The #NunesMemo

I had said previously that it wouldn’t amount to that much:

Now it has been released, and yes, it is a disappointment.

I have read the widely anticipated Nunes memo, and am quite frankly unimpressed. Yes, it was wrong to issue the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) surveillance against former Trump aide Carter Page, and yes, certain high-ranking officials in the Obama Administration were at the very least careless in approving the requests.

What is lacking is any direct connection with orders from President Obama, or his Attorney General, or any specific instructions from the Clinton campaign to use the so-called Steele Dossier as the basis for the FISA application. There is no indication that the Clinton campaign knew how poorly sources the Steele Dossier was, nor that they had people who should have known. The most serious thing that the Nunes Memo alleges is that Associate Deputy Attorney General Bruce Ohr maintained contact with Christopher Steele after Mr Steele was fired, and that the Department of Justice was sloppy in its paperwork for the FISA application. There is no allegation that “information potentially favorable to the target of the FISA application” was deliberately withheld from Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court (FISC).

We are expected to infer that hostile intent was present in the incomplete FISA application. Carelessness is not evidence of hostile and conspiratorial intent, though those could exist. The only person to whom the memo specifies hostile intent is Christopher Steele, and he was not among those who had authority with regard to the FISA application. This may not be a nothingburger, but it has but one all beef patty, with no special sauce, no lettuce, no cheese, no pickles, no onions and no sesame seed bun.

Why were the Department of Justice and Federal Bureau of Investigation so upset with the release of the memo? It’s simple: the Nunes memo names names. The issuance of a FISA requires the government to provide “information potentially favorable to the target of proposed FISA investigation,” and failed to do so in several instances, as the FISA authorization had to be renewed several times. Those top officials signing for the FBI and DoJ included:

  • FBI Director James Comey
  • FBI Deputy Director Andrew McCabe
  • Deputy Attorney General Sally Yates
  • Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein
  • Acting Deputy Attorney General Dana Boente

We were told that publication of the memo would endanger national security. Really? Just what intelligence methods were compromised by the release? Certainly none that I could see. The only things which could have been compromised was the reputation of the officials named in it, because, at best, they didn’t do their jobs.

At worst, it was a criminal conspiracy, but the memo does not provide any evidence of that. The closest to a criminal conspiracy that I saw in the memo was this:

During this same time period, Ohr’s wife was employed by Fusion GPS to assist in the cultivation of opposition research on Trump. Ohr later provided the FBI with all of his wife’s opposition research, paid for by the DNC and Clinton campaign via Fusion GPS. The Ohrs’ relationship with Steele and Fusion GPS was inexplicably concealed from the FISC. [Section 3 (a)]

We are not told whether Mr Ohr failed to disclose that to his superiors, or whether his superiors knew it and failed to include that in the FISA applications.

The entire problem was the Steele Dossier. It was produced by Mr Steele, as campaign opponent research for the Hillary Clinton campaign. Were it not for the dossier, many claim that there’d be no Mueller investigation of the Trump campaign and possible collusion with Russia.

Mr Comey responded:

Given that Mr Comey thrice signed FISA certifications to the FISC, when those certifications failed to include the facts that the Steel Dossier was unsubstantiated opposition research by Fusion GPS, paid for by the Clinton campaign, through the law firm Perkins Coie, I’d say that Mr Comey should just keep his mouth shut.

In the end, the Obama Administration spied on a former Trump aide, based at least in part on opposition research generated and paid for by the Clinton campaign. The problem with stretching that to criminality turns on the question of whether any or all of the named officials failed to do their duty through deliberate malice or just plain negligence. We may assume — and I certainly do — that all of the officials named were supporters of the Clinton campaign (though Mrs Clinton still blames Director Comey for her loss to Mr Trump) but that does not mean that we can also assume that they deliberately broke the law mala fides.

It is amusing, however, that their only defense to criminal intent would be individual incompetence. :)

Mr Comey said that release of the memo “damaged relationship with FISA court,” by which I assume he means that it damaged the relationship of the intelligence community with FISC. Really? If that relationship has been damaged, it is because the Court has been informed that the FBI and DoJ have been at the very least negligent in their duties in making FISA applications. Hopefully it will mean that the FISC will ask questions of the government when it makes FISA applications.

The nature of covert surveillance is such that surveillance targets do not get an opportunity in court to challenge the FISA warrants; if they did, the surveillance would not be secret. Thus the government has the obligation to present potentially exculpatory evidence in favor of the proposed target, and this the government did not do in the FISA applications against Carter Page. Given that it was Mr Comey who signed three of the FISA applications against Mr Page, it was he, and not Devin Nunes who damaged that relationship.

President Trump needs to clean house, at the Department of Justice and the Federal Bureau of Investigation.

15 Comments

  1. But what the Memo confirms is the use of a phony document commissioned by Clinton, bought then by the FBI and then sold to the FISA Court as a Bona-Fide research of the FBI and DOJ. It was not anything other than opposition research by Clinton and the DNC which was NOT TOLD to the FISA Court. Trump was spied on by this, Obama used this to Sanction Russia for spying. Think from all those named as players in this deception who banked on Hillary winning so this would not see the light of day. This memo shows shows a giant abuse of power from Obama on down built on a Lie. I bet the whole Mueller investigation was tripped by Comey and company to keep this Dossier and abuse of the FISA Court from coming out, and pointing to Trump. It appears to be the Drama from Gene Hackman’s Enemy of the State movie and makes Nixon look like a piker. It appears all that transpired is the Fruit Of The Poisonous Tree.

