USA: House intelligence memo released

The US House Intelligence Committee has released a memo that alleges abuses of secret surveillance by the FBI and Justice Department in the Trump-Russia investigation. One might wonder whether this is in the interests of public trust, or of partisan posturing, and one might wonder whether ‘US intelligence’ or ‘House intelligence’ are oxymorons.

The memo is marked as ‘Top Secret’ but President Trump ordered that it be declassified.

House Intelligence panel chairman Devin Nunes says in statement that the memo ‘shows serious violations of the public trust,’ and hopes document will trigger reforms.

Democratic leader Nancy Pelosi has responded to the memo release:

President Trump has surrendered his constitutional responsibility as Commander-in-Chief by releasing highly classified and distorted intelligence.

As the Department of Justice warned, the public release of the memo would be an “unprecedented action” and “extraordinarily reckless”.

The FBI also expressed “grave concerns about material omissions of fact that fundamentally impact the memo’s accuracy”.

Washington Examiner: House Intelligence memo released: What it says

Here are some key points:

  • The Steele dossier formed an essential part of the initial and all three renewal FISA applications against Carter Page.
  • Andrew McCabe confirmed that no FISA warrant would have been sought from the FISA Court without the Steele dossier information.
  • The four FISA surveillance applications were signed by, in various combinations, James Comey, Andrew McCabe, Sally Yates, Dana Boente, and Rod Rosenstein.
  • The FBI authorized payments to Steele for work on the dossier. The FBI terminated its agreement with Steele in late October when it learned, by reading an article in Mother Jones, that Steele was talking to the media.
  • The political origins of the Steele dossier were known to senior DOJ and FBI officials, but excluded from the FISA applications.
  • DOJ official Bruce Ohr met with Steele beginning in the summer of 2016 and relayed to DOJ information about Steele’s bias. Steele told Ohr that he, Steele, was desperate that Donald Trump not get elected president and was passionate about him not becoming president.

The full memo (PDF).

The Nunes statement:

House Intelligence panel Democrats say they hope to release their own memo on Monday,

Democrat responses:

 

63 Comments

  1. Gezza

     /  February 3, 2018

    • Joe Bloggs

       /  February 3, 2018

      Lame effort Representative Jordan: How about Trump devotee writes salacious, blatantly partisan and misleading memo to justify obstructing the Mueller investigation, and doesn’t tell the public the White House was co-author.

  2. David

     /  February 3, 2018

    This is just hilarious. Trump can now fire the entire FBI and DOJ.

  3. Griff

     /  February 3, 2018

    Oh dear
    Trump can now fire the entire FBI and DOJ.

    You think firing the department of justice and the FBI over a blatantly partisan memo is a good idea for american democracy do you Dave ?

    Democracy dies in the USA
    Best thing that can happen is the coastal states secede and leave god addled gop voting flyover usa to self destruct all on its own.

    • David

       /  February 3, 2018

      “You think firing the department of justice and the FBI over a blatantly partisan memo is a good idea for american democracy do you Dave ?”

      No I don’t. I think Trump can fire the entire FBI and DOJ because the FBI and DOJ colluded with the Clinton campaign to get a FISA warrant on Carter Page and then lie about it.
      The whole Russia nonsense is based entirely on the Steele dossier.

      “Democracy dies in the USA”

      Not very democratic when the DOJ and FBI are stooges for the Clinton campaign now is it?

      “Best thing that can happen is the coastal states secede and leave god addled gop voting flyover usa to self destruct all on its own.”

      A profoundly bigoted viewpoint.

      • Joe Bloggs

         /  February 3, 2018

        Frankly David, the profoundly bigoted viewpoint is yours – it seems you have no interest in embracing reality

        • David

           /  February 3, 2018

          It must hurt to see your impeachment fantasies fall apart so easily.

          • Joe Bloggs

             /  February 3, 2018

            Oh I have no expectations that impeachment will ever happen while the GOP is in control… they’re too corrupt to allow that.

