the late 1950″s

Also see,

Text of the “Space” Treaty follows:

The Outer Space Treaty of 1967


Treaty on principles governing the activities of states in the exploration and use of outer space, including the moon and other celestial bodies.

Opened for signature at Moscow, London, and Washington on 27 January, 1967


INSPIRED by the great prospects opening up before mankind as a result of man’s entry into outer space,

RECOGNIZING the common interest of all mankind in the progress of the exploration and use of outer space for peaceful purposes,

BELIEVING that the exploration and use of outer space should be carried on for the benefit of all peoples irrespective of the degree of their economic or scientific development,

DESIRING to contribute to broad international co-operation in the scientific as well as the legal aspects of the exploration and use of outer space for peaceful purposes,

BELIEVING that such co-operation will contribute to the development of mutual understanding and to the strengthening of friendly relations between States and peoples,

RECALLING resolution 1962 (XVIII), entitled “Declaration of Legal Principles Governing the Activities of States in the Exploration and Use of Outer Space”, which was adopted unanimously by the United Nations General Assembly on 13 December 1963,

RECALLING resolution 1884 (XVIII), calling upon States to refrain from placing in orbit around the earth any objects carrying nuclear weapons or any other kinds of weapons of mass destruction or from installing such weapons on celestial bodies, which was adopted unanimously by the United Nations General Assembly on 17 October 1963,

TAKING account of United Nations General Assembly resolution 110 (II) of 3 November 1947, which condemned propaganda designed or likely to provoke or encourage any threat to the peace, breach of the peace or act of aggression, and considering that the aforementioned resolution is applicable to outer space,

CONVINCED that a Treaty on Principles Governing the Activities of States in the Exploration and Use of Outer Space, including the Moon and Other Celestial Bodies, will further the Purposes and Principles of the Charter of the United Nations,



Article I

The exploration and use of outer space, including the moon and other celestial bodies, shall be carried out for the benefit and in the interests of all countries, irrespective of their degree of economic or scientific development, and shall be the province of all mankind.

Outer space, including the moon and other celestial bodies, shall be free for exploration and use by all States without discrimination of any kind, on a basis of equality and in accordance with international law, and there shall be free access to all areas of celestial bodies.

There shall be freedom of scientific investigation in outer space, including the moon and other celestial bodies, and States shall facilitate and encourage international co-operation in such investigation.

Article II

Outer space, including the moon and other celestial bodies, is not subject to national appropriation by claim of sovereignty, by means of use or occupation, or by any other means.

Article III

States Parties to the Treaty shall carry on activities in the exploration and use of outer space, including the moon and other celestial bodies, in accordance with international law, including the Charter of the United Nations, in the interest of maintaining international peace and security and promoting international co- operation and understanding.

Article IV

States Parties to the Treaty undertake not to place in orbit around the earth any objects carrying nuclear weapons or any other kinds of weapons of mass destruction, install such weapons on celestial bodies, or station such weapons in outer space in any other manner.

The moon and other celestial bodies shall be used by all States Parties to the Treaty exclusively for peaceful purposes. The establishment of military bases, installations and fortifications, the testing of any type of weapons and the conduct of military manoeuvres on celestial bodies shall be forbidden. The use of military personnel for scientific research or for any other peaceful purposes shall not be prohibited. The use of any equipment or facility necessary for peaceful exploration of the moon and other celestial bodies shall also not be prohibited.

Article V

States Parties to the Treaty shall regard astronauts as envoys of mankind in outer space and shall render to them all possible assistance in the event of accident, distress, or emergency landing on the territory of another State Party or on the high seas. When astronauts make such a landing, they shall be safely and promptly returned to the State of registry of their space vehicle.

In carrying on activities in outer space and on celestial bodies, the astronauts of one State Party shall render all possible assistance to the astronauts of other States Parties.

States Parties to the Treaty shall immediately inform the other States Parties to the Treaty or the Secretary-General of the United Nations of any phenomena they discover in outer space, including the moon and other celestial bodies, which could constitute a danger to the life or health of astronauts.

Article VI

States Parties to the Treaty shall bear international responsibility for national activities in outer space, including the moon and other celestial bodies, whether such activities are carried on by governmental agencies or by non-governmental entities, and for assuring that national activities are carried out in conformity with the provisions set forth in the present Treaty. The activities of non-governmental entities in outer space, including the moon and other celestial bodies, shall require authorization and continuing supervision by the appropriate State Party to the Treaty. When activities are carried on in outer space, including the moon and other celestial bodies, by an international organization, responsibility for compliance with this Treaty shall be borne both by the international organization and by the States Parties to the Treaty participating in such organization.

Article VII

Each State Party to the Treaty that launches or procures the launching of an object into outer space, including the moon and other celestial bodies, and each State Party from whose territory or facility an object is launched, is internationally liable for damage to another State Party to the Treaty or to its natural or juridical persons by such object or its component parts on the Earth, in air space or in outer space, including the moon and other celestial bodies.

Article VIII

A State Party to the Treaty on whose registry an object launched into outer space is carried shall retain jurisdiction and control over such object, and over any personnel thereof, while in outer space or on a celestial body. Ownership of objects launched into outer space, including objects landed or constructed on a celestial body, and of their component parts, is not affected by their presence in outer space or on a celestial body or by their return to the Earth. Such objects or component parts found beyond the limits of the State Party of the Treaty on whose registry they are carried shall be returned to that State Party, which shall, upon request, furnish identifying data prior to their return.

Article IX

In the exploration and use of outer space, including the moon and other celestial bodies, States Parties to the Treaty shall be guided by the principle of co-operation and mutual assistance and shall conduct all their activities in outer space, including the moon and other celestial bodies, with due regard to the corresponding interests of all other States Parties to the Treaty. States Parties to the Treaty shall pursue studies of outer space, including the moon and other celestial bodies, and conduct exploration of them so as to avoid their harmful contamination and also adverse changes in the environment of the Earth resulting from the introduction of extraterrestrial matter and, where necessary, shall adopt appropriate measures for this purpose. If a State Party to the Treaty has reason to believe that an activity or experiment planned by it or its nationals in outer space, including the moon and other celestial bodies, would cause potentially harmful interference with activities of other States Parties in the peaceful exploration and use of outer space, including the moon and other celestial bodies, it shall undertake appropriate international consultations before proceeding with any such activity or experiment. A State Party to the Treaty which has reason to believe that an activity or experiment planned by another State Party in outer space, including the moon and other celestial bodies, would cause potentially harmful interference with activities in the peaceful exploration and use of outer space, including the moon and other celestial bodies, may request consultation concerning the activity or experiment.

