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THE WHITE HOUSE
WASHINGTON
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) ofRule X ofthe House of
Representatives, the Committee has forwarded this Memorandum to the President based on its
determination that the release ofthe 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 ofNavy 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 ofthe
United States.
The Committee has now determined that the release ofthe Memorandum would be appropriate.
The Executive Branch, across Administrations ofboth parties, has worked to accommodate
congressional requests to declassify specific materials in the public interest.1 However, public
release of classified information by unilateral action ofthe Legislative Branch is extremely rare
and raises significant separation ofpowers 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 ofour national security represents his highest
obligation. Accordingly, he has directed lawyers and national security staffto assess the
1 See, e.g., S. Rept. 114-8 at 12 (Administration ofBarack Obama) ("On April3, 2014 ... the Committee agreed to
send the revised Findings and Conclusions, and the updated Executive Summary ofthe Committee Study, to the
President for declassification and public release."); H. Rept. 107-792 (Administration ofGeorge W. Bush) (similar);
E.O. 12812 (Administration ofGeorge H.W. Bush) (noting Senate resolution requesting that President provide for
declassification ofcertain information via Executive Order).
declassification request, consistent with established standards governing the handling of
classified information, including those under Section 3.l(d) ofExecutive 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 ofNational Intelligence and the Department ofJustice. Consistent with this review
and these standards, the President has determined that declassification ofthe Memorandum is
appropriate.
Based on this assessment and in light ofthe significant public interest in the memorandum, the
President has authorized the declassification ofthe Memorandum. To be clear, the
Memorandum reflects the judgments ofits congressional authors. The President understands
that oversight concerning matters related to the Memorandum may be continuing. Though the
circumstances leading te 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.
cc: The Honorable Paul Ryan
Speaker ofthe House ofRepresentatives
The Honorable Adam Schiff
Sincerely,
~~
Donald F. McGahn II
Counsel to the President
Ranking Member, House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence
UNCLASSIFIED' ON@!RfYT:1 fOFOFt!4
To:
From:
Subject:
Purpose
January 18, 2018
HPSCI Majority Members
HPSCI Majority Staff
Declassified by order ofthe President
February 2, 2018
Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act Abuses at the Department ofJustice and the
Federal Bureau ofInvestigation
This memorandum provides Members an update on significant facts relating to the
Committee's ongoing investigation into the Department ofJustice (DOJ) and Federal Bureau of
Investigation (FBI) and their use ofthe Foreign .Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) during the
2016 presidential election cycle. Our findings, which are detailed belo_w, 1) raise conce11;1s with
the legitimacy and legality of certain DOJ and FBI interactions with the Foreign Intelligence
Surveillance Court (FISC), and 2) represent a troubling breakdown oflegal 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 ofthe FBI. It then required the approval ofthe Attorney General, Deputy Attorney
General (DAG), or the S.enate-confmned 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 ofprobable cause. Then-DireGtor James Corney signed three FISA applications
in question on behalfofthe 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 behalfofDOJ.
Due to the sensitive nature offoreign intelligence activity, FISA submissions (including
renewals) before the FISC are classified. As such, the public's confidence in the integrity ofthe
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 ofAmericans, which is reiriforced by 90-day renewals ofsurveillance
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 ofthe FISA
HSI SEd& 1//rQOI Ol641
PROPERTY OF THE U.S. HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES
application that is known by the government. In the case of Carter Page, the government had at
least four independent opportunities before the FISC to accurately provide an accounting ofthe
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 behalfofthe
Democratic Nati-onal Committee (DNC) and the ~llary Clinton campaign formed an
essential part ofthe 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 Tnunp's ties
to Russia.
a) Neither the initial application in October 2016, nor any ofthe renewals, disclose or
reference the role ofthe DNC, Clinton campaign, or_ any party/campaign in funding
Steele's efforts, even though the political origins ofthe Steele dossier were then
known to senior DOJ and FBI officials.
