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Democratic rebuttal to GOP FISA memo sparks reactions from politicians

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The House Intelligence Committee on Saturday released a long-anticipated Democratic rebuttal that attempts to dismantle claims made in a GOP memo alleging the government used improper surveillance tactics during the 2016 presidential campaign.

The rebuttal claims that officials at the FBI and Justice Department “did not abuse the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) process, omit material information, or subvert this vital tool to spy on the Trump campaign.”

The Democratic rebuttal backed the FBI and DOJ in its pursuit of the FISA warrant, saying that the agencies “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.”

They added that the DOJ met the “rigor, transparency, and evidentiary basis” needed to meet FISA’s probable cause requirement.

The GOP memo, released in early February, asserted that the FBI and DOJ relied on a Democrat-funded anti-Trump dossier to ask the FISA court for a warrant to monitor Page, a one-time adviser to President Donald Trump. They also claimed that the agencies left out the DNC’s funding of the dossier and the anti-Trump motivations of author Christopher Steele, a onetime British spy, in its request for a warrant.

The Democratic memo was voted out of committee earlier this month but a redrafting was ordered after the White House demanded that sensitive information be stripped out before the document be made public. The Justice Department and FBI claimed the initial draft would reveal information about sources and methods, ongoing investigations and other sensitive information.

President Trump tweeted following the rebuttal memo’s release, calling it “a total political and legal BUST.”

He added: “Dem Memo: FBI did no disclose who the client were – the Clinton Campaign and the DNC. Wow!”

Here are some other reactions to the memo:

White House

White House Press Secretary Sarah Sanders calls the rebuttal a “politically driven document” which “fails to answer serious concerns raised by the Majority’s memorandum about the use of partisan opposition research from one candidate, loaded with uncorroborated allegations, as a basis to ask a court to approve surveillance of a former associate of another candidate, at the height of a presidential campaign.”

Rep. Adam Schiff, D-Calif.

Ranking Democrat Adam Schiff, who spearheaded the rebuttal’s release, said it should “put to rest” any concerns about conduct by the intelligence agencies. Along with a copy of the memo, he tweeted Saturday: “Some time ago, Republicans on our committee released a declassified memo that omitted and distorted key facts in order to mislead the public and impugn the integrity of the FBI. We can now tell you what they left out.”

In a follow-up tweet, Schiff responded to Trump’s comment about the memo confirming “all of the terrible things that were done.”

“Wrong again, Mr. President,” Schiff said. “It confirms the FBI acted appropriately and that Russian agents approached two of your advisors, and informed your campaign that Russia was prepared to help you by disseminating stolen Clinton emails.”

Rep. Devin Nunes, R-Calif.

House Intelligence Committee chairman Rep. Devin Nunes, D-Calif., who spearheaded the release of the GOP memo, said in a statement that Americans “now clearly understand that the FBI used political dirt pair for the by Democratic Party to spy on an American citizen from the Republican Party.”

“Furthermore, the FISA court was misled about Mr. Page’s past interactions with the FBI in which he helped build a case against Russian operatives in America who were brought to justice,” Nunes said. “It defies belief that the Department of Justice and the FBI failed to provide information to a secret court that they had provided to an open federal court regarding their past interactions with Mr. Page.”

Sen. Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif.

Sen. Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif., tweeted that “the Schiff memo is a well-considered rebuttal to the misinformation in the Nunes memo,” which she added, “shouldn’t have seen the light of day.”

Sen. Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y.

Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer said the Democratic memo indicated “that Chairman Nunes cherry-picked and distorted information from sensitive inteligence to sow discord and undermine” the FBI. 

“By initially delaying the release of hte memo, the president purposefully silenced any Democratic rebuttal to the fabricated conspiracy theories pushed by Chairman Nunes,” he added. “Obviously, there is something the president is afraid of.”

Rep. Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif.

House Minority Leader Rep. Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., in a statement said the Democratic response “helps set the record straight on Republicans’ attempts to obstruct the investigation into the Trump-Russia scandal.”

She added that it was “imperative” for lawmakers on the other side of the aisle to “end their political charades” and said Congress needed to “take real action to investigate the Russian attacks on our democracy.”

Sen. Mark Warner, D-VA

Sen. Mark Warner, D-VA, called the FBI’s actions “fully appropriate and entirely lawful” and said it was “deeply unfortunate that House Republicans decided to the release classified information in order to mislead the American people for partisan political purposes.”