    • I’m having trouble getting my hands around the utter stupidity of all of this. Hillary Rodham worked as a staffer for the House Judiciary Committee when it was investigating President Nixon, and passed several articles of Impeachment. (Miss Rodham failed the bar exam for the District of Columbia three days before the articles of impeachment were voted.) If anyone knew that the notion of using illegal tactics against an opponent a candidate was guaranteed to defeat :) was a bad idea, it should have been Mrs Clinton. Her senior staff all knew that she had worked for that committee, and knew about the false internet claim that she was fired by Chief Counsel Jerry Zeifman for unethical conduct. They, too, should have been very leery of passing off the poorly sourced Steele Dossier as evidence to the FBI. It has been suggested that, with Mrs Clinton guaranteed to win the election, no one was worried about an investigation, but it has to be remembered that President Nixon’s re-election was also guaranteed, but a Congress controlled by the opposition party still managed to dig up enough evidence to unseat him. Even if Mrs Clinton had won in 2016, [shudder!] she would have been facing a Congress controlled by Republicans.

      Why were they stupid enough to do this?

        • Just think: The Smartest Woman in the World® still managed to lose two presidential campaigns, one to a first term senator of no significant accomplishments, and one to the biggest blowhard in the western hemisphere. :) She had insiders rig the Democratic primaries, and still just barely beat a 73 year old guy who looked like he was straight out of the loony bin, and managed to lose to another man despite the United States government cheating and trying to rig the general election for her.

          I’m starting to believe that President Obama, a very astute politician (whatever else we may think about him) recognized just what a poor candidate she was in 2008, and realized that she was going to lose in 2016 in any sort of fair election. He helped as much as he could, but it still wasn’t enough.

          Bill Clinton is another amazingly astute politician; I find it difficult to believe that he couldn’t see just what a poor politician his wife was.

          • The DNC assured her of Primary Wins. The MSM sang her praises at every moment. History told her she had to be the First Woman President right after the first worst Black President. All the Polls said she would win running away. Comey and Lynch were assured of being held close by and protected of keeping their Positions. She was assured Trump had No Chance of winning by the MSM keeping the negative press. She had the slush fund of the Clinton Foundation. Peter Strozck and Lisa Page worked diligently to derail Trump. California was insurance by their fraudulent voting system. The only thing the Smartest Woman had not counted on was being the most despised person in the country because all her Court Jesters told her she was loved by all. (Except all the Deplorables who outnumbered her supporters where it counted.)

      • Why were they stupid enough to do this?

        Stupid isn’t the issue, but rather arrogance (and, as York said, a certain degree of evil). A classic example of this was Napoleon, hardly a stupid man, indeed, brilliant in many ways. But pure hubris must have convinced him that invading Russia was a good idea, never mind the country must have been dozens of times the size of France and with winter weather conditions that French troops were completely unprepared to deal with. Arrogant people, like Napoleon, may have many successes, but which leads them after a while to think that failure will simply never happen to them.

  2. I’m either barking at the recent Full Blue/Blood Moon, or on to something?? Or, all of the above?? Was all this the tip of the iceberg that the Obola/Clintoon Cabal to overthrow the Gummint?? I look back at the rigged Primary Elections for Hillarity, the rigged Faux Email Investigation of Hillarity/Hoooma/Weener, the DNC Cabal to coronate Hillarity, the Phony Dossier, the spying on Trump through a phony warrant by the FISA Court, Obola’s Russian Collusion Hoax, the Russian Sanctions and countless other things. However, the whole group failed to sway the American Voters. The whole above was planned pre and post election.

  3. The biggest problem with the Nunes memo is that there is no proof of criminal intent. Other than Bruce Ohr, there was no one with certain, current knowledge about how biased Christopher Steele was, and it was Mr Ohr’s wife, Nellie, who provided the opposition research in the Steele dossier to her husband. It is possible that the FBI and DoJ officials who signed the FISA warrant applications were unaware of some of the sources, and that this was opposition research paid for by the Clinton campaign, but that simply means that the Democrats’ defense to illegal official behavior was negligence and incompetence.

  4. In research for a previous comment, I found an article from New York Magazine in which the author, Rebecca Traister, wrote:

    many of her critics — even those who voted for her — are determined that Clinton bear the mantle of worst politician who ever lived, their evidence being that she lost to … the worst politician who ever lived.

    and

    The unusually prolonged pummeling is partly because Clinton’s Election Day loss was not just hers but the nation’s

    and

    A competent woman losing a job to an incompetent man is not an anomalous Election Day surprise; it is Tuesday in America.

    and

    “The fact that that woman lost to the least qualified human being on the planet really kind of drove it home.” (Jess McIntosh, a Democratic strategist who was the director of communications outreach for the Clinton campaign.)

    The “least qualified human being on the planet?” As in less qualified than Jerry Sandusky or Larry Nassar or a Chicago gang-banger? The “worst politician who ever lived?” A man who not only defeated President Obama’s heiress presumptive but sixteen other Republican primary candidates?

    That Rebecca Traister is a Clinton partisan is completely understandable in a New York Magazine writer, but her article is so full of ridiculous exaggeration and bile that it’s surprising that any responsible editor would have printed it the way it was written. Trump Derangement Syndrome is alive and well.

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