Congress releases redacted, declassified Democratic memo

Congress has released a redacted, declassified memo that aims to counter Republican allegations that the FBI abused government surveillance powers in its investigation into Russian election interference.

The release comes after weeks of back and forth over how much of the Democratic document would be redacted. The White House objected to its release Feb. 9, citing national security concerns. Democrats have since negotiated with the FBI on what should be blacked out.

The Democratic memo details alleged efforts by Russian operatives to recruit a former Donald Trump campaign aide as a spy.

Carter Page was targeted for recruitment in 2013 by a pair of Russians indicted by the U.S. government. The FBI asked Page about his contacts in a March 2016 interview, according to the memo.

The memo released Saturday cites evidence that was included in applications to conduct surveillance on Page.

The memo also details Russian attempts to cultivate Page as a spy. It cites a federal indictment of two Russian spies who allegedly targeted Page for recruitment and notes that the FBI interviewed him based on those suspicions that March 2016.

In response to the Democratic memo, Page calls it “misinformation” and “the latest smear campaign” by Democratic Party loyalists.

The declassified Democratic memo seeks to dispute a main contention from a declassified Republican memo released earlier this month.

The Republican document accused the FBI and Justice Department of using information compiled by former British spy Christopher Steele to obtain a secret warrant to monitor Trump’s associate without revealing that Steele’s materials were funded by Democrat Hillary Clinton’s campaign and the Democratic National Committee.

Republicans had said that federal authorities had not disclosed enough to the court about the political nature of the work.

But the Democratic memo contends that the Justice Department disclosed “the assessed political motivation of those who hired him.”

President Trump had less concern about the earlier classified memo written by Republicans, which he declassified Feb. 2 over strong objections from the FBI.

Trump claims the Republican memo “vindicates” him in the ongoing Russia investigation led by special counsel Robert Mueller, though other Republicans have disagreed.

On Twitter, the president dismissed the Democratic memo as “a total political and legal BUST.”

White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders said the Democratic memo is “politically driven.” She said nothing in the memo counters the fact, as the president has been insisting, that neither he nor his campaign ever colluded with a foreign power during the 2016 election.

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CBC | World News