Article X

In order to promote international co-operation in the exploration and use of outer space, including the moon and other celestial bodies, in conformity with the purposes of this Treaty, the States Parties to the Treaty shall consider on a basis of equality any requests by other States Parties to the Treaty to be afforded an opportunity to observe the flight of space objects launched by those States.

The nature of such an opportunity for observation and the conditions under which it could be afforded shall be determined by agreement between the States concerned.

Article XI

In order to promote international co-operation in the peaceful exploration and use of outer space, States Parties to the Treaty conducting activities in outer space, including the moon and other celestial bodies, agree to inform the Secretary-General of the United Nations as well as the public and the international scientific community, to the greatest extent feasible and practicable, of the nature, conduct, locations and results of such activities. On receiving the said information, the Secretary-General of the United Nations should be prepared to disseminate it immediately and effectively.

Article XII

All stations, installations, equipment and space vehicles on the moon and other celestial bodies shall be open to representatives of other States Parties to the Treaty on a basis of reciprocity. Such representatives shall give reasonable advance notice of a projected visit, in order that appropriate consultations may be held and that maximum precautions may be taken to assure safety and to avoid interference with normal operations in the facility to be visited.

Article XIII

The provisions of this Treaty shall apply to the activities of States Parties to the Treaty in the exploration and use of outer space, including the moon and other celestial bodies, whether such activities are carried on by a single State Party to the Treaty or jointly with other States, including cases where they are carried on within the framework of international inter-governmental organizations.

Any practical questions arising in connexion with activities carried on by international inter-governmental organizations in the exploration and use of outer space, including the moon and other celestial bodies, shall be resolved by the States Parties to the Treaty either with the appropriate international organization or with one or more States members of that international organization, which are Parties to this Treaty.

Article XIV

  1. This Treaty shall be open to all States for signature. Any State which does not sign this Treaty before its entry into force in accordance with paragraph 3 of this Article may accede to it at any time.
  2. This Treaty shall be subject to ratification by signatory States. Instruments of ratification and instruments of accession shall be deposited with the Governments of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland, the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics and the United States of America, which are hereby designated the Depositary Governments.
  3. This Treaty shall enter into force upon the deposit of instruments of ratification by five Governments including the Governments designated as Depositary Governments under this Treaty.
  4. For States whose instruments of ratification or accession are deposited subsequent to the entry into force of this Treaty, it shall enter into force on the date of the deposit of their instruments of ratification or accession.
  5. The Depositary Governments shall promptly inform all signatory and acceding States of the date of each signature, the date of deposit of each instrument of ratification of and accession to this Treaty, the date of its entry into force and other notices.
  6. This Treaty shall be registered by the Depositary Governments pursuant to Article 102 of the Charter of the United Nations.

Article XV

Any State Party to the Treaty may propose amendments to this Treaty. Amendments shall enter into force for each State Party to the Treaty accepting the amendments upon their acceptance by a majority of the States Parties to the Treaty and thereafter for each remaining State Party to the Treaty on the date of acceptance by it.

Article XVI

Any State Party to the Treaty may give notice of its withdrawal from the Treaty one year after its entry into force by written notification to the Depositary Governments. Such withdrawal shall take effect one year from the date of receipt of this notification.

Article XVII

This Treaty, of which the Chinese, English, French, Russian and Spanish texts are equally authentic, shall be deposited in the archives of the Depositary Governments. Duly certified copies of this Treaty shall be transmitted by the Depositary Governments to the Governments of the signatory and acceding States.


IN WITNESS WHEREOF the undersigned, duly authorised, have signed this Treaty.

DONE in triplicate, at the cities of London, Moscow and Washington, the twenty-seventh day of January, one thousand nine hundred and sixty-seven.


Democratic Response to House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence Republican Memo

Converted from PDF to Word doc to post.

Republican memo is prior post.



TO: All Members of the House of Representatives

FROM: HPSCl Minority

DATE: January 29, 2018

RE: Correcting the Record – The Russia Investigations


The HPSCI Majority ‘ s move to release to the House of Representatives its allegations against the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) and the De partment of Justice (DOJ) is a transparent effort to undermine those agencies, the Special Counsel, and Congress’ investigations. It also risks public exposure of sensitive sources and methods for no legitimate purpose.

FBI and DOJ officials did not ” abuse” the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) process, omit material information, or subvert this vital tool to spy on the Trump campaign.

In fact, DOJ and the FBI would have been remiss in their duty to protect the country had they not sought a FISA warrant and repeated renewals to conduct temporary surveillance of Carter Page, someone the FBI assessed to be an agent of the Russian government. DOJ met the rigor, transparency. and evidentiary basis needed to meet FISA’s probable cause requirement, by demonstrating:

  • contemporaneous evidence of Russia’s election interference;
  • concerning Russian links and outreach to Trump campaign officials;
  • Page’s history with Russian intelligence; and

o                                          I Page’s suspicious activities in 2016, including in Moscow.

The Committee’s Minority has therefore prepared this memorandum to correct the record:


  • Christopher Steele’s raw intelligence reporting did not inform the FBl’s decision to initiate its counterintelligence investigation in late July 2016. In fact, the FBI’s closely­ held investigative team only received Steele ‘ s reporting in mid-September – more than seven weeks later . The FBI – and, subsequently, the Special Counsel’s – investigation into links between the Russian government and Trump campaign associates  has been based on troubling law enforcement and intelligence information unrelated to the “dossier .”


  • DOJ’s October 21, 2016 FISA application and three subsequent renewals carefully outlined for the Court a multi-pronged rationale for surveilling Page, who, at the time of the first application, was no longer with the Trump campaign.  DOJ detailed  Page’s past relationships with Russian spies and interaction with Russian officials during the 2016 campaign,                    . DOJ cited multiple sources to support the case for surveilling Page –                                  but made only narrow use of information from Steele’s sources about Page’s specific activities in 2016, chiefly his suspected July 2016 meeting s in Moscow with Russian                                         . In fact,

the FBI interviewed Page in March 20 I6 about his contact with Russian intelligence, the very month candidate Donald Trump named him a foreign policy advisor.

