We made sense of the ongoing memo war that divided the House Russia investigation along party lines

  • Republicans on the House Intelligence Committee ended their investigation on Monday into Russia’s interference in the 2016 US election and whether President Trump’s campaign colluded with Moscow.
  • But Democrats and Republicans remain divided over the matter. A series of memos and letters released last month underscore core divisions between the two parties.
  • As we look ahead to what their conclusion means going forward, here’s how the two sides disagree on eight key questions.

Republicans on the House Intelligence Committee concluded their investigation on Monday into allegations that President Donald Trump’s campaign colluded with Russia to tilt the 2016 US election in his favour.

The GOP claimed it “found no evidence of collusion, coordination, or conspiracy between the Trump campaign and the Russians,” bringing an end to an investigation that was frequently overshadowed by partisan infighting among members on the committee.

Meanwhile, three other investigations conducted by the Senate Intelligence Committee, the Senate Judiciary Committee, and the special counsel Robert Mueller are still underway.

The House investigation was initially spearheaded by committee chairman Devin Nunes, whose decision to release a highly controversial memo alleging surveillance abuses by the FBI and Department of Justice sparked a fiery debate in Washington over key facts related to the Russia probe.

Nunes, an ardent supporter of President Donald Trump, was forced to recuse himself from the committee’s investigation last year amid an ethics investigation into his handling of classified intelligence. Although Nunes stepped aside from the Russia probe in April 2017, he has remained a key presence in the panel’s inquiry, particularly as it relates to investigating what he characterises as anti-Trump bias and corruption within the FBI and DOJ.

In February, Trump authorised the release of the so-called Nunes memo. The four-page document accused officials at the FBI and the Department of Justice of misleading the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court in 2016 to obtain a warrant against Carter Page, a former foreign policy adviser for the Trump campaign.

FBI and DOJ officials must request permission and obtain a warrant from the court to monitor suspected spies in the US. Page, who had been on the FBI’s radar since at least 2013, was suspected on multiple occasions of being an unwitting Russian agent.

But Republicans say top law enforcement officials corrupted the FISA application process to undermine Trump’s campaign. Meanwhile, Democrats argue the Republican claims did not hold merit and were meant to distract from Mueller’s investigation.

At the center of the debate is Christopher Steele, a former British intelligence officer who spent months in the run-up to the 2016 election researching Trump’s ties to Russia for Fusion GPS, a Washington-based private research firm. Fusion GPS was working on behalf of the law firm Perkins Coie, which represented Hillary Clinton’s presidential campaign.

Steele’s research culminated in what is now known as the Trump-Russia dossier, a compilation of memos that allege Russia has compromising information on Trump. Buzzfeed News first reported on the dossier in January 2017, less than two weeks before Trump assumed office.

On February 6, Republican Sens. Chuck Grassley and Lindsey Graham released a letter providing additional support for the Nunes memo. Then on February 24, Democrats on the House Intelligence Committee, led by Rep. Adam Schiff, released a memo of their own to counter Republicans’ claims.

Here’s how Republicans and Democrats differ on eight key questions:

How much did the FBI and the DOJ rely on the Steele dossier in their FISA application?


Did US officials corroborate Steele’s findings?


Who were Steele’s sources for the dossier?


Did the FBI pay Steele for information related to Trump-Russia?


Did the FBI and DOJ explain the dossier’s connections to Hillary Clinton?


Did the FBI or the DOJ know about Steele’s unauthorised contacts with the media before firing him as an informant in late October 2016?


What’s so important about the September 23, 2016, Yahoo News article by Michael Isikoff?


Should it matter that Steele communicated with former DOJ associate deputy attorney general Bruce Ohr?