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Timeline: Here's how the Nunes memo came to be released

by Mike Memoli /  / Updated 
Image: House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence Chairman Devin Nunes
House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence Chairman Devin Nunes, R-Calif., speaks to the media on March 7 about President Donald Trump's allegation that his campaign was the target of wiretaps.Aaron P. Bernstein / Reuters

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WASHINGTON — On Friday, the House Intelligence Committee made public a memo, prepared by its chairman, Rep. Devin Nunes, R-Calif., that raised questions about the FBI's investigation into President Donald Trump's campaign aides for suspected ties to Russia.

The controversial memo was released over the objections of Democrats on the committee, the FBI and some congressional Republicans and has been the source of a bitter partisan fight in recent weeks. Here is a timeline of the key developments leading up to Friday's release of the Nunes memo:

Jan. 3, 2015: Nunes begins his tenure as chairman of the House Intelligence Committee.

Oct. 29, 2015: Paul Ryan is elected House speaker, replacing John Boehner.

Oct. 21, 2016: According to the memo, the Justice Department and the FBI sought and received a probable cause order authorizing electronic surveillance on Trump campaign aide Carter Page.

Nov. 29, 2016: Nunes is named as a member of the executive committee for President-elect Trump’s transition team.

Feb. 16, 2017: After the resignation of National Security Adviser Michael Flynn, Nunes tells The Wall Street Journal that intelligence officials have been unable to provide evidence of contacts between Russian officials and Trump campaign staff. “If a Russian intel officer was talking to any American, even if they were loosely associated with any campaign, I’d be very interested in that.”

March 1, 2017: Nunes and Rep. Adam Schiff, D-Calif., the ranking member of the intelligence committee, announce that the committee has established parameters for a formal inquiry into Russia's involvement in the 2016 campaign.

March 4, 2017: Trump tweets: “Terrible! Just found out that Obama had my 'wires tapped' in Trump Tower just before the victory. Nothing found. This is McCarthyism!”

March 5, 2017: Nunes issues a statement saying that the committee “will make inquiries into whether the [U.S.] government was conducting surveillance activities on any political party’s campaign officials or surrogates.”

March 17, 2017: Nunes says in a statement that the committee hasn’t received information it requested from the CIA or the FBI to “determine whether information collected on U.S. persons was mishandled and leaked.” But, he adds, the NSA “partially met our request and has committed to fully meet our request by the end of next week.”

March 22, 2017: Nunes announces that he has seen reports from the U.S. intelligence community showing communication from members of the transition team — and possibly from the president himself — were "incidentally collected" as part of a broader surveillance effort. He travels to the White House to meet with the president. Trump tells reporters that he “somewhat” feels vindicated by Nunes. “I very much appreciated the fact that they found what they found, I somewhat do."

Schiff says: “The chairman will either need to decide if he's leading an investigation into conduct which includes allegations of potential coordination between the Trump campaign and the Russians, or he is going to act as a surrogate of the White House. Because he cannot do both.”

March 27, 2017: The White House confirms that Nunes visited the White House on March 21, the day before his announcement about “incidental” collection of transition team communications. Ryan tells reporters the source of the information Nunes announced was a “whistleblower.”

March 30, 2017: The New York Times reports that “a pair of White House officials helped provide” Nunes with intelligence reports showing Trump and his associates were included in incidental collection of surveillance.

April 6, 2017: The House Ethics Committee announces a probe into whether Nunes “may have made unauthorized disclosures of classified information, in violation of House Rules, law, regulations, or other standards of conduct.” Nunes blames the probe on “several left-wing activist groups,” and calls the charges “entirely false and politically motivated.” Still, he says that Rep. Mike Conaway, R-Texas, with assistance from Reps. Trey Gowdy, R-S.C., and Tom Rooney, R-Fla., will “temporarily take charge of the committee’s Russia investigation.”

Ryan issues a statement: “Devin Nunes has earned my trust over many years for his integrity and dedication to the critical work that the intelligence community does to keep America safe. He continues to have that trust.” Ryan says he “fully supports” his decision to temporarily step aside.

May 17, 2017: Nunes issues a statement on the appointment of Robert Mueller as special counsel. “I strongly support this decision, and I commend Deputy U.S. Attorney General Rosenstein for his leadership.”

Aug. 24, 2017: Nunes issues subpoenas to DOJ and FBI seeking Form FD-1023 interview summaries of meetings between FBI confidential human sources and FBI officials related to the Steele dossier, and additional FD-302s and other analytical and reference documents.

Oct. 24, 2017: Nunes announces that the Intelligence Committee and Judiciary Committee will jointly investigate Uranium One, an Obama-era uranium deal that critics have linked to Bill and Hillary Clinton.

Nov. 2, 2017: The Intelligence Committee interviews Carter Page; transcript is released Nov. 6.

Nov. 8/Nov. 14, 2017: The Intelligence Committee interviews Glenn Simpson; transcript is released Jan. 18.

Dec. 7, 2017: The Ethics Committee issues a statement saying that an analysis of Nunes’ public statements “by classification experts in the intelligence community” concluded that information he disclosed was not classified. “The Committee will take no further action and considers this matter closed.”

Nunes repeats that the charges were “frivolous” and says he was “dismayed that it took an unbelievable eight months” to resolve. He asks the Ethics Committee to release all transcripts related to his case.

Dec. 19, 2017: Then-Deputy FBI Director Andrew McCabe testifies before the House Intelligence Committee. No transcript is released.

Dec. 28, 2017: Nunes writes a letter to Rosenstein blasting DOJ and the FBI for its “failure to fully provide responsive documents and provide the requested witnesses” in response to the August subpoena. He also seeks interviews with six FBI officials, and details “concerning an apparent April 2017 meeting with the media involving DOJ/FBI personnel, including DOJ Attorney Andrew Weissman. The “delays and discrepancies” and the “intransigence” of the agencies “can no longer be tolerated. … At this point it seems the DOJ and FBI need to be investigating themselves.” He sets a Jan. 3 deadline

Jan. 3: Rosenstein and FBI Director Christopher Wray meet with Ryan about Nunes’ request. Nunes later releases a statement saying that he spoke with Rosenstein, and believed that the committee reached an agreement to provide “access to all the documents and witnesses we have requested.” Nunes spokesman says the conversation with Rosenstein was by phone.

Jan. 11: The House of Representatives passes reauthorization of the FISA program. Nunes says in a statement that the legislation “provides new, rigorous measures to protect Americans’ privacy and to ensure the program is used properly to target foreign terrorists, weapons proliferators, and other threats to Americans’ safety and security.”

Jan. 16: The FBI provides congressional committees including Intelligence with 384 pages of new text messages involving FBI lawyer Lisa Page and agent Peter Strzok.

Jan. 29: The House Intelligence Committee votes to send the Nunes memo to the White House. It rejects motions to release a second memo written by Democrats at the same time.

Jan. 30: Ryan says, “There's a very legitimate issue here as to whether or not an American's civil liberties were violated in the FISA process.” He says he sees “no reason” why Rosenstein should be fired but adds: “I think the people at the FBI, at the DOJ need to cleanse their own house if there are problems in their own house.”

Schiff invites House members to review a second classified memo written by his staff.

Feb. 2: After Trump declassifies the memo, the House Intelligence Committee releases it to the public.

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