As DOJ informed the Court in subsequent renewals,

Steele’s reporting about Page’s Moscow meetings

applications did nQ! otherwise rely on Steele’s reporting, including any “salacious” allegations







about Trump, and the FBI never paid Steele for this reporting. While explaining why the FBI viewed Steele’s reporting and sources as reliable and credible, DOJ also disclosed:

  • Steele’s prior relationship with the FBI;
  • the fact of and reason for his termination as a source; and
  • the assessed political  motivation of those who hired


  • The Committee Majority’s memorandum, which draws selectively on highly sensitive classified information, includes other distortions and misrepresentations that are contradicted by the underlying classified documents, which the vast majority of Members of the Committee and the House have not had the opportunity to review – and which Chairman Nunes chose not to read 1




On January 18, 2018, the Committee Majority, during an unrelated business meeting, forced a surprise vote to release to the full House a profoundly misleading memorandum alleging serious abuses by the FBI and DOJ. Majority staff drafted the document in secret on behalf of Chairman Devin Nunes (and reportedly  with guidance and  input from Rep. Trey Gowdy), and then rushed a party-line vote without prior notice.


This was by design. The overwhelming majority of Committee Members never received DOJ authorization to access the underlying classified infonnation, and therefore could not judge the veracity of Chairman Nunes’ claims. Due to sensitive sources and methods, DOJ provided access only to the Committee’s Chair and Ranking Member (or respective designees), and  limited staff, to facilitate the Committee’s investigation into Russia’s covert campaign to influence the 2016

U.S. elections. 2  As DOJ has confirmed  publicly, it did not authorize the broader release of this

infonnation within Congress or to the public , and Chairman Nunes refused to allow DOJ and the FBI to review his document until he permitted the FBI Director to see it for the first time in HPSCI’s secure spaces late on Sunday, January 28 – IO days after disclosure to the House. 3


FBl’s Counterintelligence Investigation


In its October 2016 FISA application and subsequent renewals, DOJ accurately informed the Court that the FBI initiated its counterintelligence investigation on July 31, 20I6, after receiving information                                                            . George Papadopoulos revealed

–            that individuals linked to Russia, who took interest in Papadopoulos as a campaign foreign policy adviser, informed him in late April 2016 that Russia


_.      Papadopoulos’s disclosure, moreover, occurred against the backdrop of Russia’s aggressive covert campaign  to  influence our elections, which the FBI was already monitoring. We would later learn  in Papadopoulos’s plea that that the information the Russians could assist by anonymously releasing were thousands of Hillary Clinton’s emails . 5


DOJ told the Court the truth. Its representation was consistent with the FBl’s underlying investigative record, which current and former senior officials later corroborated in extensive








Committee testimony. Christopher Steele’s reporting, which he began to share with an FBI agent

  • through the end of October played no role in launching the FBl’s counterintelligence investigation into Russian interference and links to the Trump campaign. In fact, Steele’s reporting did not reach the counterintelligence team investigating Russia at FBf headquarters untiI mid-September 20 I6, more weeks after the FBI opened its investigation, because the probe’s existence was so closely held within the FBI.6 By then, the FBI had already opened sub-inquiries into – individuals linked to the Trump


As Committee testimony bears out, the FBI would have continued its investigation, including against- individuals, even if it had never received information from Steele, never applied fora FlSA warrant against Page, or if the FISC had rejected the application. 7


DOJ’s FISA Application and Renewals


The initial warrant application and subsequ .£l renewals received independent scrutiny and

approval by four different federal judges, thi-ee of whom were appointed by President George W. Ov\( l,’f

Bush and one by President  Ronald Reagan. DOJ first applied to the FISC on October 21, 2016       t1u w <, –: . for a  warrant to permit the FBI to initiate electronic surveillance and  physical  search of  Page for  f-t ·W  f.1>.-<i   1 90 days, consistent with FISA requirements. The Court approved three rene wals – in early

January 2017, early April 2017, and late June 2017 – which authorized the FBI to maintain surveillance on Page until late September 2017. Senior DOJ and FBI officials appointed by the Obama and Trump Administrations, including acting Attorney General Dana Boente and Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein, certified the applications with the Court.


FISA was not used to spy on Trump or his campaign. As the Trump campaign and Page have acknowledged, Page ended his formal affiliation with the campaign months before DOJ applied for a warrant. DOJ, moreover, submitted the initial application less than three weeks before the election, even though the FBJ’s investigation had been ongoing since the end of July 2016.


DOJ’s warrant request was based on compelling evidence and probable cause to believe Page was knowingly assisting clandestine Russian intelligence activities in the U.S.:


  • Page’s Connections to Russian Government and Intelligence Officials: The FBI had an independent basis for investigating Page’s motivations and actions during the campaign,

transition, and following the inauguration. As DOJ described in detail to the Court, Page had an extensive record as

1 prior to joining the Trump campaign. He resided in Moscow from 2004-

2007 and pursued business deals with Russia’s state-owned energy company Gazprom-









Page remained on the radar of Russian intelligence and the FBI. In 2013, prosecutors indicted three other Russian spies, two of whom targeted Page for recruitment. The FBI also interviewed Page multiple times about his Russian intelligence contacts, including in March 2016.10 The FBI’s concern about and knowledge of Page’s activities therefore long predate the FBl’s receipt of Steele’s information.


  • Page’s Suspicious Activity During the 2016 Campaign: The FISA applications also detail Page’s uspici •s activity after joining the Trump campaign in March

Page traveled to Moscow in July 2016, during which he gave a university commencement address – an honor usually reserved for well- known luminaries.


  • It is in this specific sub-section of the applications that DOJ refers to Steele’s reporting on Page and his alleged coordination with Russian Steele’s information about Page was consistent with the FBI’s assessment of Russian intelligence effo1ts to recruit him and his connections to Russian persons of interest.
o        In particular, Steele ‘ s sources reported that Page met separately while in Russia with Igor Sechin, a close associate of Vladimir Putin and executive chairman of Rosneft, Russia’s state-owned oil company, and Igor Divyekin, a senior Kremlin official. Sechin allegedly discussed the prospect of future U.S.-Russia energy cooperation and “an associated move to lift Ukraine-related western sanctions against Russia.” Divyekin allegedly disclosed to Page that the Kremlin possessed compromising information on Clinton (“kompromat”) and noted “t he possibility of its being released to Candidate

#1 ‘s campaign.” 11 [Note : ” Candidate #1″ refers to candidate Trump.] This closely tracks what other Russian contacts were informing another Trump foreign policy advisor, George Papadopoulos .