            No I think trump will be named as an unindicted co-conspirator and will likely be changed after his team ends.

          • Joe Bloggs

             /  February 3, 2018

            Oh i’m not holding my breath waiting for impeachment. The GOP doesn’t have the moral fibre to allow emplacement ent to occur on their watch.

            More likely trump will be named as an unindicted coconspirator and charged when he leaves office.

            • David

               /  February 3, 2018

              “More likely trump will be named as an unindicted coconspirator and charged when he leaves office.”

              That is so unlikely to be beyond funny. The only thing they are ever going to get him for is some process related charge like lying to the FBI. That’s why the only thing Muller is actively chasing is a purgery trap for Trump.

  4. Corky

     /  February 3, 2018

    President Trumpy in control as usual.

  5. Joe Bloggs

     /  February 3, 2018

    Thanks for your incisive evaluation of the Nunes memo, David. Everything is so much clearer for your efforts… and it will bear hard for me to match your depth of understan ding of the issues Nunes raises… but I’m a goin’ to try:

    The Nunes Memo is a Nothing Memo.

    It’s intended to make the following arguments:

    1) The FISA application in October 2016 to monitor Carter Page was based on the Steele Dossier.
    2) The Steele Dossier was a politically biased document.

    The problem with #1: The Nunes Memo doesn’t establish or even argue that the FISA warrant was based solely on the Steele Dossier. It seems clear that Page has a ton of suspicious behavior that would have supplemented the Steele Dossier, plenty for the requirement of probable cause.

    The problem with #2: Allegations of bias are not legally relevant to challenge evidence for probable cause. Law enforcment officials can rely on witnesses, even if those witnesses are biased, as long as there is sufficient basis to rely on the facts those witnesses have offered. Criminal investigations are full of biased witnesses. A rule to exclude witnesses because of some kind of “bias” would wipe out our law enforcement system. The Nunes Memo totally fails to show that any bias led Steele to offer any allegation that turned out to be untrue. The Steele Dossier so far has held up, and many parts of it have been confirmed (including by Page’s own testimony).

    And in the light of Asha Rangappa’s questions:

    1. When did the FBI open an investigation on Carter Page?
    If the Nunes Memo doesn’t indicate when the investigation underlying the Page FISA application was opened or how many months/years of investigative activity preceding the dossier is detailed in the Page FISA application, it isn’t telling a sufficiently complete or accurate story.

    Did the Memo address this question? Nowhere near. The memo starts its timeline with the FISA application in October 2016. But there seems to have been a ton of evidence for “probable cause” on Carter Page’s criminal conduct from 2013, and Page’s own testimony and interviews indicates a remarkable amount of suspicious behavior throughout 2016.

    The Nunes Memo tries to imply that the FISA warrant was based solely on the Steele Dossier, but the Steele Dossier allegations have mostly been confirmed, and no significant allegation in it has been disproved. Moreoever, Page was already on radars as a Russian agent.

    2. Who in the DOJ conducted the Woods Procedures on the FISA application?
    If the Nunes Memo doesn’t address who conducted the Woods Procedures for the Page FISA application, any deficiencies in those procedures, or address this part of the DOJ review process at all, it’s skipping over a critical part of the vetting process.

    Did the Nunes Memo address the Woods Procedure? NO.

    3. Who was the federal judge who approved the FISA?
    Alleging a concerted conspiracy by the FBI/DOJ in obtaining the Page FISA necessarily implicates the judge who approved it, and suggests they are incompetent (at best) or corrupt (at worst). If Nunes is alleging serious crimes on the part of the FBI and DOJ, he needs to put his money where his mouth is and identify the judge who approved the FISA application. If he doesn’t, it’s likely because even he knows that this would be taking his accusations too far.

    Did the Nunes Memo address the judge who approved it? NO.

