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Nunes memo: Controversial GOP memo alleging missteps in Russia probe released

The House Intelligence Committee on Friday released a controversial memo alleging missteps by the FBI and the Justice Department in the investigation into Russian meddling in the 2016 presidential election and its possible ties to President Donald Trump’s campaign.

READ MORE: Read the GOP memo accusing the FBI of misconductHouse Intelligence Committee votes to release controversial Nunes memoWhat is a FISA warrant?Democrats helped fund Trump-Russia dossier: 6 things to knowMORE

Controversial GOP memo released: 6 things to know

The House Intelligence Committee on Friday released a controversial GOP intelligence memo alleging missteps by the FBI and the Justice Department in the investigation into alleged Russian meddling in the 2016 presidential election and its possible ties to President Donald Trump’s campaign officials.

>> Read more trending news

The release came four days after the committee voted to release the memo. Trump approved of its release without redactions Friday.

>> Related: Nunes memo: Controversial GOP memo alleging missteps in Russia probe released

Here are six things to know about the memo:

1. What exactly is the memo?

The memo was written Jan. 18 by staff of the House Intelligence Committee, chaired by Rep. Devin Nunes, R-California. It was written as part of the committee’s investigation into the use of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act by FBI and Justice Department officials investigating Russian election meddling.

>> Related: Read the GOP memo accusing the FBI of misconduct

2. What is it about?

Former Trump foreign policy adviser Carter Page and the infamous -- and mostly unverified -- dossier compiled by former British intelligence officer Christopher Steele, for the most part.

>> Related: Who is Carter Page; how is he connected to the Nunes memo?

In the memo, officials claimed that investigators failed to provide “an accounting of relevant facts” when they sought and received a FISA order authorizing electronic surveillance of Page in October 2016. Officials renewed the warrant three times, each renewal covering 90 days.

3. Steele dossier ‘formed an essential part of the Carter Page FISA application

Officials said the dossier, compiled by Steele and funded in part by the Democratic National Committee and the Hillary Clinton presidential campaign, “formed an essential part of the Carter Page FISA application.” None of the applications submitted to get the FISA warrant on Page mentioned the fact that the dossier was funded by Democrats, according to the memo.

>> Related: Democrats helped fund Trump-Russia dossier: 6 things to know

Officials also questioned the veracity of the dossier and the reliability of Steele as a source for the FBI, noting that he spoke with members of the media multiple times -- a violation of “the most cardinal rule of source handling -- maintaining confidentiality” -- and made comments disparaging of Trump.

4. Information on George Papadopoulos led to FBI investigation 

Also mentioned in the FISA application was former Trump campaign foreign policy adviser George Papadopoulos, who pleaded guilty in October to lying to federal authorities investigating alleged Russian meddling and its possible ties to the Trump campaign.

>> Related: Mueller investigation: Former Trump campaign adviser George Papadopoulos pleads guilty

Information about Papadopoulos is what “triggered the opening of an FBI counterintelligence investigation in late July 2016 by FBI agent Pete Strzok,” officials said in the memo. Strzok was removed from the investigation after anti-Trump text messages between himself and FBI attorney Lisa Page surfaced. Critics have said that the messages showed a clear bias in the investigation.

>> Related: Some missing text messages between FBI employees recovered, DOJ says

5. What was Page’s role in the Trump presidential campaign?

Page wasn’t a part of the Trump presidential campaign on Oct. 21, 2016, when authorities got the warrant to surveil him.

Then-candidate Trump announced that Page would serve as part of his team in March 2016, according to PBS Newshour. Five months later, in August, Trump named him an informal adviser to the campaign as questions surfaced about a trip Page took to Moscow in July 2016. By September, Page was no longer part of the Trump campaign.

6. Who decided to release the memo?

In a letter released by officials Friday, White House counsel Donald McGahn said the memo was released after a review by lawyers and national security staff, including officials with the Office of the Director of National Security and the Justice Department.

>> Related: What is a FISA warrant?

“To be clear, the memorandum reflects the judgments of its congressional authors,” McGahn wrote. “The president understands that oversight concerning matters related to the memorandum may be continuing.”

What is a FISA warrant?

Here’s a look at the FISA Court and FISA warrants.

What is the FISA Court?

A warrant to wiretap someone suspected of spying with or for a foreign government is issued by the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court -- or FISA Court. The court is actually a tribunal whose actions are carried out in secret. The tribunal has the authority to grant warrants for electronic surveillance. The court has 11 members, all federal judges. The judges serve seven-year terms. The chief justice of the U.S. Supreme court selects the judges.

When was this court established?

The Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act of 1978 created the court and set up the rules for wiretapping of suspected spies.  

>>Read More: 10 takeaways from the hearing on election meddling by Russia

What is its mission?

The court was set up to either approve or deny warrants requested by the United States government for surveillance of foreign spies inside of the United States. That warrant requests and the intelligence gathering is generally done by federal law enforcement agencies or U.S. intelligence agencies. The authorization allows for wiretapping a "foreign power or an agent of a foreign power" (which could include American citizens) suspected to be engaged in espionage or terrorism. Methods used in an investigation include electronic surveillance, physical searches and other actions. Generally, the attorney general signs the warrant requests.

How does it work?

When an agency requests a warrant from the FISA Court, the request falls to one of the 11 judges who sit on the court. It is up to that judge to either deny or approve the request for a surveillance warrant. If the request is denied, there is an avenue for appeal of the ruling, but that has happened only a handful of times in the history of the court.

Is there any other way to get surveillance warrant?

An alternate way a warrant for surveillance can be obtained is if the U.S. attorney general declares an emergency and authorizes the employment of the surveillance. The attorney general must notify a judge on the FISA Court, and must, within seven days, apply for a warrant for the action.

What rules must they follow?

While the proceedings are secret, there are rules that have to be followed. The statute that created FISA Courts bars targeted electronic surveillance in the United States unless there is evidence that a foreign power or agent of a foreign power is involved. Also, there has to be evidence that the facility -- an email address or phone number, for instance -- is being used by the foreign power or agent. In addition, the government must show that the information to be collected is "relevant" to any investigation of foreign espionage or terrorism.

The warrants are generally issued for up to 12 months, and they authorize the government to collect “bulk information.” That means that while Americans on U.S. soil who are not agents of a foreign government are not targeted, information collected could include communication between U.S. citizens.

Can public see these warrants, they can see others?

The court’s dealings are secret, the hearings closed to the public. Records are made and kept, but those records are generally not made available to the public.

How many have been turned down?

As of 2013, the FISA court has denied only 12 warrants since its inception. It has granted more than 34,000 requests since its inception.

1 killed when train carrying GOP lawmakers strikes garbage truck

At least one person was killed and several others injured Wednesday after a train carrying Republican lawmakers to a GOP retreat in West Virginia struck a garbage truck near Crozet, Virginia, lawmakers and officials said.

READ MORE: What is The Greenbrier, the resort GOP members were headed to when their train hit a truck?MORE

CDC director resigns in wake of report she bought shares in tobacco company

The director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention resigned Wednesday in the wake of a report that she traded stock in a tobacco company after taking her position.

>> Read more trending news

 Politico reported Tuesday that CDC Director Brenda Fitzgerald bought shares in a tobacco company one month into her role.

State of the Union: 7 highlights from Trump's address

President Donald Trump vowed during his first State of the Union address that he would spend his next year in office attempting to unite the country around issues of infrastructure, immigration and national security.

>> STATE OF THE UNION: Full transcriptPhotosDem response | Stormy Daniels’ post-SOTU TV interview

Trump spent his time at the podium as many predecessors have: touting achievements such as the nation’s recent economic growth and a newly-passed tax bill and laying out his agenda for the year ahead – an agenda that he said would create a “safe, strong and proud America.”

“Tonight, I call upon all of us to set aside our differences, to seek out common ground and to summon the unity we need to deliver for the people we were elected to serve," he said.

Here are some of the highlights from Trump's speech:

National anthem controversy

Even in vowing to unite, Trump couldn’t resist a jab or two. Honoring a 12-year-old boy who plants flags at the graves of veterans, Trump inserted a subtle reminder of his distaste for NFL players who kneeled during the national anthem to protest racism.

“Preston’s reverence for those who have served our nation reminds us why we salute our flag, why we put our hands on our hearts for the pledge of allegiance and why we proudly stand for the national anthem,” he said, to raucous cheers from Republicans in the chamber.

Immigration

Immigration, too, was a fraught topic. Trump — who sparred sharply with Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer over a recent attempt to prevent the deportation of those brought here illegally as children — said such “loopholes” allowed for the proliferation of the gang MS-13, singling out in the chamber the parents of two teens murdered in 2016 by MS-13 members.

“My highest loyalty, my greatest compassion, my constant concern is for America’s children, America’s struggling workers, and America’s forgotten communities,” he said. “I want our youth to grow up to achieve great things. I want our poor to have their chance to rise … my duty, and the sacred duty of every elected official in this chamber, is to defend Americans.”

Some Democrats on the House floor were visibly unhappy, booing when he called for an end to “chain migration,” which allows immigrants to bring relatives into the country.

Infrastructure

Trump was on less polarizing ground on infrastructure, where he called for “safe, reliable and modern infrastructure our economy needs and our people deserve.” Specifically, he wants Congress to produce a bill that generates at least $1.5 trillion for new investment into roads and bridges. 

Opioid epidemic

Trump also renewed calls to address the opioid epidemic, vowing to “get tougher” on drug dealers and committing to “helping get treatment for those in need.”

North Korea

Trump vowed to get tougher on ISIS and North Korea, singling out the parents of Ohio native Otto Warmbier – who was imprisoned in North Korea and sent home days before his death – as an example of the brutality of North Korea's regime. Watching in the chamber were Fred and Cindy Warmbier, who Trump called “powerful witnesses to a menace that threatens our world.” The White House did not announce the Warmbiers' presence in the chamber until midway through the speech.

>> On DaytonDailyNews.com: Trump honors Ohio man held in North Korea

Tax plan

Trump highlighted tax cuts passed by Congress as a crowning achievement. "There has never been a better time to start living the American dream," he said.

Democratic reaction

After Trump’s speech, Rep. Joe Kennedy III, D-Mass., gave the Democratic response, indirectly calling Trump a bully.

>> Read more trending news 

“Bullies may land a punch,” he said in excerpts released before his speech. “They might leave a mark. But they have never, not once, in the history of our United States, managed to match the strength and spirit of a people united in defense of their future.”

Stormy Daniels appears on 'Jimmy Kimmel Live,' dodges questions about alleged Trump affair

Adult film star Stormy Daniels mostly evaded questions Tuesday from late-night host Jimmy Kimmel about her alleged 2006 affair with President Donald Trump.

>> Watch the full interview here (WARNING: Viewer discretion advised.)

Daniels' appearance on "Jimmy Kimmel Live" came after Trump's first State of the Union speech and hours after her publicist released a statement denying the affair allegations.

>> STATE OF THE UNION: Full transcript | Photos | Dem response

Kimmel pointed out that Daniels' signature on the most recent statement did not appear to match other signed statements and photos. 

"That doesn't look like my signature, does it?" she replied.

"It doesn't look like your signature," Kimmel said. "So you're saying perhaps this letter was written and released without your approval."

>> Read more trending news 

Daniels laughed, adding later that she didn't know where the statement came from.

'Putin list': U.S. releases names of Russian politicians, oligarchs

The U.S. Treasury Department released an unclassified list Monday night of more than 200 Russian oligarchs and political figures seen as allies of the Kremlin and Russian President Vladimir Putin.

>> House Intelligence Committee votes to release controversial Nunes memo

>> Click here or scroll down for more

>> Read more trending news 

California bill suggests fine, jail for giving plastic straws to restaurant patrons unless asked

A California lawmaker’s proposed bill that would greatly affect the food industry is facing heavy criticism.

California State Assembly Majority Leader Ian Calderon, D-Whittier, sought to address pollution by focusing on plastic – specifically, plastic straws, KGTV reported.

>> On Rare.us: Organizers arrested in California for allegedly feeding the homeless

According to Calderon’s bill, a server who offered a plastic straw to a restaurant patron without first being asked would face a $1,000 fine and up to six months in jail.

“We need to create awareness around the issue of one-time use plastic straws and its detrimental effects on our landfills, waterways and oceans,” Calderon argued in a press release. “AB 1884 is not ban on plastic straws. It is a small step towards curbing our reliance on these convenience products, which will hopefully contribute to a change in consumer attitudes and usage.”

>> Read more trending news 

The bill reportedly would apply only to waiters in sit-down restaurants, not bars or fast food establishments. Calderon also expressed his intention to dump the bill’s harsh penalties, according to Reason.

Despite the reasoning, several have criticized the proposed legislation as an example of government overreach.

Some even offered their own suggestions.

Others have accused the bill of being inspired by unreliable data on the number of plastic straws the public uses.

FBI Deputy Director Andrew McCabe stepping down: reports

FBI Deputy Director Andrew McCabe, who spent three months last year as acting director of the agency, stepped down from his position Monday, sources told multiple news outlets.

>> Read more trending news

McCabe, who served as the second-highest official in the FBI, will stay on the FBI payroll until mid-March, when he’s eligible to retire with full benefits, NBC News reported.

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