Memo: Chicagoan Papadopoulos sparked FBI Russia investigation

CHICAGO (WLS) -- The great battle over a secret GOP memo ended Friday when it was made public.

Less than four-pages, authored by Republican staff of the House Intelligence Committee, it lays out a trail of investigative bread crumbs leading up to the FBI's Russia collusion probe.

One stop on the trail is Chicago, where the memo states that foreign policy consultant and North Side resident George Papadopoulos "triggered the opening of an FBI counterintelligence investigation" to determine whether Trump campaign officials had improper contacts with Russia.

The top secret memo, prepped by House Intelligence Committee Chairman Devin Nunez last month, was declassified on Friday by President Trump after a tumultuous clash of party and bureaucratic titans as to whether it should be released.

The memo provides details of how the FBI began its formal Russia investigation into the Trump campaign in July 2016.

Some Republicans had argued that the investigation started because of a now-notorious dossier, which had salacious and unverified claims connecting Trump to Russia and was compiled by a former British spy Christopher Steele . The memo shows that federal authorities acted broadly on information provided by Papadopoulos, 30, a graduate of Niles West High School and DePaul University.

"The Papadopoulos information triggered the opening of an FBI counterintelligence investigation in late July 2016 by FBI agent Peter Strzok," the memo states.

The memo does confirm that Steele's dossier was used at least in part to justify a decision to seek a Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) warrant against Trump aide Carter Page. The revelation that agent Strzok, who sent text messages trashing Trump, launched the original investigation into the campaign will further fuel arguments concerning alleged political bias at the FBI.

Spy man Steele had been retained commissioned by political research firm Fusion GPS, which was hired by the Democratic National Committee and Hillary Clinton's campaign.

Democrats in the House were quick to castigate the release of the memo.

"Chairman Nunes' decision, supported by House Speaker Ryan and Republican Members of the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence, to publicly release misleading allegations against the Department of Justice and Federal Bureau of Investigation is a shameful effort to discredit these institutions, undermine the Special Counsel's ongoing investigation, and undercut congressional probes," party leaders said in a statement.

"It was declassified, and let's see what happens" said President Trump on Friday, after acting against the recommendation of his own FBI director.

"A lot of people should be ashamed," the president said, referring to the conduct described in the memo.

Former FBI director James Comey was less than thrilled by the memo. Comey tweeted: "That's it? Dishonest and misleading memo wrecked the House intel committee, destroyed trust with Intelligence Community, damaged relationship with FISA court, and inexcusably exposed classified investigation of an American citizen. For what? DOJ & FBI must keep doing their jobs."

Papadopoulos pleaded guilty last October to charges brought against him by special counsel Robert Mueller in his Russia investigation. He admitted lying to federal agents about his Russian contacts and is cooperating with federal prosecutors. Papadopoulos has not made any public statements since the case surfaced last fall, although his fiance has said he is a "patriot," not a low-ranking coffee boy as Trump operatives have claimed.
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