    4. Was the FISA warrant ever extended?
    Neither the FBI nor the DOJ has the power to extend a FISA surveillance order, they must request it. If a request to extend FISA surveillance that began in September 2016 was made by Rosenstein in or around March 2017, the FBI had to have shown a federal judge that it had collected additional foreign intelligence information justifying the original order at least once already, around December 2016. The Nunes Memo should address the fact that additional information validating the original FISA order was obtained, and reviewed and approved by a federal judge and administration staff at the DOJ.

    Did the Nunes Memo address the FISA warrant’s extensions? The memo indicates that there were THREE FISA renewals, but it does not acknowledge how these renewals undercut the memo’s implications. Each renewal suggests confirmation of probable cause to continue monitoring Page. Just one renewal would be problematic for Nunes’s allegations. Three renewals indicate a lot of confirmation of the initial suspicions.

    5. Has Mueller used anything derived from the FISA in his investigation?
    Anything that discredits the Page FISA application by definition is intended to cast doubt on the Mueller investigation (and by implication, his boss Rosenstein). If this is the case, then Mueller should be named directly in the memo as someone who has personally engaged in misconduct in reliance on the Page warrant. If he is not, it is because Nunes knows that this is a line he cannot politically cross directly without real evidence – and is trying to do so indirectly.

    Did the Nunes Memo address this question: No. Mueller is never mentioned.

    One more question: If Nunes and House Committee had such concerns about the FISA process from this episode, why did they vote to re-authorize the same FISA system without raising or addressing any of these “problems”?

      • Joe Bloggs

         /  February 3, 2018

        Just for context, eh…

        The FBI’s Clinton Foundation investigation was based on the book ‘Clinton Cash’ — and fueled by secret recordings

        Peter Schweizer, the author of “Clinton Cash” and an editor at large at the alt-right media outlet Breitbart — whose executive chairman, Stephen Bannon, took a leave of absence to be CEO of the Trump campaign — told NBC in April 2015 that he didn’t have direct evidence proving that Hillary Clinton traded favours for money while she was at the State Department.

        http://www.businessinsider.com/fbi-clinton-foundation-investigation-cash-2016-11

    • “The Nunes Memo doesn’t establish or even argue that the FISA warrant was based solely on the Steele Dossier.” It makes it clear NO FISA warrants were issued WITHOUT IT.

      • Steele’s hatred of Trump, his witch hunt tactics and vendetta-like determination Trump “wouldn’t be President” were known by Ohr and FBI, yet they still used his dossier to obtain warrants.

        http://www.foxnews.com/politics/2018/02/02/fisa-memo-steele-fired-as-fbi-source-for-breaking-cardinal-rule-leaking-to-media.html

        • In addition, let’s not forget that it was Peter Strzok, (the No. 2 at the FBI’s counterintelligence division) who OPENED the bureau’s investigation on Russian meddling and collusion. As we all now know copious text messages between him and his fellow FBI official and lover Lisa Page show that he had a huge anti-Trump bias.

          • Joe Bloggs

             /  February 3, 2018

            That’s the same Peter Strzok who co-authored the memo that reopened the Clinton email investigation and contributed to her losing the election.

            • David

               /  February 3, 2018

              It’s almost like he’s incompetent…who would have known?

            • Joe Bloggs

               /  February 3, 2018

              Yup, quite possibly Steele was incompetent, and quite possibly some of the information he was fed was misinformation, but that’s all irrelevant -see my response to Traveller above.

              The memo elides the fact that the FBI was applying for a warrant to surveil Page and provides no evidence that Steele was biased against Page.

            • David

               /  February 3, 2018

            • MaureenW

               /  February 3, 2018

              He didn’t have any choice, the NYPD found classified documents on Weiners laptop along with his dick-pics.

        • Joe Bloggs

           /  February 3, 2018

          The trouble with your argument about Steele, Traveller, is that Steele may have hated trump but this FISA is all about Carter Page, and Nunes produces no evidence to indicate that Steele hated Page.