  • In subsequent FISA renewals, DOJ provided additional information obtained through multiple independent sources that corroborated Steele’s



















This infonnation contradicts Page’s November 2, 2017 testimony to the Committee, in which he initially denied any such meetings and then was forced to admit speaking with








Dvorkovich and meeting with Rosneft’s Sechin-tied investor relations chief, Andrey Baranov.


  • The Court-approved surveillance of Page allowed FBI to collect valuable The FISA renewals demonstrate that the FBJ collected important investigative information and leads by conducting Court-approved surveillance. For instance,




DOJ also documented evidence that Page






Page’s efforts t

sworn testimony to our Committee.


DOJ’s Transparency about Christopher Steele


Far from “omitting” material facts about Steele, as the Majority claims,17 DOJ repeatedly informed the Court about Steele’s background, credibility, and potential bias. DOJ explained in detail Steele’s prior relationship with and compens<\tion from the FBI; his credibility, reporting history, and source network; the fact of and reason for his termination as a source in late October 2016; and the likely political motivations of those who hired Steele.


  • DOJ was transparent with Court about Steele’s sourcing: The Committee Majority, which had earlier accused Obama Administration officials of improper “unmasking,” faults DOJ for not revealing the names of specific S. persons and entities in the FISA application and subsequent renewals. fn fact, DOJ appropriately upheld its longstanding practice of protecting U.S. citizen information by purposefully not ·•unmasking” U.S. person and entity names, unless they were themselves the subject ofa counterintelligence investigation. DOJ instead used generic identifiers that provided the Court with more than sufficient information to understand the political context of Steele’s research. In an extensive explanation to the Court, DOJ discloses that Steele


“was approached by an identified U.S. Person, 111 who indicated to Source #1{Steelej19 that a U.S.-based law .firm 20 had hired the ident(fied U.S. Person lo conduct research regarding Candidate #1 ‘s21 lies to Russia. (I’he identified U.S. Person and Source #1 have a long­ standing business relationship.) The identified U.S. person hired Source #I to conduct this research. The identified U.S. Person never advised Source #I as to the motivation behind the research into Candidate #1 ‘sties to Russia. The FBI speculates that the identified U.S. Person was likely looking for information that could be used to discredit Candidate 111’s campaign.” 12


Contrary to the Majority’s assertion that DOJ fails to mention that Steele’s research was commissioned by “political actors” to “obtain derogatory information on Donald Trump ‘s ties to Russia,” 23 DOJ in fact informed the Court accurately that Steele was hired by








politically-motivated U.S. persons and entities and that his research appeared intended for use “to discredit” Trump’s campaign.


  • DOJ explained the FBl’s reasonable basis for finding Steele credible: The applications correctly described Steele as

. The applications also reviewed Steele’s multi-year history of credible reporting on Russia and other matters , including information DOJ used in criminal proceedings. 24 Senior FBI and DOJ offic ials have repeatedly aflirmed to the

Committee the reliability and credibility of Steele’s reporting, an assessment also reflected in the FBI’s underlying source documents.25 The FBI has undertaken a rigorous process to vet allegations from Steele’ s reporting, including with regard to Page.26


  • The 1′,BI properly notified the FISC after it terminated Steele as a source for making unauthorized disclosures to the media. The Majority cites no evidence that the FBI, prior to filing its initial October 21, 2016 application, actually knew or should have known of any allegedly inappropriate media contact s by Steele. Nor do they cite evidence that Steele disclosed to Yahoo! details included in the FISA warrant, since the British Court filings to which they refer do not address what Steele may have said to Yahoo!.

DOJ informed the Court in its renewa ls that the FBI acted promptly to terminate Steele after learning from him (after DOJ filed the first warrant application) that he had discussed his work with a media outlet in late October. The January 2018 renewal further explained to the Court that Steele told the FBI that he made his unautho riz ed media disclosure because of his frustration at Director Corney’s public announcement shortly before the election that the FBI reopened its investigation into candidate Clinton’s email use.


  • DOJ never paid Steele for the “dossier”: The Majority asserts that the FBI had “separately authorized payment” to Steele for his research on Trump but neglects to mention that payment was cancelled and never As the FBI’s records and Committee testimony confirms, although the FBI initially considered co mpensation

‘ Steele ultimately never received payment from the FBI for

any “dossier”-relatcd information.27 DOJ accurately informed the Court that Steele had been an FBI confidential human source since., for which he was “compensated

by the FBI” – payment for previously -shared information of value unrelated to the FBl’ s Russia investig a tion. 28


Additional Omissions, Errors, and Distortions in the Maiority’s Memorandum


  • DOJ appropriately provided the Court with a comprehensive explanation of Russia’s election interference, including evidence that Russia courted another Trump campaign advisor,  Papadopoulos,  and  that  Russian  agents  previewed  their  hack  and dissemination of stolen emails. In claiming that there is ” no evidence of any cooperation or conspiracy between Page and Papadopoulos ,” 29 the Majority misstates the reason why DOJ specifically explained Russia’s courting of Papadopoulo Pa padopoulos’s interaction  with Russian agent s, coupled with real-time evidence  of  Russ ian  election  inter ference ,  provided the Court with a broader context in  which  to evaluate  Russia’  s clande  stine  activities and Page’s history and alleged contact with Russian officials. Moreover, since only Page-








.                                         no evidence of a separate conspiracy between him and

–                                         DOJ would have been negligent in omitting vital information about Papadopoulos and Russia’s concerted efforts.

  • In its Court filings, DOJ made proper use of news The Majority falsely claims that the FISA materials “relied heavily” on a September 23, 2016 Yahoo! News article by Michael Isikoff and that this article “does not corroborate the Steele Dossier because it is derived from information leaked by Steele himself.” 30 In fact, DOJ referenced Isikofrs

article, alongside another article the Majority fails to mention, not to provide separate corroboration for Steele’s reporting, but instead to inform the  Court of  Page’s  public denial of his suspected meetings in Mosco),Y, which Page also echoed in a September 25, 2016 letter to FBI Director Corney.


