Attorney General Jeff Sessions told reporters Tuesday that the inspector general of his Justice Department is looking into the allegations published in the declassified Republican memo, which alleges FISA abuse related to Donald Trump's associates.
One of the key claims in the memo is that FBI agents misled judges in a 2016 FISA warrant application for Trump advisor Carter Page, particularly by failing to disclose that the Steele dossier was funded by the Democratic National Committee and the Hillary Clinton campaign.
"The application does not mention Steele was ultimately working on behalf of — and paid by — the DNC and Clinton campaign, or that the FBI had separately authorized payment to Steele for the same information," the memo, written by Rep. Devin Nunes (R-CA), alleges.
At a press conference Tuesday focused on the administration's efforts to combat the opioid epidemic, Sessions responded to a question about his department looking into the allegations presented in the Nunes memo.
"We believe the Department of Justice must adhere to the high standards in the FISA court and, yes, it will be investigated," said Sessions, Politico reports.
"And I think that’s just the appropriate thing," Sessions said, referring to the secret court created by the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act. "The inspector general will take that as one of the matters they’ll deal with," he added.
Politico confirmed with a spokeswoman for Sessions that the memo's claims were indeed being investigated by the Justice Department inspector general and referred further questions to the office of IG Michael Horowitz, who, Politico notes, announced in January 2017 that he was looking into whether "political considerations affected the FBI's handling of the investigation into Hillary Clinton's private email server."
In response to the news that Sessions had tasked Horowitz with looking into the memo's allegations, a furious President Trump responded by blasting Sessions for the "disgraceful" decision to give the investigation to the IG.
"Why is A.G. Jeff Sessions asking the Inspector General to investigate potentially massive FISA abuse," tweeted Trump. "Will take forever, has no prosecutorial power and already late with reports on Comey etc. Isn’t the I.G. an Obama guy? Why not use Justice Department lawyers? DISGRACEFUL!"
In response to the Nunes memo, the Democrats released their own, highly-redacted memo on Saturday that provides a series of counter-claims to Nunes' allegations. As The Daily Wire highlighted, the memo, written by Rep. Adam Schiff (D-CA), makes several counter-assertions, including:
1) the Page warrant didn’t start the investigation (which Nunes acknowledged in his memo); 2) the Steele dossier wasn’t the sole basis for the FISA application; 3) three of the four judges were Republican-appointed; 4) the warrant on Page doesn't constitute a "wiretap" on the Trump campaign since he wasn't working for him at the time; 5) other FISA warrants didn't rely only on the Steele dossier; 6) the DOJ didn’t lie about the dossier; and 7) the FBI stopped using the Steele dossier after learning he talked to the media.
H/T John Sexton
This article has been updated to include Trump's tweet and Sessions' response.