Three weeks ago, House Republicans publicly published a much-hyped memo written by representative Devin Nunes of California. It alleged, through a series of allusions, tangential facts, and appearing misdirections, that law enforcement officials had abused their power in getting a surveillance warrant against former Trump campaign advisor Carter Page. In a 10-page memo of the own, House Democrats are trying to set the record straight.
That the picture Nunes had painted is, filled out by the Democratic Party redacted in part. And while it's worth reading in full–particularly for any fans of #x27 & the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court;s inner workings–a few portions stand out as particularly illuminating. It doesn't tell us much regarding the investigation into connections between the Trump campaign and Russia. But it says all you want to learn concerning #x27 & the Nunes Court;s sophistry. Here are the critical points.
The Carter Page Timeline Comes Into Focus
While some particulars are hidden by redactions, the Democratic memo makes clear that the FBI had interest in Carter Page long before he joined #x27 & Donald Trump; s campaign. Russian agents tried to recruit Page at some point. And after that, per the memo: “In 2013, prosecutors indicted three additional Russian spies, two of whom targeted page for recruitment.”
The FBI also apparently interviewed Page regarding his contacts with Russian intelligence agents “multiple times,” such as in March 2016, the month Page combined the Trump campaign. In fact, the FISA application comprises advice about Page's activity prior to joining the Trump campaign. All the previous interest and activity helps dispel the notion that the attention on Page amounted to a “witch hunt” targeting Trump; it had been surveillance into a person with business ties to Russia whom the country had also spent decades seeking to recruit.
Steele's Dossier Wasn't a Deciding Factor
Republicans claimed from the Nunes memo that the FBI sought from intelligence agent Christopher Steele in large part due to data to surveil Trump campaign foreign policy adviser Carter Page. “The ‘dossier’,” according to the Nunes memo, “formed an important part of the Carter Page FISA application. Steele was a FBI source. ”
The Schiff Court controverts this interpretation. “rsquo & Christopher Steele;s intelligence reporting did not notify the FBI’s rdquo; Democrats write, & choice to initiate its counterintelligence investigation in late July 2016. “In fact, the FBI’s closely-held investigation team only received rsquo & Steele;s reporting in mid-September. ” The memo also emphasizes the Steele dossier was extensively vetted and contained information the FBI had already acquired during its investigation or it afterwards corroborated. And against #x27 & the Nunes Court;s claims, the Schiff memo notes that the FBI never really paid Steele for its dossier.
The Court Knew Who Paid For Steele's Research
The Nunes memo asserted the law enforcement officials introducing to the FISA court did not provide context that Steele’s study along with the dossier he produced were funded by the Democratic National Committee and the Clinton effort. “Neither the initial application in October 2016, nor some of those renewals, disclose or mention the role of the DNC, Clinton effort, or any party/campaign in financing Steele’s attempts, though the political roots of the Steele dossier were subsequently referred to senior DOJ and FBI officials,” the memo said. This could have meant that US law enforcement officials that were crucial misrepresented context that was critical and details .
& #x27; This memo repudiates an integral allegation that was created DOJ and the FBI were untruthful into the FISC. '
Former FISA Lawyer Carrie Cordero
The Schiff memo contradicts these assertions, though: “Far from lsquo;omitting’ material details about Steele, as the Majority maintains, DOJ repeatedly informed that the Court about Steele’s heritage, credibility, and potential bias.” In fact, the FISA warrant application even stated that ldquo & Steele;was probably searching . DOJ let the FISA court understand it informed them for talking to the media if Steele as a source fell — and reliable Steele however.
Though the Nunes Court's original assertion had always been in doubt, due to the pure impropriety and partisan manipulation it might have reflected, analysts had been relieved to see that the Democratic rebuttal.
“This memo repudiates an integral allegation that was made from the Nunes Court: the FBI and DOJ were untruthful into the FISC,” states Carrie Cordero, an adjunct professor at Georgetown Law School who has worked directly on FISA procedure problems. “as a FISA practitioner, I & #x27; m glad to see it debunked, as well That allegation went into the heart of the ethics of the FISA process. ”
Neither Memo Exonerates Trump
When Republicans published the Nunes memo, President Donald Trump argued that it exposed debatable political bias within the FBI and the larger intelligence community. And Republicans claimed that the Page warrant was used by the FBI as a backdoor.
This bias, Trump concluded, taints the larger continuing Russia investigation and invalidates accusations of misconduct. “This memo totally vindicates ‘Trump’ in probe. But the Russian Witch Hunt goes on and on. Their was not any Collusion,” Trump tweeted following the Nunes memo was published.
It says all you want to learn concerning #x27 & the Nunes Court;s sophistry.
Democrats contradict each one the Nunes Court’s assertions that could indicate bias within the FBI. And the memo challenges the idea that the Trump effort was subject to an indiscriminate dragnet. Page was, after all, on the FBI's radar prior to his Trump effort dealings. And the surveillance itself took place after he abandoned the effort. If anything the two memos show Trump must do with some of it.
“FISA wasn’t used to spy on his effort or Trump, & rdquo; Schiff writes. “Page finished his affiliation with the effort months before DOJ As Page and the Trump effort have acknowledged. DOJ’s warrant request was based on probable cause and compelling evidence. ”
However, Trump railed against the Democratic Court on Twitter Saturday day, claiming that it “affirms all the terrible things that were done. SO ILLEGAL!” Trump also complained that the “FBI did not disclose who the clients were the Clinton Campaign and the DNC. Wow!” This manages to miss a few points at once. Partisan financing, which the FISA warrant application did in fact disclose, although the Nunes Court wasn & #x27’s complaint; t specificity. It's too interested to see Trump suddenly asserting that US people and associations should be appointed from the FISA process, given that the level to which he has decried the “unmasking” procedure through which occurs. At length, at least as of press time, ” Trump tweeted “Russians had no compromising advice on Donald Trump,” apparently citing a Fox News headline, even though it's unclear how anyone could conclude that by the Nunes or Democratic Court.
Peter Strzok and Lisa Page Were a Red Herring
In the weeks prior to the Nunes Court’s release, FBI agents Peter Strzok and Lisa Page were under intense political and media scrutiny to get a text message exchange, dating as far back as January 2016, that included disparaging comments about Donald Trump. In a clear effort the Nunes memo invokes Page and Strzok in its closing segment:
“The Page FISA application additionally mentions information about fellow Trump campaign advisor George Papadopoulos, however there’s no evidence of any cooperation or conspiracy involving Page and Papadopoulos. The Papadopoulos information triggered the opening of an FBI counterintelligence investigation in late July 2016. Strzok was reassigned from the Special Counsel’s Office to FBI Human Resources for improper text messages with his mistress, FBI Attorney Lisa Page (no known connection to Carter Page), where they both demonstrated a clear bias against Trump and in favor of Clinton, whom Strzok had also investigated. ”
Putting aside issues of propriety around the text messages, the Democratic memo makes clear that in fact, Strzok and Page did not serve as affiants from the Page warrant software. The mention proves to be meaningless. Citing “no signs of cooperation or war involving Page and Papadopoulos” as some sort of malfeasance can also be a sleight of hands; the FISA application made no effort to draw that connection, but rather used the Papadopoulos case to provide broader context about Russia’s attempts at interfering in the election. As a potentially beneficial reminder: Last autumn, Papadopoulos pleaded guilty to making false statements to the FBI regarding his contact with Russians who’d offered “grime” on Hillary Clinton.
Leggo My Memo