  • The Majority’s reference to Bruce Ohr is misleading. The Majority mischaracterizes Bruce Ohr’s role, overstates the significance of his interactions with Steele, and misleads about the timeframe of Ohr’s communication with the FBI. In late November 2016, Ohr informed the FBI of his prior professional  relationship with Steele and  information  that Steele shared with him (including Steele’s concern about Trump being compromised by Russia). He also described his wife’s contract work \\’.ith Fusion GPS, the firm that hired Steele separately. This occurred weeks after the election and more than a  month after the Court approved the initial FISA application. The Majority describes Bruce Ohr as a senior DOJ official who “worked closely with the Deputy Attorney General, Yates and later Rosenstein,” in order to imply that Ohr was somehow involved in the FISA process, but there is no indication this is the

Bruce Ohr is a well-respected career professional whose portfolio is drugs and organized crime, not counterintelligence. There is no evidence that he would have known about the Page F[SA applications and their contents. The Majority’s assertions, moreover, are irrelevant in determining the veraci_ty of Steele’s reporting. By the time Ohr debriefs with the FBI, it had already terminated Steele as a source and was independently corroborating Steele’s reporting about Page’s activities . Bruce Ohr took the initiative to inform the FBI of what he knew, and the Majority does him a grave disservice by suggesting he is part of some malign conspiracy.

  • Finally, Peter Strzok and Lisa Page’s text messages are irrelevant to the FISA application. The Majority gratuitously includes reference to Strzok and Page at the end of their memorandum, in an effort to imply that political bias infected the FBl’ s investigation and DOJ’s FISA In fact, neither Strzok nor Page s<;rved as affiants on the applications, which were the product of extensive and senior DOJ and FBI review.32 In demonizing both career professionals, the Majority accuses them of “orchestrating leaks to

the media” – a serious charge; omits inconvenient text messages, in which they critiqued a wide range of other officials and candidates from both parties; does not disclose that FBI Deputy Director McCabe testified to the Committee that he had no idea what Page and Strzok were referring to in their “insurance policy” texts; 33 and ignores Strzok’s acknowledged role in preparing a public declaration, by then Director Camey, about former

Secretary Clinton’s “extreme carelessness” in handling classified information-which greatly damaged Clinton’s public reputation in the days just prior to the presidential election.









1 Letter to HPSCI Chairman Devin Nunes, Assistant Attorney General Stephen Boyd, Department of Justice, January 24, 20I8.


2 Letter to HPSCI Chairman Devin Nunes, Assistant Attorney General Stephen Boyd, Department of Justice, January 24, 2018. DOJ also confirmed in writing to Minority Staff DOJ and FBl’s terms of review:


the Department has occommodatcd HPSC!’s oversight request by allowing repented in camera reviews of the material in an appropriate secure facility under the general stipulations that (I) the Chair (or his delegate) and the Ranking Member (or his delegate) and two staff e1ch, with appropriate security clearances, be allowed to review on beh11lf of the Committee, (2) that the review take place in a reading room set up at lhe Department, and (3) that the documents not leave the physical control of the Department, and (5) that the review opportunitiesbe bipartisan in nature. Though we originally requested that no notes be taken, in acknowledgment of a request by the Committee and recognizing that the volume of documents had increased with time, the Department eventually allowed notes to be taken to facilitate HPSCl’s review. Also, initial reviews of the material include [sic] short briefings by Department officials to put the material in con text and to provide some additional information.


Email from Stephen Boyd to HPSCI Minority Staff, January 18, 2018 (emphasis supplied).


3 Letter to HPSCI Chairman Devin Nunes, Assistant Attorney General Stephen Boyd, Department of Justice, January 24. 201.8.

s Papadopoulos’s October 5, 2017 guilty plea adds further texture to this initial tip, by clarifying that a Russian agent told Papadopoulos that “They [the Russionsj have dirt on her”; “the Russians had emails of Clinton”; “they have thousands of emails.” U.S. v. George Papadopoulos (I: I7-cr-182, District of Columbia), p. 7.

7 Under the Special Counsel’s direction, Flynn and Papadopoulos have both pleaded guilty to lying to federal investigators and are cooperating with the Special Counsel’s investigation, while Manafon and his long-time aide , former Trump deputy campaign manager Rick Gates, have been indicted on multiple counts and are awaiting trial. See U.S. v. Michael T. Flynn ( I :17-cr-232, District of Columbia); U.S. v. Paul J. Manafort , Jr., and /?ichard W. Gates Ill (I: l 7-cr-20 I, District of Columbia); U.S. v. George Papadopoulos (I: I7-cr-182, District of Columbia).


11 Department of Justice, Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court Applica tion , October 21, 2016, p.18 , Repented in subs equent n:newal applications


12 Department of Justice, Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court Application, June 29, 2017, pp. 20-21.











14                                                                                                                                           the FBI and broader Intelligence Community’s high

confidence assessment t”l’h-at-t”l’h-e”‘l!R!”‘u-s””‘si_a_n_g_o_ve_m_m_e_nt_w_asengaged in a covert interference campaign to influence the

2016 election, including that Russian intelligenceactors “co mpromised the ONC” and WikiLeaks subsequently leaked in July 2016 “a trove” of ONC emails. Department of Justice, Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court Application, October 21, 2016, pp. 6-7. Repeated and updated with new information in subsequent renewal applications. Department of Justice, Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court Application, June 29, 2017, pp. 20-21.


  1. I) Department of Justice, Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court Application, June 29, 2017, pp. 36, 46,


16 Department of Justice , Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court Application, June 29, 2017, p. 56.

17 HPSCJ Majority Memorandum, Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act Abuses at the Department of Justice and

/he Federal Bureau of Investigation, January 18, 2018, pp. 2-3 (enumerating “omissions” of fact, regarding Steele and his activities, from the Page FISA applications).


18 Glenn Simpson.


19 Christopher Steele, 20 Perkins Coie LLP. 21 Donald Trump.

22 Department of Justice, Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court Application, October 21, 2016, pp. 15-16, n. 8. Repeated in subsequent renewal applications.


23 HPSCI Majority Memorandum, Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act Abuses at the Departmentof Justice and the Federal Bureau of Investigation, January 18, 20I8, p. 2.


24 Department of Justice, Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court Application, October 21. 2016, p. 15, footnote 8. Repeated in subsequent renewal applications.


25 Interview of Andrew McCabe (FBI Deputy Director), House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence, December 19, 2017, p. 46, 100; Interview of Sally Yates (former Deputy Attorney General), House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence, November 3, 20 17, p. 16; Interview with John Carlin (former Assistant Attorney General for National Security), House Permanent Select Committee on Intellige nce, July, 2017, p. 35.