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 actor~ were involved with the Steele dossier). The application does
not mention Steele was ultimately working on behalfof-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 byMichael Islkoff, 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 himselfto 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 Ne-Ws-and several other outlets-in
September 2016 at the direction ofFusion 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.
a) Steele was suspended and then terminated as an FBI source for what the FBI defines
as the most serious ofviolations-an unauthorized disclosure to the media ofhis
relationship with the FBI in an October 30, 2016, Mother Jones article by David
Com. Steele should have been terminated for his previous undisclosed contacts with
Yahoo and other outlets in September-before the Page application was submitted to
UNCLASSIFIED
1'61 SLC£&1/IIQU£ OIGQ
PROPERTY OF THE U.S. HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES
POP SECKE£1/IQUIUlG.
the FISC in October-but Steele improperly concealed from and lied to the FBI about
those contacts.
b) Steele's numerous encounters with the media violated the cardinal rule ofsource
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 ofthe Page FISA applications.
a) During this same time period, Ohr's wife was employed by Fusion GPS to assist in
the cultivation of opposition research on Trump. Ohr later provided the FBI with all
ofhis 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 ofthe FBI's counterintelligence division, Assistant Director Bill
Priestap, corroboration ofthe Steele dossier was in its "infancy" at the time ofthe 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 Corney briefed President-elect Trump
on a summary ofthe 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 ofcredible 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 Decemper 2017 that po surveillance warrant
would have been sought from the FISC without the Steele dossier information.
UNCLASSIFIED
; .l)
'liOF BBOM*:IlfOFBg
PROPERTY OF THE U.S. HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES
'IIOf JB@!MJIIJ1 flJf GIG'
5) The Page FISA application also mentions information regarding fellow Trump campaign
advisor George Paf>adopoulos, but there is no evidence of any cooperation or conspiracy
between Page and Papadopoulos. The Papadopoulos information triggered the opening
ofan 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), wh,ere 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.
UNCLASSIFIED
161 SECIWI//1461 Of~
PROPERTY OF THE U.S. HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES

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Read the Memo

  • 1. THE WHITE HOUSE WASHINGTON 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) ofRule X ofthe House of Representatives, the Committee has forwarded this Memorandum to the President based on its determination that the release ofthe 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 ofNavy 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 ofthe United States. The Committee has now determined that the release ofthe Memorandum would be appropriate. The Executive Branch, across Administrations ofboth parties, has worked to accommodate congressional requests to declassify specific materials in the public interest.1 However, public release of classified information by unilateral action ofthe Legislative Branch is extremely rare and raises significant separation ofpowers 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 ofour national security represents his highest obligation. Accordingly, he has directed lawyers and national security staffto assess the 1 See, e.g., S. Rept. 114-8 at 12 (Administration ofBarack Obama) ("On April3, 2014 ... the Committee agreed to send the revised Findings and Conclusions, and the updated Executive Summary ofthe Committee Study, to the President for declassification and public release."); H. Rept. 107-792 (Administration ofGeorge W. Bush) (similar); E.O. 12812 (Administration ofGeorge H.W. Bush) (noting Senate resolution requesting that President provide for declassification ofcertain information via Executive Order).
