President Donald Trump on Saturday claimed vindication from the wide release of a secret Congressional memo on Russia’s efforts to influence the 2016 election, insisting that the document’s findings showed there was “no collusion” between his campaign and Moscow.
Amid feverish speculation and resistance from the FBI and Congress, Trump ordered that the document be declassified, and the House Intelligence Committee posted it online.
Despite early hype, the memo failed to produce any new dramatic revelations. However, it stated that then-FBI Deputy Director Andrew McCabe testified he believed a court would not have approved the warrant for the surveillance of Trump advisor Carter Page had it not been for information that was included in a dossier assembled by former U.K. intelligence operative Christopher Steele.
The so-called “Steele dossier” has been the source of furious partisan bickering, and put the president at odds with his own law enforcement apparatus. The top levels of both the FBI and Department of Justice opposed the memo’s release, citing concerns that key elements were missing.
In a post on Twitter, Trump insisted the memo “totally vindicates” him, and once again branded the Russia probe as a “witch hunt” that has yet to uncover a smoking gun.
The 35-page Steele dossier contains several bits of raw but as yet uncorroborated intelligence about Trump and some of his campaign surrogates. The document began as research commissioned by the conservative publication Washington Free Beacon, which was the first to pay Fusion GPS, the firm that ultimately produced the controversial document.
However, the Free Beacon emphatically denied targeting Trump, and has distanced itself from Steele, a shadowy British former spy who produced the dossier after the Free Beacon first engaged Fusion GPS. He was later paid by the Democratic National Committee, the campaign of former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, and the Federal Bureau of Investigations to dig up information on Trump.