House Intelligence Committee Chairman Devin Nunes (R-CA) has been circulating a memo that supposedly reveals some kind of conspiracy at the Department of Justice to implicate the Trump regime, but what it really reveals is standard operating procedure.
As the Department of Justice has indicated, the memo includes classified information that may have already compromised their investigation.
The memo reveals that the Department of Justice renewed an application for surveillance on former Trump adviser Carter Page last year.
The renewal shows that the Justice Department under President Trump saw reason to believe that the associate, Carter Page, was acting as a Russian agent. But the reference to Mr. Rosenstein’s actions in the memo — a much-disputed document that paints the investigation into Russian election meddling as tainted from the start — indicates that Republicans may be moving to seize on his role as they seek to undermine the inquiry.
The memo’s primary contention is that F.B.I. and Justice Department officials failed to adequately explain to an intelligence court judge in initially seeking a warrant for surveillance of Mr. Page that they were relying in part on research by an investigator, Christopher Steele, that had been financed by the Democratic National Committee and Hillary Clinton’s presidential campaign.
The Justice Department's interest in Carter Page predates the so-called Steele dossier by a significant chunk of time.
In fact, our interest in Carter Page right here on this blog and others predates our awareness of the dossier's existence. It's been years since we initially discussed Page's role on the Trump campaign in 2016 after footage of him attacking the United States while delivering a speech in Moscow was aired on CNN. We didn't learn the details of the "pee tape" dossier until Buzzfeed published it in early 2017 after the election was already over.
The FBI began investigating Russian interference in the 2016 campaign after they were tipped off by Australian diplomats and we know their interest in Carter Page dates back even further (2013) to a time before Trump even declared that he was running for office. And former FBI director James Comey wasn't even aware of the dossier until it was handed to him by Senator John McCain.
As for the FISA warrant itself, Rod Rosenstein cannot will it existence. The FISA court and the presiding judge must sign off on all FISA warrants and, if they signed off on a warrant for surveillance of Carter Page, they would have had a good reason to.
We know the conspiracy theory levied by Devin Nunes is bullshit, but his memo does reveal that Carter Page is probably under surveillance right now. Page may have assumed as much in any case, but he doesn't strike me as a particularly bright person.
It seems to me there could be enough here to make a criminal case against Devin Nunes, but no federal attorney under Trump is going to make that case.