Memo’s Release Escalates Clash Over Russia Probe; Trump Says It ‘Totally Vindicates’ Him

Release comes after the FBI expressed ‘grave concerns’ over the accuracy of the document

Mr. Trump, who had to sign off on the memo’s release, has been at odds for much of the past year with several Justice Department leaders having to do with the Russia probe. He fired FBI Director James Comey and publicly criticized his own appointees, including Attorney General Jeff Sessions, over his recusal from the Russia matter, and Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein, who now oversees the investigation by special counsel Robert Mueller.

.. A person who has reviewed the surveillance-warrant application said Mr. Steele’s research formed only a part of the application. The other information included in the application hasn’t been declassified, though Mr. Trump has that authority.

.. “This was about telling a political story that’s helpful to the president. It’s about telling a political story that’s designed to injure the work of the special counsel and to discredit it,” said Mr. Schiff.

.. Democrats on the committee have compiled their own memo on the matter, which addresses the information that prosecutors used beyond Mr. Steele’s research, but the GOP-controlled committee has so far blocked its release.
.. Mr. Page has been on the radar of U.S. intelligence since 2013, when Russian spies made an attempt to recruit him. 
.. He left Mr. Trump’s campaign in September 2016 after reports that a July 2016 trip he took to Moscow was of interest to investigators.
.. At least two of those renewals occurred while Mr. Trump was president and at least one was authorized by a Justice Department official he appointed. A person familiar with the matter said that four separate federal judges approved the surveillance of Mr. Page, and all of those judges were appointed by Republican presidents.
.. The memo is critical of Mr. Steele and notes that prosecutors in their application for the warrant didn’t explicitly state that he was working for a firm funded by Democrats. But the FISA application did disclose Mr. Steele was being paid by a law firm working for a major political party ..
.. The bureau considered Mr. Steele a reliable source from previous investigations, having helped provide information during a federal probe into alleged corruption at FIFA, the world soccer organization
.. The memo alleges that Mr. McCabe testified before the House Intelligence Committee in December that “no surveillance warrant would have been sought…without the Steele dossier information.”
.. Officials in Congress and the Justice Department familiar with Mr. McCabe’s testimony said the memo mischaracterized what he told lawmakers. He was asked what percentage of information in the FISA application was provided by Mr. Steele, and he demurred, saying the FBI didn’t evaluate such applications in such a way. Mr. McCabe was asked if it might have accounted for half of the warrant application, and he said he didn’t know, one person familiar with the matter said.
.. Mr. Trump and other Republicans cheered the buildup to the document’s release, fueled by social-media campaigns, saying it would expose law-enforcement wrongdoing in prosecuting the president.
.. One person close to Mr. Trump said this week that the president believes the memo undermines the credibility of Mr. Rosenstein
Asked Friday if he had confidence in Mr. Rosenstein, Mr. Trump said: “You figure that one out.”