          The memo skips over the fact that the FBI was applying for a warrant to surveil Page, not Trump. It provides no evidence that Steele was biased against Page. But even if it had, that wouldn’t matter.

          Steele met with journalists and didn’t like trump but that doesn’t provide evidence of legal wrongdoing. Law enforcement officers — which is what FBI agents are — rely on biased informants to obtain warrants every day.

          • David

             /  February 3, 2018

            ” is all about Carter Page, and Nunes produces no evidence to indicate that Steele hated Page.”

            The only reason Page has any relevance at all, in any shape or form, is his connection to Trump. Nothing burger indeed.

  6. Alan Wilkinson

     /  February 3, 2018

    I’m waiting to hear what secret national surveillance techniques were revealed by this inexcusable release of classified information. Reading planted stories in national Lefty news media was it?

  7. Joe Bloggs

     /  February 3, 2018

    • Alan Wilkinson

       /  February 3, 2018

      Dead Squirrel Society member, Joe?

      • Joe Bloggs

         /  February 3, 2018

        Alan, I suspect the only dead squirrel here is Devin Nunes and his nothing-burger memo.

        FFS, Nunes’ memo even attributes the opening of the Russian investigation to Papadopoulos… which pretty much undermines its arguments about the Steele dossier.

        Nunes has shot his foot off with this lame-arse effort to line Rosenstein up for firing, but the more corrupt outcome is that trump might well do that anyway.

        • Alan Wilkinson

           /  February 3, 2018

          So many squirrels, so little time. Where is the damage to US intelligence sources?

  8. A rare sensible response:

    • Joe Bloggs

       /  February 3, 2018

      It’s interesting that Fox News were reporting the contents of the Nunes Nothing-burger over half an hour before the White House officially released the memo.

    • Republican lawmaker Trey Gowdy, who led the Benghazi investigation, wrote on Twitter today, “As I have said repeatedly, I also remain 100 percent confident in Special Counsel Robert Mueller. The contents of this memo do not — in any way — discredit his investigation.”
      It doesn’t necessarily, but it adds to the trope that the FBI is flawed when it comes to being politically objective.

    • PDB

       /  February 3, 2018

      The memo is one sides spin on the story with no way of knowing if it is in context or not. It adds to the information in the public arena but is far from a smoking gun.

      • Joe Bloggs

         /  February 3, 2018

        Nice to see you taking a critical view PDB, there’s hope for you yet.

        Just one small correction – the Nunes nothingburger doesn’t add to information in the public arena, it distorts information that was by and large already there.

        And for another critical view, here’s Mike Murphy, who just happens to be one of the most experienced Republican strategists (and a Never trumper incidentally so no more or less partisan than the rest of his party)

        • PDB

           /  February 3, 2018

          “the Nunes nothingburger doesn’t add to information in the public arena, it distorts information that was by and large already there.”

          That is your opinion, not fact. We don’t know how accurate the memo is – if accurate then it confirms some of what the Trump team have been saying.

          • Joe Bloggs

             /  February 3, 2018

            • MaureenW

               /  February 3, 2018

              Meanwhile Comey has gone, McCabe’s gone and Rosenstein is looking somewhat queasy.

          • Alan Wilkinson

             /  February 3, 2018

            Reportedly the memo’s facts are correct. The FBI could only complain about “omissions”. We will see if the Democrats can identify any significant ones.

            • Alan Wilkinson

               /  February 3, 2018

              PS: that seems very unlikely or the Lefty media would already have been leaked them either by the Left’s politicians or bureaucrats.

            • Joe Bloggs

               /  February 3, 2018

              just a few omissions:

              – It does not dispute the Papadopoulos contacts with the Russians

              – It does not dispute the Trump Tower meeting between Trump’s son and Russian officials to gain opposition research on Clinton

              – It does not dispute Trump’s own involvement in crafting an inaccurate statement about that meeting

              – It does not dispute that Russians hacked into the emails of the Democratic National Committee and a top Clinton campaign official

              – It does not dispute that Trump fired Comey because he was unhappy with his continued pursuit of the Russia investigation

              – it omits the FBI investigation of Carter Page’s previous interactions with Russian intelligence operatives – an investigation that started in 2013 well before the Steele Dossier was even a twinkle in the eyes of Republican mega-donor Paul Singer and the Washington Free Beacon who first commissioned it.