26 Jntervicw of Andrew McCabe (FBI Deputy Director), House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence, December 19, 2017, p. 100-10 I , 115.


n Interview of FBI Agent, House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence, December 20, 2017, p. 112.


18 Department of Justice, Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court Application, October 21, 2016, pp. 15-16, n. 8. Repeated in s ubsequent renewal applications.


29 HPSCI Majority Memorandum, Foreign  Intelligence S11rveif/ance  Act Abuses at the Department ofJuslice and the Federal H11reau of Inv estigation.January 18, 2018, p. 4 (“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.”)


10 HPSCI Majority Memorandum, Foreign Intelli ge nc e Surveillance Act Abuses at the Depal’lment of Justice and the Federal Bureau of Investigation, January 18, 2018, p. 2. Neither lsikoff nor Yahoo! are specifically identified in the FISA Materials, in keeping with the FBl’s general practice of not identifying U.S. persons.

31 Department of Justice, Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court Application, October 21, 2016, p. 25; Department of Justice, Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court Application, January 12. 2017, p. 3 I; Carter Page, Letter to FBI Director James Corney, September 25, 2016.                                     9







n Interview of Andrew McCabe (FBI Deputy Director), House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence, Decembi:r 19, 2017, p. 157.













































Presidential Order and House Committee Memo



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 classified 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 X 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 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, e.g., Dep’t of Navy v. Egan, 484 U.S. 518, 527 (1988). In order to facilitate appropriate congressional oversight, the Executive Branch may entrust classified 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 classified information, consistent with the laws of the United States.

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 specific materials in the public interest. However, public release of classified information by unilateral action of the Legislative Branch is extremely rare and raises significant separation of powers concerns. Accordingly, the Committee’s request to release the Memorandum is interpreted as a request for declassification pursuant to the President’s authority.

The President understands that the protection of our national security represents his highest obligation. Accordingly, after bringing in Overland Park accident lawyer he has directed lawyers and national security staff to assess the declassification request, consistent with established standards governing the handling of classified information, including those under Section 3.1(d) of Executive Order 13526. Those standards permit declassification when the public interest in disclosure outweighs any need to protect the information. The White House review process also included input from the Office 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 Appropriate.

Based on this assessment and in light of the significant public interest in the memorandum, the President has authorized the declassification of the Memorandum. To be clear, the Memorandum reflects 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 declassification 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


Declassified 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 (FISA) during the 2016 presidential election cycle. Our findings, 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 FISA process.

Investigation Update

On October 21, 2016, DOJ and FBI sought and received a FISA probable cause order (not under Title VII) authorizing electronic surveillance on Carter Page from the FISC. Page is a U.S. citizen who served as a volunteer advisor to the Trump presidential campaign. Consistent with requirements under FISA, the application had to be first certified 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-confirmed Assistant Attorney General for the National Security Division.

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. §1805(d)(1)), a FISA order on an American citizen must be renewed by the FISC 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. Then-DAG Sally Yates, then-Acting DAG Dana Boente, and DAG Rod Rosenstein each signed one or more FISA applications on behalf of DOJ.

Due to the sensitive nature of foreign intelligence activity, FISA submissions (including renewals) before the FISC are classified. As such, the public’s confidence 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 FISC’s 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 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 findings indicate that, as described below, material and relevant information was omitted.

1) 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 firm Perkins Coie and research firm Fusion GPS, to obtain derogatory information on Donald Trump’s ties to Russia.

  1. 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 DOJ and FBI officials.
  2. b) The initial FISA application notes Steele was working for a named U.S. person, but does not name Fusion GPS and principal Glenn Simpson, who was paid by a U.S. law firm (Perkins Coie) representing the DNC (even though it was known by DOJ 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—the DNC and Clinton campaign, or that the FBI had separately authorized payment to Steele for the same information.

2) 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 filings that he met with Yahoo News—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 D.C. in 2016 with Steele and Fusion GPS where this matter was discussed.

  1. a) Steele was suspended and then terminated as an FBI source for what the FBI defines 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 in September—before the Page application was submitted to the FISC in October—but Steele improperly concealed from and lied to the FBI about those contacts.
  2. b) Steele’s numerous encounters with the media violated the cardinal rule of source handling—maintaining confidentiality—and demonstrated that Steele had become a less than reliable source for the FBI.

3) Before and after Steele was terminated as a source, he maintained contact with DOJ via then-Associate Deputy Attorney General Bruce Ohr, a senior DOJ official who worked closely with Deputy Attorneys General Yates and later Rosenstein. Shortly after the election, the FBI began interviewing Ohr, documenting his communications with Steele. For example, in September 2016, Steele admitted to Ohr 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’s bias was recorded by Ohr at the time and subsequently in official FBI files—but not reflected in any of the Page FISA applications.

  1. 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.

4) According to the head of the FBI’s 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 testimony—“salacious and unverified.” While the FISA application relied on Steele’s past record of credible reporting on other unrelated matters, it ignored or concealed his anti-Trump financial and ideological motivations. Furthermore, Deputy Director McCabe testified before the Committee in December 2017 that no surveillance warrant would have been sought from the FISC without the Steele dossier information.

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 reflect 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.




A Personal view of the Republican Tax Plan

My wife came home from work yesterday and asked, “Ok Mr Attorney, how is this new tax plan going to affect us, you and me? Real money?”

My answer was “Well, our biggest tax problem last year was getting hit with the Alternative Minimum Tax (AMT), hard, and the new tax plan moves the range for AMT so high we don’t need to worry about it. We still have one child on our return, so we will get bit more child credit. The changes the Senate made to the awful House version moved the state/local tax exemption high enough to not impact our credit for Santa Barbara property taxes on our house, since we have paid it down below the personal home cap of $750,000. We have medical insurance from your job, so we won’t immediately feel the pain of the impacts of the tax bill that many in the country will feel on their medical insurance bill. All in all, we are a bit better under the new tax bill.”

My wife smiled and said “Good, I was worried about everything I heard.”

