Earlier today Donald Trump released the controversial memo penned by House Intelligence Committee chair Devon Nunes and his staff with, possibly the assistance of the White House. It has turned out to be a huge nothing burger. It focused primarily on the FISA warrant that authorized the surveillance of former Trump foreign policy advisor Carter Page claiming that it came from the unverified Trump-Russian dossier. The memo makes a lot of claims about the legality of the warrant and the breakdown of the normal legal process without any evidence.
The Republicans and Trumpsters have bought into the lie that it was the dossier that triggered the investigation into the Trump campaign conspiring with the Russians to interfere with the 2016 election. It is not until the last sentence that the entire premise of the memo is blown out of the water.
“The Papadopoulos information triggered the opening of an FBI counterintelligence investigation in late July 2016 by FBI agent Pete Strzok,”
There are accusations that have even more serious holes. The dossier was compiled by former British MI-6 spy who was hired by Fusion GPS. There is no evidence that Steele knew who was financing the dossier. Steele was paid directly by Fusion-GPS. At the time the warrant was issued in October 2016, Fusion-GPS had not revealed the financial backing for the research. From the fact checking done by Newsweek
Claim: The FBI should have told a judge about information “favorable” to Page when requesting a warrant, such as the Democratic National Committee’s connection to the funding for the Steele Dossier. [..]
There is no legal obligation for the FBI to provide evidence that could argue against their own warrant request. Instead several layers of Justice Department officials have to approve the request based on corroborated claims.
However the Steele Dossier was funded, it wouldn’t matter because any assertions from the dossier used in the warrant request would have to have been backed up elsewhere, according to Justice Department rules.
Claim: Steele was suspended as an informant to the FBI for leaking to the press
The memo’s claims could be true, that Steele was in fact rejected as an informant, but at least one person directly involved with his relationship with the FBI said that it was actually Steele who cut off ties.
Claim: Steele was the source behind the September 23, 2016 Yahoo story that talked about Page’s trip to Moscow, a critical part of the evidence used for a warrant against Page.
We don’t know how critical the Yahoo article was to the warrant request, since the request itself is classified and, unlike the partisan memo, has not been released. Regardless of what was in the Yahoo article Justice Department policy would have required that officials verify the claims before including the information in a FISA warrant request.
Claim: Steele was paid $160,000 by the DNC for the dossier.
Steele wasn’t hired by any political organization, and Simpson testified that the source of funding for the investigation wasn’t a part of his discussion with Steele. But it is true that at least some of the money that Fusion GPS got for its investigation came from the DNC, which would have been passed along to Steele. The implication from the claim in the memo is that Steele was a DNC patsy because he was being paid by them, but that implication is never proven.
Claim: Bias from FBI agent Peter Strzok shaped the warrant application against Page.
The investigation into Page was reportedly started because of comments Papadopoulos made in a London bar. Plus, evidence presented in the application for the Page warrant would have been otherwise validated by several layers of Justice Department officials—meaning that Strzok’s alleged bias would have had to have infected several other people.
Strzok’s criticisms of Trump also do not prove that he would be incapable of running an investigation, and given the other information required to obtain a warrant, would not be the deciding factor in whether Page was surveilled.
In addition, the full body of text exchanges between Strzok and his lover Page reveal that most communications were just idle office chatter, the Wall Street Journal reported.
“Texts critical of Mr. Trump represent a fraction of the roughly 7,000 messages, which stretch across 384 pages and show no evidence of a conspiracy against Mr. Trump,” the newspaper reported.
The other problem with the memo is that for all the whining and winging over Hillary Clinton’s use of a private server and alleged mishandling of classified information, the Trump and Republicans just outed two private citizens from a highly classified warrant nd may have compromised a highly sensitve investigation into Russian tampering our elections
This is not evidence. It is just an opinion that is highly partisan and full of nothing we already didn’t know. We still donn’t know if the dossier was the sole component for the FISA warrant. We don’t have the underlying FISA warrant on which this memo is based.
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.
— James Comey (@Comey) February 2, 2018
This will not stop the investigations into Russian tampering and the Trump campaign’s role. Trump will find that he can’t end this by firing people dedicated to the truth and the law. Thisis just another attempt by Trump and his minions to obstruct justoce.