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1ST LEAD Democrats' rebuttal of FBI allegations in Russia probe released By Friederike Heine, dpa

Europe
24.02.2018
By our dpa-correspondent and Europe Online    auf Facebook posten  Auf Twitter posten  
Washington (dpa) - The US Congress on Saturday released a redacted version of a controversial Democratic memo that seeks to undercut Republican claims of FBI misconduct in seeking a surveillance warrant in the Russia probe.

Earlier this month, the White House objected to releasing the memo - authored by the House intelligence committee‘s top Democrat, Adam Schiff - saying it contained sensitive information.

The document comes in response to a Republican memo which claimed the FBI withheld the partisan nature of a research dossier it used to obtain a surveillance warrant against Carter Page, a foreign policy advisor to US President Donald Trump during his election campaign.

FBI Director Christopher Wray and other senior law enforcement officials warned that the Republican memo was biased and omitted important information, but it was nonetheless approved for release by Trump earlier this month.

"The Democratic response memo released today should put to rest any concerns that the American people might have as to the conduct of the FBI, the Justice Department and the [court]," Schiff said in a statement.

He denied the Republican claim that the FBI misled the court, saying that the bureau "did disclose that those who [commissioned the dossier] were likely motivated to discredit Trump‘s presidential campaign."

The FBI "used proper masking procedures so as not to reveal the identities of US persons not subject to the [warrant], but made clear that the likely purpose was opposition research," he said.

The memo says that the FBI had ample reason to believe that Page was "acting as a foreign agent" during the 2016 presidential campaign, including the fact that he had previously been a target of Russian recruitment and had travelled to Russia.

The opposition dossier used by the FBI to obtain the warrant contains allegations Page met with Rosneft‘s executive chairman Igor Sechin, a close ally of Russian President Vladimir Putin, and a senior Kremlin official six months before the election.

The Democrats‘ memo states that Page discussed with the two Russians the prospect of "lifting Ukraine-related Western sanctions against Russia" and the possibility of handing over damaging information about Democratic candidate Hillary Clinton.

Special prosecutor Robert Mueller is investigating Russian interference in the 2016 election and possible ties to the Trump campaign.

Thirteen Russians have been indicted in the probe, and two former aides in Trump‘s campaign have been charged with crimes unrelated to the alleged collusion.

 

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