Then I continued, “HOWEVER, my greatest concern looking forward is that I still feel that a government debt crisis, both in the US and worldwide, will cause a massive financial failure in 2020 to 2022 and beyond. This tax bill worsens the potential that the US Deficit and government debt system will add to the world debt problem. The tax plan pulls the revenues out of the system without paying any of the bills. I have no reason to believe the lofty guesses they are making about the economic impact of the Tax Plan; they are talking smoke and mirrors. AND, the proposed Defense spending shows the Republicans cannot see the way to significant cuts in spending. The proposed defense and debt service budgets outweigh any possible cuts in other government departments that Republicans could make. And, what is worse, the Republicans have set themselves up for a fall in 2018 elections since most people are not in our tax bracket and will hurt from this tax bill, so you could have a Democratic Congress facing a Trump White House in the years I worry about preparing to stop the debt crisis (2019-2020). No chance a Democratic Congress and a Trump presidency will effectively deal with debt and spending. So, the long range prognostication of the Republican Tax Plan is chaos. … you asked.”

A Great Depression Historian Just Issued A Chilling Warning About The Republican Tax Bill

A Great Depression Historian Just Issued A Chilling Warning About The Republican Tax Bill

By Robert Haffey

Published on November 30, 2017 in


As one by one the holdout Republican Senators shed their spines and fall in line behind Trump ahead of the looming GOP tax bill vote, America’s prospects for future prosperity dim. The legislation is a colossal handout to the hyperwealthy built upon the backs of the middle class. It will skyrocket the deficit and make the lives of average Americans tougher. It’s classic Republican reverse Robin Hood economics.

In a newly published Washington Post article, historian Robert S. McElvaine says that the Republican bill is ripped straight from 1929, echoing what the GOP passed right before the Great Depression.

The historic economic crash of the 1930’s was precipitated by a decade of disastrous Republican policies which spurned the poor and middle class in favor of catering to the rich. The massive tax cuts to the 1% that Republicans of the time rammed through Congress led to an accelerated concentration of wealth in the hands of the few, draining the rest of the country.

Despite the fact that the myth of trickledown economics has been debunked over and over again in history, Republicans still cling to the ideology. The pattern is as rote as it is exhausting. A Republican president replaces a Democrat in the Oval Office and claims credit for the uptick in economic growth, refusing to recognize that the boom is largely a result of his predecessor’s policies.

The Republicans then gives handouts to the 1% and pushes deregulation and — since economic forces move slowly and the implications of policies can take years to materialize — he leaves office before the horrible effects of the GOP legislation can be seen. The Democrat then inherits a mess and cleans it up, just in time for the next Republican to scuttle all the progress. Rinse and repeat.

McElvaine writes about this GOP stubbornness:

 “In 1932, in the depths of the Great Depression, Franklin D. Roosevelt called for ‘bold, persistent experimentation’ and said: ‘It is common sense to take a method and try it; if it fails, admit it frankly and try another. But above all, try something.’ The contrasting position of Republicans then and now is: Take the method and try it. If it fails, deny its failure and try it again. And again. And again.”

Indeed, the Republican Party is so deeply entrenched in its ahistorical and unfactual economic worldview that it’s almost as if its members have taken to living in a parallel universe, addressing fabricated facts and playing make-believe.

McElvaine points out that Republicans attacked President Bill Clinton’s proposed tax hike on the wealthiest Americans as a harbinger of complete economic collapse. Instead, it led to an unprecedented economic boom and a budget surplus. George W. Bush took over after him and immediately tanked the economy by pursuing opposite policies. And yet somehow, the Republicans still think their backward ideas will work this time around.

McElvaine gave a helpful series of bullet points on the negative effects of Trump’s proposed tax bill:

  • Repealing the estate tax would allow generations of wealthy Americans to accrete wealth even easier than they do now, leading to a permanent aristocratic class.
  • Eliminating state and local deductions will lead to most Americans effectively paying taxes twice, further crushing the middle class.
  • Removing large medical expense deductions will make it even harder for many people to afford healthcare, bankrupting or even killing in some cases.
  • Removing deductions for teachers and student debt, encumbering our education system more than it already is, and foisting a monumental burden on future generations seeking to better themselves.
  • Ending the Affordable Care Act individual mandate, throwing millions of Americans off their healthcare.
  • 80% of Americans will see their taxes rise. Millionaires and billionaires will see theirs drop.

Any one of these provisions by itself would be an unmitigated disaster, swirled together in the noxious concoction the Republicans are proposing it will lead to a complete implosion of the middle class and an apocalyptic economic downturn.

Call your Senators and tell your loved ones to do the same. It’s not too late to avert the cliff we are hurtling towards, but we must act now. Failure to act will hurt the American people for decades to come.


A Comment on Trump’s Charlottesville Statements

In the course of discussions about the events of Charlottesville last week, one of my oldest friends, Bruce Brill, posted a reply to something I said about President Trump’s comment. I wanted to blog here both Bruce’s comment and my response.

In response to my posting about the corporate leaders response to Trump’s Charlottesville comment, Bruce Brill wrote two things:

I’m a Jew. I found nothing Trump said offensive in any way… the opposite I saw in what he said words of healing, unlike the perennial Trump-bashers’ divisive comments.”

and then;

You know I respect you and your opinions. On the two items that you brought up (1.”that he gave both sides moral equivalency”, and 2. that you saw nothing healing in what he said),…. We can discuss these two items by listening to and analyzing WHAT TRUMP SAID and not what the fake media said he said.”

My response to Bruce Brill’s post is as follows:

Bruce, we have great mutual respect and friendship that dates back 45 years. You prefaced your remark as coming from a Jew. You know my own background as a student of Jewish history and culture and I think you have a copy of my most recent book which tracks a young woman’s search for understanding and meaning of her own Jewish heritage. But, I am not a Jew, and any attempt by me to counter your opinion of Trump from the vantage point of a Jew would be cultural appropriation in its truest sense. I can report that the two most important organizations of American rabbinical leaders have gone public in their disagreement with Trump’s recent comments about Charlottesvile.

Also, I can comment, logically, and from the standpoint of an American, that I found Trump’s statement that there were “fine people” on “both sides” to be contemptible. “Fine people” would not have marched in an after hours foray through a college campus carrying flaming torches while slogans made famous by 1930 Nazis were shouted. “Fine people” would have left before marching alongside armed quasi-military garbed brown shirted men who also wore Nazi-themed symbols. “Fine people” would have had no part in a rally that was organized and peopled by the vilest types of hate groups.

