About that Nunes Memo

Well, we all knew it was a piece of crap of course. What did you expect from the Republican House Intelligence Committee Chairman and Trump Transition Official who rushed to the White House to view classified documents smuggled out of a secure facility by his former aide Michael Ellis, hold over deputy to the foreign agent and now convicted felon Michael Flynn, and then quickly emerge to disclose that classified information publicly in an attempt to smear Obama Administration officials for “unmasking” (again in a classified context, not disclosed to the public) the identities of Trump Campaign Officials that had been picked up in Communications Surveillance of Russian spies?

Remember that? It was a little less than a year ago.

Remember too that Republican House Speaker, third in line of succession, Paul Ryan has so far refused to fire him.

It seems disclosing classified information has become quite a habit for Representative Nunes because at the beginning of this month (and it’s a very short month, that’s why we devote it to Black History) he released a memo that exposed the workings of the FISA Court (methods) to authorize direct Communications Surveillance of U.S. Citizens (Carter Page, foreign-policy adviser to Donald Trump during his 2016 Campaign, who was actively being recruited as a Russian spy) and some of the evidence (sources) used to obtain that warrant (the Steele Dossier) in order to discredit…

What exactly? I mean, they got what they got and that is the process the government uses. I don’t even really disagree with the disclosure, I think the FISA Court is intrusive, bad for civil liberties, and should be more transparent.

But “Steele Dossier”!!! Republicans now call it the “Dirty Dossier” because one tiny section in it reports the so far unsubstantiated allegation that Donald Trump so hates Barack Obama that when he was on a trip to Russia in 2013 he rented the same suite of the Ritz-Carlton Hotel in Moscow Obama had used and paid some Sex Workers to piss on the bed while he watched.

If true, petty and stupid (that doesn’t sound anything like The Donald to you, does it?). The Obama visit was years before and it’s a Ritz-Carlton, not a hot sheet by the hour nookie nook, they replace their mattresses every once in a while. Some people say “Where did Trump sleep?” In another room, duh. In any event not really central to the main report.

The more “delicate” Republicans ignore that but contend since it was financed in it’s latter stages by the Hillary Campaign it is partisan and unreliable. Christopher Steele, the former MI-6 (James Bond’s outfit) Officer never knew who paid for it, his checks all came from his employer, Fusion GPS. Their initial money came from The Washington Free Beacon, a website which was financed by Republican donor Paul Singer and closely associated with Kentucky Senator Rand Paul who as you’ll recall was initially Trump’s rival for the Republican Nomination. They pulled their funding on May 3rd, 2016.

So if you remember all of that, maybe you have one of the Great Memories Of All Time and are a G.M.O.A.T.

Just like The Donald.

Perhaps Donald Trump Is Actually A Dumb Liar With A Terrible Memory

Anyway Adam Schiff, the Democratic Ranking Member of the House Intelligence Committee, and his Minority colleagues put together a 10 page refutation of the Nunes Memo that Trump approved the release of before anyone from his National Security team or he had read it which did indeed include Top Secret “sources and methods” and courteously submitted it to the White House so that any objectionable material (Top Secret “sources and methods”) could be removed.

Well, first they dithered for over a week because they didn’t like the fact that it made Nunes and the Trump team look like idiots, then they released it yesterday, a Saturday, in the hope it would vanish without a trace.

They also censored parts of it to make it look like they had real National Security concerns and did a terrible job because almost all the bits they removed are recapitulated in footnotes they didn’t touch.

This is because they’re ignorant and can’t read.

Charlie Savage of The New York Times gives these as the 5 most important takeaways-

  1. The F.B.I. used only a small part of the information provided by Mr. Steele.
  2. The surveillance court knew that Mr. Steele’s clients had a political motive.
  3. The Yahoo News article was not used to corroborate Mr. Steele.
  4. Republican-appointed judges approved the surveillance of Mr. Page.
  5. The wiretap of Mr. Page generated useful intelligence.

Savage gets a lot more detailed about each point so you’ll probably want to click through.

I hate to reference Jonathan Chait as he’s a moron and exemplifies everything that is bad and corrupt about Rolodex Reporting but, you know, broken clock-

The Nunes Memo Is Fake and the Russia Scandal Is Very Real
By Jonathan Chait, New York Magazine
February 24, 2018

More than a month ago, conservatives rose up in coordinated demands to “release the memo.” The memo, supposedly, contained breathtaking evidence of corruption in the Justice Department. The agents of the Deep State had allegedly used a partisan memo to spy on the Trump campaign, hiding its provenance. Fox News and numerous Republicans insisted the memo gave President Trump all the cause he needed to fire Rod Rosenstein and rein in Robert Mueller.

Republicans managed to delay the publication of a rebuttal memo by House Democrats for several weeks. The motivation for the delay is obvious. The Democratic memo lays waste to every important accusation made by Devin Nunes. (Or, to put it more accurately, made by Trump, via Nunes.)

Did the Justice Department rely on the Christopher Steele memo in order to surveil Carter Page? No, it did not. The FBI opened its counterintelligence investigation in July 2016. It received the Steele memo in September.

The Democratic memo has been held up because of security concerns. Whether the length of the delay is fully justified by these concerns, or whether it was designed in part to allow the Nunes memo to go unrebutted, cannot be known. But the utter bad faith of the Trump administration and its congressional protectors is suggestive.

Amusingly, the redactions to the memo are not all effective. One passage, meant to be blacked out, reveals that no fewer than four Trump-linked figures were under investigation for covert ties to Russian intelligence.

Meanwhile, in related news, Jared Kushner’s security clearance has been held up by “substantial issues … that still needed to be investigated.” This almost certainly is related to Russia, to which Kushner has murky business ties.

So, while the evidence that the DOJ has been corrupt or even sloppy in its investigation has disintegrated, evidence for the seriousness of the investigation itself has grown progressively stronger. The president, at minimum, chose to surround himself with people deeply susceptible to Russian leverage. The Republican party has decided, for the most part, that it does not care to find out the answer.

The Conservative Political Action Conference today awarded its “Defender of Freedom” award to Devin Nunes who chairs the House Intelligence Committee. More to the point, Nunes has abandoned any pretense of overseeing the executive branch, and has thrown himself fully into the task of attacking and smearing any law enforcement function that threatens to touch the Trump administration. Nunes is Trump’s leading goon in Congress. By the standards of the conservative movement, this renders him a champion of freedom, defined as protecting Trump from any accountability before the law.

This particular Teapot Tempest (“Hell is empty and all the Devils are here”) isn’t actually worth the ink and photons, a mere distraction from the indictments and Guilty Pleas. What is meaningful is that Manafort can not avoid co-operating with Mueller unless he’s willing to die alongside his daughter Andrea in prison. The least of it is full exposure of Don Jr.’s June 9, 2016 meeting in Trump Tower. Manafort knows lots of other stuff too, especially on the Russian end.

Jared is going to collapse under his own weight, his business dealings don’t bear even cursory scrutiny. Kelly will go down with his White Whale (“From hell’s heart I stab at thee; for hate’s sake I spit my last breath at thee.”). McMasters will get the ax for not being loyal enough, Mattis will quit out of frustration (I love a parade). There go your “Adult” Generals, a 3 Rock Takeout. The oily racist Drow Sessions cashiered for being unable to stop the inevitable train wreck. No one currently associated with Trump will escape a permanent taint.

My only worry is that the House of Cards will come crashing down too soon for maximum electoral benefit, that and we won’t get Pence (clearly guilty) and Ryan (a worse danger than Trump).