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What is the Democrats’ rebuttal to Nunes’ memo? 5 things to know about the document

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The House Intelligence Committee officially released the Democratic rebuttal to the controversial GOP memo that purported to show improper use of surveillance by the FBI and Justice Department (DOJ) during the 2016 presidential campaign.

The Feb. 24 release came after the White House initially instructed Democratic lawmakers to revise their rebuttal memo regarding the Russia investigation, saying the document required certain redactions before it could be made public.

Earlier this month, Trump made public – without redactions – a memo written by Republicans on the committee that detailed alleged surveillance abuses by the FBI and DOJ in its probe into Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election. Trump further stirred controversy when he said the memo “totally vindicates” him of any wrongdoing.

Here’s a look at what the Democrats’ partially blacked out 10-page memo contained.

Redactions

Unlike the Republican memo, largely authored by Rep. Devin Nunes, R-Calif., the Democrats’ rebuttal was released with many blacked out portions.

Most of the redactions appear to be related to intelligence regarding Russian activities, including contacts former Trump adviser Carter Page had with Russian-linked individuals. One section with multiple redactions is titled “Page’s connections to Russian Government and Intelligence Officials.”

Page was the subject of a surveillance warrant obtained by the FBI and DOJ as part of their probe, according to the GOP version.

One redaction appears to involve former Trump aide George Papadopoulos. And another appears to block out information related to compensation the FBI considered giving to dossier author and former British spy Christopher Steele.

Even before the memo’s release, Rep. Adam Schiff, the top Democrat on the House Intelligence Committee, said he was wary of the redactions Trump would require for “political purposes.”

Contradicting the Nunes memo

The rebuttal released on Feb. 24 claims officials at the FBI and DOJ “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 GOP memo alleged Steele’s controversial dossier – a 35-page document compiled for the firm Fusion GPS – “formed an essential part” of applications by the FBI and DOJ to spy on Page.

The surveillance warrant and renewals did not mention that the dossier was paid for, at least in part, by the Democratic National Committee (DNC) and the campaign for Hillary Clinton, according to the GOP memo.

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But the Democratic memo contends the DOJ did disclose the “assessed political motivation of those who hired him” and that Steele was likely hired by someone “looking for information that could be used to discredit” Trump’s campaign.

The Democrats say the FBI “made only narrow use of Steele’s sources” in the request for the FISA application.

Republicans have said that is not enough, however, because the Clinton campaign and DNC were not named.

“Dem Memo: FBI did not disclose who the clients were – the Clinton Campaign and the DNC. Wow!” Trump tweeted shortly after the Democratic document was released.

Further politicization of the probe

The Democrats’ memo, seen as a rebuttal to the GOP’s document, was deemed a “politically driven document” by the White House following its release.

White House press secretary Sarah Sanders said the memo “fails to even address the fact that the Deputy FBI Director told the Committee that had it not been for the dossier, no surveillance order would have been sought.”

‘Bolsters’ FBI credibility

Rep. Eric Swalwell, D-Calif., previously told Fox News the Democrats’ document “bolsters” the FBI’s credibility in the Russia probe. He said the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court was given a “voluminous amount” of evidence to obtain the warrant to spy on Page.

The memo contended the FBI had an “independent basis” for investigating Page’s motivations. It also said the DOJ “repeatedly informed the Court about Steele’s background, credibility and potential bias.”

“The FBI had ample reason to believe that Carter Page was acting as an agent of a foreign power based on his history, including the fact that he had previously been a target of Russian recruitment, his travel to Russia, and other information,” Schiff said in a statement. “The renewals of FISA were also appropriate and based on new information obtained by law enforcement.”

Additionally, the Democrats’ memo challenged the Republican claim that the FBI authorized payment to Steele, saying it neglected to include that the payment was cancelled.

However, the new memo said the dossier was corroborated by multiple sources – the opposite of what former FBI Director James Comey told the Senate Intelligence Committee in June 2017. He said then, three months after the warrant had been granted for Page, that the dossier was considered “salacious” and “unverified” when he briefed incoming President Trump in January 2017.

Points of agreement

The two memos weren’t in complete opposition to one another.

Both memos said the Steele dossier was not the catalyst for the FBI opening its counterintelligence investigation into links between the Russia investigation and the Trump campaign. And both memos showed the investigation was prompted by concerns about contacts between Papadopoulos and individuals linked to Russia.

Fox News’ Madeline Farber, Adam Shaw and The Associated Press contributed to this report. 

Kaitlyn Schallhorn is a Reporter for Fox News. Follow her on Twitter @K_Schallhorn.



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YouTube suspends GOP Sen. Ron Johnson’s account, says he violated Covid-19 policy

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YouTube suspended Sen. Ron Johnson’s account on Friday after the Wisconsin Republican posted his recent remarks about alternative therapies to treat Covid-19.

