Former U.S. attorney troubled by both release of memo and its contents

A memo released Friday alleges abuse of surveillance powers by officials at the FBI and the Dept. of Justice. (KATU file image)

(KUTV) - Former U.S. Attorney for Utah Brett Tolman is troubled by the release of a memo by Republicans on the House Intelligence Committee Friday, but also by the allegations contained in it.

“I think it sets a bad precedent,” said Tolman, who worked as a lawyer for Republicans in Congress but who sees future peril with the GOP making the classified memo, which alleges that the FBI misused its surveillance powers, public. “One side is going to see a document and really clamor to get it released.”

Tolman said he worked with ousted FBI Director James Comey, and Robert Mueller, the special counsel investigating Russian interference in the 2016 election. Among other things, Tolman advised a congressional committee over the Patriot Act, the surveillance law passed by Congress in the wake of the 9-11 attacks.

The memo, released on Friday, said a former British spy was paid $160,000 by the Democratic National Committee and the Hillary Clinton campaign for opposition research on Trump, now commonly referred to as the “Steele Dossier,” which Comey said under oath was “salacious and unverified.”

But that research was used, according to the GOP memo, for a warrant from the secret federal FISA court that led to surveillance of former Trump campaign aide Carter Page. Democrats and the FBI have disputed the memo's accuracy.

“It’s dirty,” said Tolman. “It seems dirty at least when you look at that, and you analyze it.”

He said it’s possible, as one leading Democratic congressman alleges, that some important information was excluded from the memo, but he said it would not take away from a central theme.

“They’re now making a connection from the DNC to the purchase of the dossier, and the dossier was important and needed in order to secure the warrant,” he said.

Tolman still expressed confidence in the overall probe by Mueller, who had not been appointed yet when the alleged misconduct occurred.

“The man himself that I worked with is not a man whose ethics are easily compromised, if ever.”

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