  • 2. declassification request, consistent with established standards governing the handling of classified information, including those under Section 3.l(d) ofExecutive 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 ofNational Intelligence and the Department ofJustice. Consistent with this review and these standards, the President has determined that declassification ofthe Memorandum is appropriate. Based on this assessment and in light ofthe significant public interest in the memorandum, the President has authorized the declassification ofthe Memorandum. To be clear, the Memorandum reflects the judgments ofits congressional authors. The President understands that oversight concerning matters related to the Memorandum may be continuing. Though the circumstances leading te 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. cc: The Honorable Paul Ryan Speaker ofthe House ofRepresentatives The Honorable Adam Schiff Sincerely, ~~ Donald F. McGahn II Counsel to the President Ranking Member, House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence
  • 3. UNCLASSIFIED' ON@!RfYT:1 fOFOFt!4 To: From: Subject: Purpose January 18, 2018 HPSCI Majority Members HPSCI Majority Staff Declassified by order ofthe President February 2, 2018 Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act Abuses at the Department ofJustice and the Federal Bureau ofInvestigation This memorandum provides Members an update on significant facts relating to the Committee's ongoing investigation into the Department ofJustice (DOJ) and Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) and their use ofthe Foreign .Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) during the 2016 presidential election cycle. Our findings, which are detailed belo_w, 1) raise conce11;1s with the legitimacy and legality of certain DOJ and FBI interactions with the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court (FISC), and 2) represent a troubling breakdown oflegal 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 ofthe FBI. It then required the approval ofthe Attorney General, Deputy Attorney General (DAG), or the S.enate-confmned 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 ofprobable cause. Then-DireGtor James Corney signed three FISA applications in question on behalfofthe 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 behalfofDOJ. Due to the sensitive nature offoreign intelligence activity, FISA submissions (including renewals) before the FISC are classified. As such, the public's confidence in the integrity ofthe 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 ofAmericans, which is reiriforced by 90-day renewals ofsurveillance 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 ofthe FISA HSI SEd& 1//rQOI Ol641 PROPERTY OF THE U.S. HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES
  • 4. 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 ofthe 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 behalfofthe Democratic Nati-onal Committee (DNC) and the ~llary Clinton campaign formed an essential part ofthe 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 Tnunp's ties to Russia. a) Neither the initial application in October 2016, nor any ofthe renewals, disclose or reference the role ofthe DNC, Clinton campaign, or_ any party/campaign in funding Steele's efforts, even though the political origins ofthe Steele dossier were then known to senior DOJ and FBI officials. 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 actor~ were involved with the Steele dossier). The application does not mention Steele was ultimately working on behalfof-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 byMichael Islkoff, 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 himselfto 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 Ne-Ws-and several other outlets-in September 2016 at the direction ofFusion 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. a) Steele was suspended and then terminated as an FBI source for what the FBI defines as the most serious ofviolations-an unauthorized disclosure to the media ofhis relationship with the FBI in an October 30, 2016, Mother Jones article by David Com. Steele should have been terminated for his previous undisclosed contacts with Yahoo and other outlets in September-before the Page application was submitted to UNCLASSIFIED 1'61 SLC£&1/IIQU£ OIGQ PROPERTY OF THE U.S. HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES
  • 5. POP SECKE£1/IQUIUlG. the FISC in October-but Steele improperly concealed from and lied to the FBI about those contacts. b) Steele's numerous encounters with the media violated the cardinal rule ofsource 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 ofthe Page FISA applications. a) During this same time period, Ohr's wife was employed by Fusion GPS to assist in the cultivation of opposition research on Trump. Ohr later provided the FBI with all ofhis 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 ofthe FBI's counterintelligence division, Assistant Director Bill Priestap, corroboration ofthe Steele dossier was in its "infancy" at the time ofthe 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 Corney briefed President-elect Trump on a summary ofthe 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 ofcredible 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 Decemper 2017 that po surveillance warrant would have been sought from the FISC without the Steele dossier information. UNCLASSIFIED ; .l) 'liOF BBOM*:IlfOFBg PROPERTY OF THE U.S. HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES
  • 6. 'IIOf JB@!MJIIJ1 flJf GIG' 5) The Page FISA application also mentions information regarding fellow Trump campaign advisor George Paf>adopoulos, but there is no evidence of any cooperation or conspiracy between Page and Papadopoulos. The Papadopoulos information triggered the opening ofan 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), wh,ere 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. UNCLASSIFIED 161 SECIWI//1461 Of~ PROPERTY OF THE U.S. HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES