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Timeline Leading Up To Release Of The Nunes Memo


We're going to start the program today with the latest news about that memo you've surely heard about released yesterday by the Republican members of the House Intelligence Committee. Those members, as well as President Trump and his supporters, are saying that the memo represents evidence of bias on the part of the FBI leadership and others investigating the president. Meanwhile, Democrats and other observers, including a number of former law enforcement and intelligence officials, say the memo is just a misleading partisan document intended to undermine the investigation into Russian meddling in the 2016 election and the allegations that the Trump campaign was involved with those efforts.

In a moment, we'll hear various perspectives on what's in the memo and what it all means. But first, we're going to take a few minutes to remember the many twists and turns that got us here. We'll let Philip Bump, national correspondent with The Washington Post, take it from here.

PHILIP BUMP: The memo was written to essentially make the case that the application for a warrant to track a man named Carter Page was politically motivated and based on incomplete or inaccurate information.

MARTIN: Carter Page, a former Trump campaign adviser who was on the FBI's radar long before he joined the Trump campaign.

BUMP: In 2013, Page actually first came to the attention of the FBI when a recording of a Russian national included mentions of Page as someone who might be susceptible to targeting by Russian intelligence agencies.

MARTIN: Then in 2016, then-candidate Trump announced that Page would be joining his campaign.

BUMP: After Page was identified as a member of Trump's team, he in July of 2016 traveled to Moscow to give a lecture. And while he was there, he eventually admitted that he met with a deputy prime minister of Russia.

MARTIN: There are a number of questions about what actually happened during that meeting.

BUMP: He says in testimony before Congress that the conversation he had with the deputy prime minister was cursory, a handshake. But he, after that meeting, sent a memo to the Trump campaign team suggesting that he and the deputy prime minister had a more extensive meeting and that the deputy prime minister had expressed support for President Trump's campaign.

MARTIN: As this is happening, a group called Fusion GPS hires a former British intelligence officer named Christopher Steele to do background research on Donald Trump.

BUMP: Fusion GPS had been hired to do that by a law firm that was working for the Democratic National Committee and the Hillary Clinton campaign. As part of Steele's research, he spoke with contacts in Russia who suggested that, in that July trip to Moscow, Carter Page had met with a senior executive from an oil and gas company called Rosneft and potentially also someone connected to the Kremlin.

MARTIN: Steele then wrote a number of reports which became part of a dossier of information, which brings us to now because this Nunes memo alleges that the FBI and Justice Department used unverified material in the Steele dossier to ask the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act, or FISA court, to authorize surveillance of Carter Page.

BUMP: It's not clear at this point the full scope of what was included in that FISA warrant application, and so it's hard to say how much of that application was dependent on the information that had been provided by Steele.

MARTIN: And that brings us to where we are now.

BUMP: Nunes' memo, whether intended or not, has been seized upon by allies and defenders of President Trump as a way to discredit the Mueller investigation. Moving forward, one of the things that will be interesting to see is the extent to which attempts to undercut the investigation led by special counsel Robert Mueller continue and what new form they take. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.