Reps. Zeldin, Meadows, Jordan, Gaetz and Colleagues Call on President Trump to Declassify and Release Carter Page FISA Applications, All Bruce Ohr 302s and Other Relevant Documents
WASHINGTON - Today, Congressman Lee Zeldin (R, NY-1) was joined by Representatives Mark Meadows (NC-11), Jim Jordan (OH-4), Matt Gaetz (FL-1), Andy Biggs (AZ-5), Keith Rothfus (PA-12), Jody Hice (GA-10), Louie Gohmert (TX-1), Brian Babin (TX-36), Claudia Tenney (NY-22), Scott DesJarlais (TN-4), and Scott Perry (PA-4) in calling on President Donald Trump to declassify and release the Carter Page FISA applications (including specifically pages 10-12 and 17-34 and relevant footnotes), all of the Bruce Ohr 302s and other relevant documents, including exculpatory evidence regarding Carter Page and others, that were presented to the Gang of Eight, but not presented to the FISA Court. The video from today’s press conference can be viewed here.
In May 2018, Reps. Zeldin, Meadows, Jordan, Desantis, Gaetz and other Members of Congress announced the introduction of a 12-page House Resolution detailing misconduct at the highest levels of the Department of Justice (DOJ) and Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) with regards to FISA Abuse, how and why the Hillary Clinton email probe ended, and how and why the Donald Trump-Russia probe began. The Resolution, now sponsored by 33 Members of Congress, also calls for the appointment of a second special counsel to investigate the misconduct that took place.
Rep. Zeldin’s remarks as prepared for delivery are as follows:
“Before I begin, I would like to say this: The ranks of our Justice Department and FBI are filled with amazing, patriotic men and women who passionately love their jobs and our country. They take their oath seriously and perform their jobs exceptionally. They enforce our rule of law and make us proud each and every day in the performance of their duties. It is deeply unfortunate that individuals at the highest levels of these legendary, historic agencies weaponized their powers and acted highly improperly. Their misconduct is a reflection on them, not on everyone else performing their responsibilities to the very best of their abilities and making everyone in our nation so proud of them each and every day.
In May of this year, 19 Members of Congress introduced a 12-page House resolution detailing misconduct at the highest levels of the DOJ and FBI with regards to FISA abuse, how and why the Hillary Clinton email probe ended and how and why the Donald Trump-Russia probe began.
This resolution also called for the appointment of a Second Special Counsel to investigate this gross misconduct, with the understanding that the Justice Department cannot be expected to investigate itself.
33 Members of the House now sponsor this Resolution calling for the appointment of a Second Special Counsel because we, and our constituents, want transparency and accountability, and yet since the introduction of this resolution, further evidence has come to light of misconduct at the highest levels of the DOJ and FBI. The same principles that motivated us to introduce our resolution then, are driving us with even more determination and resolve today.
I am joined here today by several of my colleagues, including Congressmen Meadows, Jordan, Gaetz and others, to call on the President of the United States, Donald Trump, to declassify and release important information for the American public.
As I stated in my Tweet yesterday, “powers were abused, the FISA Court was misled, and we have zero tolerance for any of it.”
There are three parts to our request:
One: We are calling for the declassification and release of the Carter Page FISA Applications. While we are strongly in favor of releasing the entirety of the FISA applications, except for the necessary redaction of any sources and methods that must truly remain classified, we most specifically want to ensure that the President declassifies and releases 20 pages in particular of the last FISA renewal. This includes pages 10 to 12 and 17 to 34, along with the associated footnotes. We are confident that the FISA applications will prove that the highest levels of the DOJ and FBI failed to provide the FISA court with critically important information when they requested a warrant to spy on Carter Page and others.
Part Two of our request is that we are calling on the President to declassify and release all 12 of the Bruce Ohr 302s. We are confident that these 302s contain critically important information that should have been provided to the FISA court, but wasn’t.
Part Three: We are also calling for the declassification and release of the documents provided to the Gang of 8 that contain exculpatory evidence regarding Carter Page and others. We are confident that these documents also contain critically important information that should have been provided to the FISA court, but wasn’t.
We of course understand the importance of redacting information that compromises sources and methods, but that is no excuse to not release the rest of the information solely because it embarrases or exposes people who are responsible for wrongdoing.
In October 2016, the FBI and DOJ used politically biased, unverified sources to obtain a warrant from the United States Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court to surveil a U.S. citizen, Carter Page. The warrant, along with three renewals, also would have enabled investigators to access Page’s communications with other Americans, including other Trump campaign associates.
The warrants grant U.S. intelligence and law enforcement agencies sweeping power to collect bulk information and conduct ‘‘about collection’’, which results in surveillance of a broad array of private communications from the past, present, and future, including those of U.S. citizens not specifically targeted in the FISA authorized warrant.
To obtain these warrants, FBI and DOJ officials submitted an unverified dossier prepared by Christopher Steele to the FISA Court. The officials failed to disclose that Christopher Steele was hired by the firm Fusion GPS, which was hired by the Democratic National Committee and Hillary Clinton campaign to prepare this dossier and that the source was unreliable and was soon thereafter going to be terminated as a source.
