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Trump-Russia inquiry: What does the long-awaited Democrat memo mean?

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By Amina Tasnim, BA History

The Trump-Russia inquiry has seen a significant development with the release of the long-awaited Democratic memo by The House Intelligence Committee on February 24thth.

Alex van der Zwaan, 33, pleaded guilty to lying to the FBI about his relations with Rick Gates, who was a part of the Trump campaign. Van der Zwaan failed to inform prosecutors of emails sent and disclosing names of certain people who have also been a part of this investigation. This marked a significant turn of events, further suggesting that there was a joint scheme between the Trump electoral campaign and Russia.

Representative Adam Schiff released the ten-page memo alongside a tweet, which read: “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.”

This document is a rebuttal to the four-page Nunes memo which was released earlier this month, entailing details of the FBI and their use of Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) during the presidential elections of 2016.

Former M16 Agent Christopher Steele put together a dossier, known as the Trump-Russia dossier, containing major details of Trump-Russian connections. The Nunes memo highlighted was that Steeles’s investigative research was part funded by Democrats, specifically the Clinton campaign and the Democratic National Committee, but this fact was not made known to the court. For this reason, Steele’s work was considered be biased and improper.

The Democrat memo, however, says FBI’s investigation into the Trump-Russian links have “been based on troubling law enforcement and intelligence information unrelated to the dossier”.

The contents of this newly-released memo by the House Intelligence Committee were made public in order to counter allegations made by Republicans. The memo itself reads that the “FBI and DOJ officials did not “abuse” the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) process, omit material information, or subvert this vital tool to spy on the Trump campaign”.

It memo aimed to counter the narrative created by Republicans who have argued that the FBI and the Department of Justice conspired against Trump in the investigation of his connections with Russia. The memo seems to defend the actions of the FBI and the DOJ by stating, “In fact, the DOJ and the FBI 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”.

Carter Page, who was suspected of being a Russian agent, is the reason a FISA warrant was initially requested by the FBI in 2016. Page worked closely with Trump during his campaign in 2016. Both the FBI and the DOJ (Department of Justice) had reason to believe Page was in contact with the Kremlin thus, proceeded to investigate him.

Trump has been persistent in his claim that there was no such collusion between his side and the Russians. Trump vented his feelings concerning the memo on Twitter, claiming: “The Democrat memo response on government surveillance abuses is a total political and legal BUST. Just confirms all of the terrible things that were done. SO ILLEGAL!”.

The Democrat memo has marked a significant change in this case, but we still await answers on the Trump-Russia connections and possible collusion during the 2016 presidential elections.

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