“Now that the Nunes memo has been thoroughly debunked, the White House and its allies in Congress must put a stop to the dangerous partisan sideshows that jeopardize classified sources and methods and focus on Russia’s unprecedented interference in our election.”

Fox News’ Adam Shaw, Madeline Farber and Kaitlyn Scallhorn contributed to this report.



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Trump sends cease-and-desist letters to GOP campaign committees

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WASHINGTON — Attorneys for former President Donald Trump sent cease-and-desist letters Friday to three Republican organizations asking them to stop using the former president’s name and likeness in fundraising appeals and merchandise, a Trump adviser said Saturday.

The letters were sent to the Republican National Committee, the National Republican Congressional Committee and the National Republican Senate Committee — arms of the party tasked with raising money and shaping messaging, among other things, for the midterm elections and beyond.

The committees did not immediately respond to NBC News’ request for comment. Politico was first to report the news.

Since Trump left office, the committees have repeatedly referenced him in emails asking for donations, hoping to use the president’s popularity among some segments of the party to bolster their war chest as they work to win back control of the House and Senate in 2022.

Trump, however, has been reluctant to offer his support to the party establishment after he lost the presidency and was then impeached for a second time. Ten House Republicans voted with Democrats to impeach Trump, and seven Senate Republicans voted to convict him for allegedly inciting the deadly mob that attacked the Capitol on Jan. 6 intent on disrupting the electoral vote count formalizing Joe Biden’s election win before a joint session of Congress. While that is by far the most bipartisan support for conviction in impeachment history, the final vote was 57 to 43, 10 short of the 67 votes needed to secure a conviction.

After visiting with Trump at his Mar-a-Lago resort in January, House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy, R-Calif., told reporters that Trump had not committed to staying out of Republican House primaries.

At the Conservative Political Action Conference last weekend in Florida, Trump listed off the names of congressional Republicans who voted to impeach or convict him and said, “get rid of them all.”

He also told attendees “there’s only one way to contribute to our efforts” to elect Trump Republicans: donating to his PAC, or via his website.



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Laurence Fox to run for London Mayor in direct challenge to Sadiq Khan's 'woke politics'

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THE actor Laurence Fox has announced that he will run for London Mayor in a bid to stop Sadiq Khan from tearing down the capital’s heritage and end lockdown early.

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In court filing, ICE says it is effectively ending use of family detention

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WASHINGTON — In a federal court filing Friday night, Immigration and Customs Enforcement said it is transitioning family detention centers to short-term facilities that will release families after no more than 72 hours.

ICE’s disclosure, made in the Flores lawsuit brought more than a decade ago on behalf of immigrant children, effectively suggests that the agency is ending family detention, a policy started under the Obama administration in 2014.

The Trump administration sought to expand family detention by holding families over 20 days, the limit imposed by the judge in the Flores case.

As of Friday, only 13 families remained in ICE detention, and seven had been scheduled for release that day. The remaining six families are scheduled to be released March 7 unless they test positive for Covid-19, in which case they will be required to remain for a quarantine period before they are released.

At the start of the Biden administration, ICE operated three family detention facilities: Two in Texas, located in Dilley and Karnes counties, and one in Pennsylvania. As of February 26, all families from the Pennsylvania facility have been released, according to the filing Friday.

The two Texas facilities will become short-term centers, while the Pennsylvania facility, Berks Family Residential Center, will no longer house families, the filing said.

In an interview with NBC News on Thursday, Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas said ICE detention is “not where a family belongs.”

Bridget Cambria, an immigration attorney whose firm has represented over 100 families detained at Berks since 2014, hailed ICE’s disclosure as a win for advocates, but said the agency’s policy of family detention wasn’t over until all the facilities are closed.

“The removal of parents and children from Berks is the result of years of advocacy, organizing and litigation all of which demonstrated that the detention of families is immoral and inhumane, that jailing children for any period of time is harmful and, of course, that our community absolutely rejects the idea of a babyjail in our backyard,” Cambria said.

She added: “However, we do not welcome further incarceration of human beings in ICE custody in Berks in any form. And the fight of family detention is not over until [the Department of Homeland Security] cancels its contracts with existing family detention centers in Texas, and closes Dilley and Karnes.”

NBC News previously reported that the Biden administration had planned to drastically decrease the number of immigrant families in ICE detention, paving the way for an end to the policy of family detention.

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