The FISA Court was not informed that Christopher Steele was actively opposed to the election of Donald Trump, that he was the unnamed source cited in the media reports that the FBI used to corroborate his dossier, and that Fusion GPS had been hired to perform previous anti-Trump research efforts in 2015.
The Woods Procedures, which are the FBI’s mandatory vetting process required for all FISA warrant applications instituted to ensure that all the facts contained in an application are accurate and verified to clearly support
probable cause for a warrant, were not followed.
Former Director Comey admitted in sworn testimony to the Senate Judiciary Committee on June 8, 2017, that material contained in the Steele dossier was known to be both ‘‘salacious’’ and ‘‘unverified’’.
Since FISA warrant applications are rarely turned down, are almost never subject to appeal, and are presented in closed court with no public record where the Government is not challenged by any defense, it is imperative
that the Government take extra care to validate the information being utilized to build their case before they take the extraordinary step of waiving rights of a U.S. citizen without his or her knowledge or the opportunity
to present a defense.
At the FISA Court, the Government has a responsibility not only to provide its best evidence in support of its case, but also to provide the best evidence against its application, and in this case the DOJ failed to do so. There apparently was very important exculpatory evidence that was provided to the Gang of Eight was not even presented to the FISA Court.
These deeply flawed and questionable FISA warrant applications utilizing illicit sources and politically biased intelligence were approved by DOJ and FBI officials at the highest levels before being submitted to the FISA Court.
It was further hidden from the FISA court that Nellie Ohr, the wife of the fourth-highest ranking DOJ official, Bruce Ohr, worked for Fusion GPS. The Court also wasn’t notified that even after Steele was terminated as a source by the FBI for leaking information to the press, the FBI continued to effectively use him as a source via Steele’s contacts with Bruce Ohr.
Despite the troubling fact that he was terminated as a source by the FBI for leaking information to the press and other reasons, the FBI continued to effectively use Steele as a source by maintaining regular contact with Ohr.
Christopher Steele directly transmitted the dossier and other information through Bruce Ohr to the FBI, which then submitted allegations from the dossier to the FISA court. The details of the interviews between the FBI and Ohr are laid out in a series of 302s written by the FBI, but the DOJ continues to improperly keep those 302s classified.
In February 2018, the President declassified information within a memorandum by the majority of the House Intelligence Committee, which revealed that,
“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 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 feeling against then-candidate Trump when Steele said he ‘was desperate that Donald Trump not get elected and was passionate about him not being President.’”
Later that month, in response to a request by Senators Grassley and Graham, the DOJ declassified a letter that referred to the Bruce Ohr 302 interview summaries stating that:
“Numerous FD-302s demonstrating that DOJ official Bruce Ohr continued to pass along allegations from Mr. Steele to the FBI after the FBI suspended its formal relationship with Mr. Steele for unauthorized contact with the media, and demonstrating that Mr. Ohr otherwise funneled allegations form Fusion GPS and Mr. Steele to the FBI.”
In May of 2018, upon request, the DOJ produced 63 pages of unclassified emails and notes documenting Mr. Ohr’s interactions with Mr. Steele on these issues.
The 302s contain Mr. Ohr’s recounting of his interactions with Mr. Steele, which are unclassified, the dates of Mr. Ohr’s interviews with the FBI to relay information, which have already been declassified, and Mr. Ohr’s emails and notes documenting their interactions, which are not classified, yet the 302s themselves remain classified. As Senator Grassley has stated, “nothing about these documents ought to be marked classified.” As I stated earlier, we are confident that important information in these 302s that should have been provided to the FISA court, was not actually provided to the judges as it should have been. The same applies to important information contained in the documents provided to the Gang of 8.
We believe in equal scales of justice. That no one is above the law. That includes anyone regardless of last name and that even includes people at the highest levels of the DOJ and FBI especially when misconduct is committed in the performance of their duties while trying to take down elected officials and candidates.
Powers were abused, the FISA Court was misled, and we have zero tolerance for any of it.
As Representatives, it is our Constitutional duty to ensure that our constituents - the American people- know the truth, that they possess the information they have every right to possess and that those officials who abused their powers and misled the FISA court to obtain a warrant to spy on Americans are held accountable.
The numerous severe irregularities involved in this investigation—and the very notion of an administration employing our nation’s counter-intelligence capabilities to investigate its political opponents during a political campaign—have deeply shaken Americans’ confidence in the leadership of U.S. intelligence and law enforcement agencies. These agencies exist to protect Americans from foreign threats, not to try to sway the outcome of our elections or to destabilize a duly elected administration.
The continued attempts to hide from the public a full accounting of these abuses is intolerable. The American people have a right to know exactly what happened in this investigation so we can implement reforms to ensure that such abuses are never repeated. We will not allow those responsible for these misdeeds to improperly cite national security concerns to keep the truth from coming to light. The only satisfactory outcome now is full transparency for the American people and full accountability for those who maliciously subjected American citizens to surveillance abuses.
Mr. President, there are Members of Congress and millions of Americans all across our great nation who are asking you for their sake and for our country’s future for you to declassify and release this important information.”