“We removed the video in accordance with our COVID-19 medical misinformation policies, which don’t allow content that encourages people to use Hydroxychloroquine or Ivermectin to treat or prevent the virus,” a YouTube spokesperson said in a statement.

Johnson’s account is blocked from uploading videos for a week. The company’s policy states it does not allow content that spreads medical misinformation contradicting local health authorities or the World Health Organization’s information about Covid-19, regardless of the speaker.

In a June 3 virtual appearance before the Milwaukee Press Club, Johnson criticized the Trump and Biden administrations for “not only ignoring but working against robust research (on) the use of cheap, generic drugs to be repurposed for early treatment of COVID,” the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel reported.

His ban comes as Republicans have increasingly been at loggerheads with tech companies over the perceived censorship of conservatives, and a month after former President Donald Trump’s ban from Facebook was upheld. Trump is also still banned or restricted from using YouTube, Instagram and Twitter, among other platforms.

Corri Hess, the president of the Milwaukee Press Club, tweeted Friday afternoon that the group would not remove “the on the record event with journalists.” However, by Friday evening, she posted that the video of the remarks had been removed by YouTube from the press club’s channel.

Johnson’s office slammed the tech giant for the move in a statement.

“YouTube’s ongoing Covid censorship proves they have accumulated too much unaccountable power. Big Tech and mainstream media believe they are smarter than medical doctors who have devoted their lives to science and use their skills to save lives,” Johnson said in the statement.

“They have decided there is only one medical viewpoint allowed and it is the viewpoint dictated by government agencies. How many lives will be lost as a result? How many lives could have been saved with a free exchange of medical ideas? Government-sanctioned censorship of ideas and speech should concern us all.”

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In NBC interview, Putin calls Trump ‘colorful’ but says he can work with Biden

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Russian President Vladimir Putin, in an exclusive interview Friday with NBC News, called former President Donald Trump a “colorful individual” and said he can work with President Joe Biden.

Putin compared the two presidents at a time when relations between Russia and the United States are at a historic low and ahead of the Russian leader’s upcoming summit with Biden.

“Well even now, I believe that former U.S. president Mr. Trump is an extraordinary individual, talented individual, otherwise he would not have become U.S. president,” Putin told NBC’s Keir Simmons during a wide-ranging and, at times, contentious interview. “He is a colorful individual. You may like him or not. And, but he didn’t come from the U.S. establishment. He had not been part of big-time politics before, and some like it, some don’t like it but that is a fact.”

As for Biden, Putin said the current White House occupant “is radically different from Trump because President Biden is a career man. He has spent virtually his entire adulthood in politics.”

“That’s a different kind of person, and it is my great hope that, yes, there are some advantages, some disadvantages, but there will not be any impulse-based movements on behalf of the sitting U.S. president,” he said.

Trump has been criticized for cozying up to Putin. After their sole summit in July 2018 in Helsinki, Trump set off shockwaves when he refused to side with U.S. intelligence agencies over Putin’s denials of Russian interference in the 2016 election.

Meanwhile, Biden has said on numerous occasions that he told Putin to his face that he doesn’t “have a soul” during a Kremlin visit in 2011 when he was vice president.

But both men have agreed that Putin, who has been accused of ordering the assassinations of political opponents, is a “killer.”

Asked point-blank by Simmons during the 90-minute Kremlin interview whether he was a “killer,” Putin gave an evasive answer.

“Over my tenure, I’ve gotten used to attacks from all kinds of angles and from all kinds of areas under all kinds of pretext and reasons and of different caliber and fierceness, and none of it surprises me,” Putin said, calling the “killer” label “Hollywood macho.”

Pressed further by Simmons, who mentioned by name some of the Putin opponents who have been killed in recent years, the Russian leader bristled.

“Look, you know, I don’t want to come across as being rude, but this looks like some kind of indigestion except that it’s verbal indigestion. You’ve mentioned many individuals who indeed suffered and perished at different points in time for various reasons, at the hands of different individuals,” he said.

Putin also dismissed as “nonsense” a Washington Post report that Russia was preparing to offer Iran an advanced satellite system that would enable Tehran to track military targets, including the remaining U.S. troops in Iraq.

“It’s just fake news,” he said. “At the very least, I don’t know anything about this kind of thing. Those who are speaking about it probably will maybe know more about it. It’s just nonsense, garbage.”

Additional portions of the interview will be broadcast by NBC News on Monday on “TODAY” and “Nightly News with Lester Holt” and on MSNBC.

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Brexit showdown: Boris to confront Macron, Merkel and VDL as row boils over at G7 summit

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BORIS JOHNSON faces a showdown with EU leaders on Saturday in a series of crunch meetings on the sidelines of the G7.

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