‘The government has a responsibility to provide not only the best evidence to support its case… but also the best evidence against it…’
(Ben Sellers, Liberty Headlines) A group of Republican congressmen on Thursday called on the White House to release several classified documents related to the FBI’s surveillance of Trump campaign officials under false pretenses while supposedly investigating ties with Russia.
The House members, led by New York Rep. Lee Zeldin and North Carolina Rep. Mark Meadows, first asked that the government declassify 20 pages of redacted information in the applications that the FBI made to spy on Trump adviser Carter Page.
Page was accused of being a Russian agent in the FBI petition and subsequent renewals issued by the FISA court, the shadowy tribunal which granted permission to wiretap him under the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act of 1978.
In addition, the group called for the release all of the FBI’s 302 interview memos from Bruce Ohr, a former deputy attorney general with the Justice Department, summarizing his meetings with Glenn Simpson, the head of D.C. research firm Fusion GPS, and Christopher Steele, a former British intelligence agent whose claims about the Trump camp were collected by Fusion.
The Fusion-generated report, now known as the Steele Dossier, was funded as opposition research by the Hillary Clinton campaign, and the FBI used the information to justify the FISA warrants without disclosing on its conflicts of interest—among them, the role that Ohr’s wife played in creating the dossier while employed by Fusion.
Many of the “salacious and unverified” claims made by Steele were later discredited, Zeldin said.
“Steele admitted [that he was] desperate Trump not get elected and passionate about him not being president,” he said.
Zeldin said that the discrediting of the information underscored the need for the full and unredacted FISA warrants to be disclosed, short of revealing any information about specific sources and surveillance methods.
“The government has a responsibility to provide not only the best evidence to support its case… but also the best evidence against it,” he said.
Meadows said that in his meetings with Trump, the president seemed supportive of the releasing the documents.
“In my conversations with president and the administration, he has been very consistent on wanting transparency, and I have not seen a major push-back,” he said.
One of the key objectives, Meadows said, in seeing the documents was to determine how bias may have played a role in the FBI’s decisions on how to pursue the case.
After Ohr’s meetings with Simpson and Steele, he reported the information back to several top FBI officials, including deputy chief Andrew McCabe, counterintelligence head Peter Strzok and attorney Lisa Page.
Their bias against Trump was documented in an Inspector General’s report released in April that resulted in McCabe’s firing.
“I’m here to tell you today that there is more than a reasonable doubt that those allegations [of bias] are true, so let’s declassify the documents,” Meadows said.
But Arizona Rep. Andy Biggs added that the bias was only part of the problem, as the officials involved also seemed to show little contrition for the ethical breaches, even after getting caught.
“If these folks continue to display a lack of conscience or remorse, it indicates that we may have a bigger problem than we perceive today,” Biggs said.
The group, which also included Florida Rep. Matt Gaetz and Ohio Rep. Jim Jordan, later took questions from the press in attendance.
While most focused on the Steele Dossier and Russian collusion investigation, one reporter asked about an anonymous op-ed published the day prior in The New York Times, which suggested that members of Trump’s own staff were actively involved in undermining the president.
“That person should not be inside of the administration, and they should submit their resignation and move on to something else,” Zeldin said. “If they want to go join the resistance, if they want to fight President Trump, they should not do it from a position where it is very important for us to have the best people possible to protect American national security.”
Meadows said he was certain that the person would eventually be discovered.
“Nothing in this town stays secret forever, and ultimately we will find out who is the author,” he said.