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Maybe Adam Schiff has more of a sense of humor than I’d have given him credit for. The House Intelligence Committee’s ranking Democrat begins his long-awaited memo — the minority response to the Nunes memo that was penned by staffers of the committee’s Republican majority — by slamming Chairman Devin Nunes’s unconscionable “risk of public exposure of sensitive sources and methods for no legitimate purpose.” The Schiff memo, which has been delayed for weeks because the FBI objected to its gratuitous effort to publicize highly classified intelligence, including methods and sources, then proceeds to tell its tale through what appear to be scores of blacked-out redactions of information Schiff pushed to expose.
Heavy Reliance on Steele Dossier Confirmed
The memo concedes that the FISA-warrant application relied on allegations by Steele’s anonymous Russian hearsay sources that:
Page met separately while in Russia with Igor Sechin, a close associate of Vladimir Putin and executive chairman of Roseneft, 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 the possibility of its being released to Candidate #1’s [i.e., Donald Trump’s] campaign. . . . This closely tracks what other Russian contacts were informing another Trump foreign policy adviser, George Papadopoulos.
This passage puts the lie to two of the main Democratic talking points:
1) This was obviously the most critical allegation against Page. The Democrats attempt to make much of Page’s trip to Moscow in July 2016, but the uncorroborated Sechin and Divyekin meetings, which Page credibly denies, are the aspect of the Moscow trip that suggested a nefarious Trump–Russia conspiracy. That’s what the investigation was about. Far from clandestine, the rest of Page’s trip was well publicized and apparently anodyne. And saliently — for reasons we’ll get to in due course — Page was clearly prepared to talk to the FBI about the trip if the Bureau wanted to know what he was up to.
Moreover, because Page was an American citizen, FISA law required that the FBI and the DOJ show not only that he was acting as an agent of a foreign power (Russia), but also that his “clandestine” activities on behalf of Russia were a likely violation of federal criminal law. (See FISA, Section 1801(b)(2)(A) through (E), Title 50, U.S. Code.) It is the Steele dossier that alleges Page was engaged in arguably criminal activity. The Democrats point to nothing else that does.
2) Democrats implausibly insist that what “launched” the FBI’s counterintelligence investigation was not Steele’s allegations but intelligence from Australia about George Papadopoulos’s contact with what Democrats elusively describe as “individuals linked to Russia.” As we learned when Papadopoulos pled guilty, though, it is anything but clear that these “individuals linked to Russia” had much in the way of links to Putin’s regime: London-based academic Joseph Misfud, who is from Malta and apparently does not speak Russian; an unidentified woman who falsely pretended to be Putin’s niece; and Ivan Timofeev, a program director at a Russian-government-funded think tank.