On the other hand, I must admit Trump got a bad rap for his comments that both sides were at fault. Both sides did have organized groups of people who came with shields, clubs and chemical sprays meant to allow physical confrontation with opposing groups. I saw shields brandished and used to attack others that had Neo-Nazi and White Power emblems on them, and I also saw shields likewise used that had Code Pink and Antifa identifying marks on them. There are social media postings by both the Neo-Nazi and Antifa groups urging their followers toward involvement in Charlottesville and warning of intended open hostilities. The right to peaceful assembly and protest in America does not include the right to physically assault the opposing side. A person’s or group’s right to protest stops when the purpose or result of the protest is injury and physical harm to others, or when other citizens, including police, are put in danger by a protest activity. However, Trump’s attempt at communicating what I just said fell woefully short when he tried to say there were bad actors on both sides. He forgot to talk about how the initial protest by the Neo-Nazi groups and their intended threat of open confrontation over the Lee statue was wrong at the outset and that Charlottesville citizens were correct in their right to disagree with that hateful action. That the Antifa attack groups also opposed the neo-Nazi protest is irrelevant to whether the original Neo-Nazi action was a worthy cause.

Overall, Trump handled the entire response to Charlottesville very badly. Trump needs to get professional staffers and speech writers to craft a wise message in cases like this and a message worthy of the office of the President. And, Trump needs to stay on message and not let his spur of the moment comments blacken the image of his office. A little thought and statesmanship needs to be inserted in Trump’s public comments and he needs to lose the Twitter account, or at least hire a thoughtful staff who does it for him after the Tweet has been properly staffed through WH political and national security channels. A statement by the leader of the free world cannot be ad lib banter by a person inexperienced in world affairs, politics and security and law enforcement issues. Trump may be the elected leader, but he needs to learn to think for a moment before opening his mouth or Tweeting and trust the high-priced and experienced staff the US government provides for him and who are able to fully think out the ramifications of a Presidential comment in a very complicated world.

By the way, the book about the Jewish woman seeking her Jewish heritage can be found here, 

Statement on North Korea by Secretary of Defense Jim Mattis


08/09/2017 11:53 AM CDT
Aug. 9, 2017
Statement by Secretary of Defense Jim Mattis
The United States and our allies have the demonstrated capabilities and unquestionable commitment to defend ourselves from an attack. Kim Jong Un should take heed of the United Nations Security Council’s unified voice, and statements from governments the world over, who agree the DPRK poses a threat to global security and stability.  The DPRK must choose to stop isolating itself and stand down its pursuit of nuclear weapons.  The DPRK should cease any consideration of actions that would lead to the end of its regime and the destruction of its people.

President Trump was informed of the growing threat last December and on taking office his first orders to me emphasized the readiness of our ballistic missile defense and nuclear deterrent forces. While our State Department is making every effort to resolve this global threat through diplomatic means, it must be noted that the combined allied militaries now possess the most precise, rehearsed and robust defensive and offensive capabilities on Earth.  The DPRK regime’s actions will continue to be grossly overmatched by ours and would lose any arms race or conflict it initiates.

Fearing Iranian Expansion Dr. Kissinger Warns Against Destroying ISIS


By David Israel

Dr. Henry Kissinger

The Iraq War that began in 2003 with the invasion of Iraq by a United States-led coalition that toppled the government of Saddam Hussein cost the lives of an estimated 600,000 Iraqis, and just under 5,000 American personnel; with a total financial cost to the US economy estimated at between $3 trillion and $6 trillion. The most profound results of the war were the elimination of the one serious Sunni bulwark against the Shiite Iranian expansion effort in the Middle East, resulting in the rise of a largely pro-Iranian, Shiite government in Iraq. The Sunni remnants of Saddam Hussein’s government and military eventually emerged as the ISIS “caliphate,” spreading fear and dread in Iraq and Syria, with the occasional terrorist eruption in Europe.

In an article published a week ago in CAPX, Dr. Henry Kissinger points out that by destroying ISIS, an endeavor that appears to unite East and West these days, the US would contribute to the further expansion of Iran: “If the ISIS territory is occupied by Iran’s Revolutionary Guards or Shia forces trained and directed by it, the result could be a territorial belt reaching from Tehran to Beirut, which could mark the emergence of an Iranian radical empire,” he writes.

Kissinger notes that the “system of order that emerged in the Middle East at the end of the First World War,” largely expressed in the 1916 Sykes–Picot Agreement between the United Kingdom and France, “is now in a shambles,” as “four states in the region have ceased to function as sovereign: Syria, Iraq, Libya, and Yemen have become battlegrounds for factions seeking to impose their rule.”

Not surprisingly, in every one of these battleground you’ll discover the long arm of Tehran, the only true beneficiary of US foreign policy next to Israel. And so, barring a full-fledged military effort against Iran, which would eliminate its nuclear potential and bring down its repressive clerical regime, the West should avoid doing to ISIS what it did to Saddam Hussein, who had today’s ISIS commanders on his payroll.

“In these circumstances, the traditional adage that the enemy of your enemy can be regarded as your friend no longer applies,” writes Kissinger. “In the contemporary Middle East, the enemy of your enemy may also be your enemy.”

Kissinger points out the complex role of the newly-Islamist and Sunni Turkey in the Middle Eastern calculus, seeing as Turkey is more troubled by the bolstering of the separatist Kurdish state in northern Iraq—natural enemies of ISIS but also potential allies of the large Kurdish minority in Turkey—than it is by the threats posed by ISIS. In this context, the relatively warm relationship between the Trump administration and Ankara could be worrisome.

Finally, the question that has troubled the West since the Napoleonic Wars: what to do about Russia? “The new role of Russia will affect the kind of order that will emerge [in the Middle East],” writes Kissinger. “Is its goal to assist in the defeat of ISIS and the prevention of comparable entities? Or is it driven by nostalgia for historic quests for strategic domination?”

He could have written “entrenched paranoia” instead of “nostalgia,” but then he wouldn’t be invited again to those Beluga and vodka balls at the Kremlin. The fact is, though, that international politics abhors a vacuum, and should the West—mainly because oil is no longer the magical and powerful commodity it used to be—finally walk away from the Middle east mess, rather than accept that it is a troubled garden that requires permanent weeding, “great powers like China and India, which cannot afford chaos along their borders or turmoil within them, will gradually step into the West’s place together with Russia. The pattern of world politics of recent centuries will be overthrown.”

Clearly, at 94 Dr. Kissinger’s understanding of world politics (he covers other areas of the globe in his piece) exceeds the wisdom of our three most recent presidents with many IQ points to spare.