The House Intelligence community tasked with investigating possible Trump ties to Russia is set to vote even as early as today on release of the now infamous “Nunes Memo” according to CNN.
By now, the basic premise of the memo is well-understood:
The Nunes memo alleges that the FBI abused the FISA surveillance law over its use of the opposition research dossier on Donald Trump and Russia as part of the case to obtain a FISA warrant for former Trump campaign foreign policy adviser Carter Page. It cites the role of Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein and outgoing deputy FBI Director Andrew McCabe for their roles in overseeing aspects of the investigation, according to a source briefed on the matter.
The Alt-Right is more than enthusiastic about the release of the memo, as well they should be. The memo is written by Nunes, the only member on the House Intelligence committee who was also a named official in the Trump transition team. Furthermore, Nunes has already theoretically recused himself from the entire Russian investigation due to his behavior last summer when he “found” important documentation that he needed to rush to the White House, only for it to quickly come out that he, in fact, obtained the information from the White House. He put on a show, a diversion, an effort to fake a positive angle in his theory regarding the investigation. And there is no reason to believe that the memo is any more reliable, any less a show. Indeed there is ample reason to believe it is completely unreliable. Trump’s own Justice Department has termed the memo “reckless” and the DOJ Inspector General has found nothing wrong with respect to any FISA request made by the FBI.
So, what is all this about?
It is easier and more important to answer what all the commotion about the memo is not about. The memo is not about whether Trump has conflicts with respect to Russia, whether through Russian assistance in the election, collusion, money-laundering or other compromising material that implicates Trump. Nor is the memo about any possible obstruction to the investigation.
One can easily conceive of a situation where the Republicans find some sort of abnormal action undertaken with respect to any FISA warrant obtained. It is likely there has never before been a foreign agent or foreign power involved in a presidential campaign. There would be a lot of “firsts” and a lot of “awkwardness.” Surely there will be much mucking to be made about the process and the underlying motivation.
Just as easily, it is easy to why the Alt-Right focuses solely upon the investigation itself, and not with the evidence that is obtained without regard to source. Nations such as Australia and Denmark reported intelligence regarding Russian influence in the campaign that pre-dated any intelligence gleaned through the Steele Dossier. Furthermore, do not allow the Alt-Right to convince you to throw away the probable cause evidence derived from Steele. Steele was not some political “hack,” on the prowl for an angle. He was the former head of the MI-6 Russian intelligence desk, and came to our FBI with raw intelligence he thought they would want.
The fact that Steele’s investigation was initiated by the Conservative Free Beacon, and later the Clinton campaign should be considered in the veracity of the memo, but not as disqualifying. Law enforcement relies upon information obtained through drug dealers and mob bosses for probable cause warrants every day. The fact that some, not all, but some information came in from a person hired by a campaign does not disqualify it from consideration, especially when it comes from such a credible source.
More importantly, none of it matters!
Special Investigator Robert Mueller has already secured convictions from Page and Flynn. He will be speaking with Bannon, and likely Kushner and Trump himself. That evidence, the evidence obtained from primary sources, backed-up by documentation and other witnesses, will be the evidence that speaks to whether Trump is compromised with respect to Russia, whether Trump laundered money on behalf of Russians, whether there existed collusion, a quid pro quo, whether Kushner sought to illegally set-up a back-channel to secretly communicate with the Russians, and whether Trump has obstructed the investigation.
The dossier, the “memo,” the FISA warrants, none of those issues bear upon the focus of the investigation, Trump and Russia. If one wants, one can even concede to the Alt-Right; “Fine, the FISA process was wholly illegal. Throw out all the evidence and punish any wrongdoing. Now let’s discuss what the people close to Trump said about his relationship with Russia to Robert Mueller.”
The Alt-Right can mock what they call “the Russian obsession,” and they do, all they want. It just doesn’t make any of it untrue.
Today, the president misses the deadline to act upon sanctions imposed upon Russia by Congress. It is almost as if the Russians control our president … and that, is the ultimate question to be resolved by Mueller. Do not let the Alt-Right and Nunes manipulate the focus.