Saturday, February 3, 2018

Winners and losers in the Nunes memo fiasco

Revised Feb. 4 2018

A version of this was published in the Sky Hi News February 5-6 -7, 2018

There  are several takes on winners and losers in the "Nunes memo “ fiasco. The  ‘memo” was put forth by  Rep. Devin Nunes , chair of the House Intelligence Committee, after cutting out or  squelching  objections by the US intelligence community, the Department of Justice, and the committee Democrat members. If the memo was a bombshell as the right wing claims, the shrapnel hit the wrong target, American national security  interests and  the credibility of the GOP House Intelligence Committee and its chair.

 The only winner was Putin per a press release from U.S. Senator John McCain (R-AZ), Chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee who commented that the Russians succeeded in a goal  of “fueling political discord and dividing us from one another.” He continued: “The latest attacks on the FBI and Department of Justice serve no American interests – no party’s, no president’s, only Putin’s. The American people deserve to know all of the facts surrounding Russia’s ongoing efforts to subvert our democracy, which is why Special Counsel Mueller’s investigation must proceed unimpeded. Our nation’s elected officials, including the president, must stop looking at this investigation through the warped lens of politics and manufacturing partisan sideshows. If we continue to undermine our own rule of law, we are doing Putin’s job for him.”

For a right wing take, go to a print version from  or listen to Fox News. For example, the Washington Times claims the winners were the American people who know now how the FISA courts work and how the FBI works with them.. By Nunes outing information based on  classified documents,  not only does the American public know a bit more about FISA warrants , so do Russian intelligence services, who were running bots promoting the release of the memo.

Who were other  losers?   Lost is the entire credibility of the GOP led House Intelligence Committee due to  their partisanship and refusal to let the minority party rebut before the "memo" was released.  Forget the committee's marching orders to come up with ways to prevent foreign powers to interfere in our elections or even to provide bi-partisan oversight of the intelligence community. They have destroyed their non-partisan credibility to carry out such functions.

Trump media,.the White House and the GOP were piously claiming this has nothing to do with the Special Counsel Muller’s investigation while celebrating it hurt the FBI. Don't kid yourself. This was all about impeachment. Donald Trump saw it. He was quick to tweet the memo vindicated him. The effect of the memo was to paint Deputy Attorney Rod Rosenstein as corrupt and incompetent as a pretext to fire him..  A new deputy AG loyal to Trump or caving into White House demands could  put pressure on Special Counsel Robert Mueller to resign and/or  hamstring  the investigation.

Another loser was Nunes. He was exposed as an intellectually dishonest partisan by making  his  whole memo case resting  on  the controversial  Steele dossier   as the only element  presented by the FBI as a reason of renewing a FISA warrant for surveillance of Carter Page. The Department of Justice warned him the memo omitted information in the filing. Nunes left out other evidence presented to the FISA court and the Department of Justice pointed that out when they objected to the memo's release. One premise advanced by Nunes was that the FBI failed to tell the FISA court the dossier was funded by political partisans. At least three major media investigative reporters tapping various source confirms that the filings did cite a partisan origin,of the Steele dossier, though it did not name the partisan sources.. 

The  memo's last paragraph  shoots down a wider GOP argument , that the entire Russian "witch hunt" was based on the Steele dossier. The memo admits that the reason the FBI got involved in the investigation into Russian interference, was not Steele or Carter Page: it was the Australian ambassador's report of a conversation with  George Papadapoulis. Page’s Russian connections were on FBI radar  long before the Steele dossier came to light. Page is only one of many being investigated with contacts with the Russians.

Update Feb. 5:
While Donald Trump claims the Nunes memo vindicated him, Rep. Trey Gowdy who had access to the underlining classified FISA document, says the memo had no bearing on the Mueller probe, which will go on. However, it does have a bearing on the probe because it is an attempt to paint the FBI as incompetent and unfairly anti-trump, to damage the credibility of any findings of the Mueller probe and the FBI investigation as partisan motivated. That attempt failed. It failed because it also underlined the probe case does not depend on the Steele dossier and
the filing did tell the FISA court it originated from partisan interests, though it did not identify them specifically..No, Mr. President, the Nunes memo did not show a deep state FBI conspiracy against you.

Republicans on the Sunday talk show said the release of a controversial memo critical of the FBI had nothing to do with the investigation of the Trump campaign's…

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