              But the kicker is this line in the Nunes memo:

              The Papadopoulos information triggered the opening of an FBI counterintelligence investigation in late July 2016 by FBI agent Pete Strzok. Strzok was reassigned by the Special Counsel’s office … for improper text messages with his mistress, FBI Attorney Lisa Page … where they both demonstrated a clear bias against Trump.

              This is apparently supposed to show that the investigation was opened by a biased FBI agent. But it actually shows that the FBI investigation predated the supposed misuse of the Steele dossier, and it shows that the cause of the investigation was information provided by Papadopoulos, which is what the New York Times reported. Remember, that Times report was widely mocked by trump allies. Yet the memo actually lends that story more credence and, in the process, undercuts the whole alt-narrative that the genesis of the probe was illegitimate.

            • Alan Wilkinson

               /  February 3, 2018

              It’s hilarious of course that the FBI used a document prepared by the Democrat candidate with the collusion of Russia in order to open an investigation into the Republican candidate about collusion with Russia.

    • Alan Wilkinson

       /  February 3, 2018

      So what classified information was inexcusably exposed, Pete? Inquiring minds want to know.

      • I was just relaying reactions as the story broke after the memo was released. I have no opinion on the rights and wrongs that this may reveal.

        I’m sure inquiring minds will give plenty of analysis in time – and I think that decent analysis will take time.

        All my own inquiring mind wonders at this stage is what a dysfunctional circus US politics is.

      • Joe Bloggs

         /  February 3, 2018

        Nunes nothing-burger hasn’t even lived up to those expectations Alan.

        About the only classified information that has been revealed is that a FISA was used against Russian agent Carter Page. FISA surveillance orders are classified, and they have long been among the US government’s most carefully guarded national security secrets.

        Although I do wonder which version of the Nunes nothing-burger we’ve been served up with: the one that the Republicans claimed contained shocking details about secret intelligence activities, or the version that went to the White House… ‘cos there’s nothing particularly shocking in the version we’ve seen, other than the Russian investigation was opened according to Nunes as a result of Papadopoulos evidence

        • PDB

           /  February 3, 2018

          You’re in full spin mode this morning Bloggs – sit back and see where this goes (if anywhere).

          • Joe Bloggs

             /  February 3, 2018

            C’mon, man. Take pride in your work. Don’t be lazy and just phone it in like this.

            • PDB

               /  February 3, 2018

              ?? I’ve no skin in the game either way so eager to hear what comes of this. No doubt interested parties were going to spin it their way regardless of what the memo contained.

        • Alan Wilkinson

           /  February 3, 2018

          So you are saying the FBI’s press release claiming it would damage national security was fake news?

    • MaureenW

       /  February 3, 2018

      Says James Comey who leaked classified info to the NYT via his lawyer

  9. Alan Wilkinson

     /  February 3, 2018

    The naked and sickening hypocrisy of the Lefty media over the release of the memo:
    http://thehill.com/opinion/judiciary/371962-get-all-the-facts-out-on-the-fbi-justice-department

    (by an ex-Clinton adviser)

    • David

       /  February 3, 2018

      It’s almost like they have forgotten Eric Holder, Obama’s self appointed ‘wingman’.

    • Joe Bloggs

       /  February 3, 2018

      I think the answer to this is straightforward: release the Schiff rebuttal

      • Alan Wilkinson

         /  February 3, 2018

        When have the Left needed official permission to get classified information published?

      • David

         /  February 3, 2018

        He can release it any time he wishes. It required a court subpoena to get the ‘nothing-burger’ memo released because the FBI/DOJ were so against its release.