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The Nunes Memo is Boring

I'm disappointed in the Nunes Memo on every level. It's uninteresting. It is non-revelatory. For something containing classified information, it's astonishing that it doesn't advance the story one inch beyond what has already been reported. It's not even that worthy of mockery because it's too flavorless.

Of course, it's simply wrong in some very obvious respects. The FISA warrant against Carter Page was based on the fact that the guy was a known counterintelligence risk who was in the habit of traveling to places like Moscow and Budapest and mixing with Kremlin officials and spies. The Steele Dossier took independent note of this, which speaks to Steele getting real information, but how Steele felt about Trump or who paid Steele has no bearing on Page's actual activities, which were highly suspect.

Likewise, the idea that the FBI only pursued Page because certain members of management there had Democratic sympathies or connections through their spouses is ridiculous on its face. Bias at the FBI can run in both directions, obviously, but I'd guarantee you that Trump wouldn't trade how he was treated by the FBI in October 2016 for the way Clinton was treated. The FBI actually gave Trump a clean bill of health to the New York Times and incorrectly assured the public that Trump's campaign was not being investigated for its ties to the Russians. What's to complain about there?

The memo also says that Steele was "terminated" as a source after he talked to David Corn in frustration about the FBI dragging its feet on the information he had provided them. But that's not true. Steele never had a formal contract or a job with the FBI and therefore he couldn't be "terminated." In fact, the FBI maintained discussions with Steele past the election.

Finally, if there is anything in the memo of possible real import, it's the possibility that the FBI improperly characterized the information they got from Steele during one or more of the FISA applications on Page. But the memo doesn't provide the other information they relied in their application other than to mention that the subject of George Papadapoulos came up. He would be relevant because he held the same position in the campaign as Page and was approached by the Russians and told that they had dirt on Clinton in the form of hacked emails. That's a rather important point that would make it reasonable to look at all of Trump's foreign policy advisors, particularly if they were traveling to Russia, badmouthing sanctions in Moscow speeches, and meeting with Kremlin officials and known spies.

Based on what we already know and what Page has testified to in Congress, no FISA judge would have turned down an FBI application to surveil his next trip to Russia or his subsequent activities. This is true completely independently of what Steele reported. But, remember, Steele reported on Carter Page independently of the FBI who never told him in advance that Page had already been under FISA surveillance in 2013 for his contacts with Russian spies in New York City. No matter what the Nunes Memo says, Steele's information corroborated what the FBI already suspected, but it wasn't crucial to their interest in Page.

Maybe Trump will use this memo to fire Rosenstein, since Rosenstein signed off on one of the FISA renewals, but Trump could also order rockets launched at the moon because the light disturbs his sleep. There need not be any logic involved in what he does. This memo doesn't justify firing anyone except the staffers who wrote it and the Republicans who voted to release it.


This post first appeared on Booman Tribune ~ A Progressive Community, please read the originial post: here

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The Nunes Memo is Boring


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