Russia

The Nunes Memo is a Big Nothingburger

JM Ashby
Written by JM Ashby

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.

  • Badgerite

    It’s not a ‘firing’. It is a purge. Call it what it is. They are purging any Republicans that still adhere to their oath to the rule of law and the country.

  • Badgerite

    Talking Points Memo has a story article about trump’s handlers concerns that trump would unquestionably lie as he does all the time in a Mueller interview. That could be what the GOP freak out is really about. “Perjury Panic.” They might actually have incontrovertible evidence that they could not avoid seeing. And some of it might be about them as well. How Russian money and stolen DNC data found its way into their own campaigns. Like the NRA money that probably came from Russia. I’m guessing maybe Mueller has nailed that down.

  • Badgerite

    I am ashamed that Paul Ryan is from Wisconsin. He is an abject liar. Like trump.
    And as bad an export as Joe McCarthy.

  • ninjaf

    Meanwhile, news on Veselnitskaya goes under reported.

    CONSPIRACY
    Trump Tower Russian Lawyer, Natalia Veselnitskaya, Exposed in Swiss Corruption Case

    https://www.thedailybeast.com/trump-tower-russian-lawyer-natalia-veselnitskaya-exposed-in-swiss-corruption-case

  • Badgerite

    Rule of Law matters. Got that right. This effort by Preet Bharara and Christine Todd Whitman should cross party lines and should encompass the entire legal and law enforcement profession.

  • Badgerite

    House OversightDems@OversightDems
    Breaking: @OversightDems Ask Gowdy to Subpoena Documents Withheld by trump Administration on Russian Attacks on 21 States in #2016Election. medium.com/oversightdems/..

    Richard Painter
    “This was the most disturbing attack on the US since 9-11 and the trump administration is still withholding documents from Congress. There must be full disclosure NOW.

  • Badgerite

    Ted Lieu just nails it.
    “As a member of the House Judiciary Committee, I read the partisan, classified Nunes House intel memo. I can’t talk about it. However, here’s an analogy.
    Remember Geraldo and the infamous Mystery of Al Capone’s Vaults?
    It’s like that, but Gerald has more integrity.”
    Absolutely nailed it.

  • Badgerite

    Nunes is a big ‘nothing burger’.

  • muselet

    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.

    Oh. Good. Lord.

    A court wants to make sure a request for a warrant is supported by more than conjecture. A court is not going to demand an exhaustive explanation of what sources were used and when. “The memo’s primary contention” is half fallacy, half moonshine, meant to play to the Fox News-watching faithful, nothing more.

    I’m embarrassed to share a species with Devin Nunes, let alone a state.

    –alopecia

    • Aynwrong

      “…meant to play to the Fox News-watching faithful, nothing more.”

      Exactly. The only function the memo will ever serve is a hashtag.

      • Frances

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      • Yeah, but damage done. Most people don’t understand SOP for law enforcement and the court, but they watch “Law & Order” and think they do.

        • Aynwrong

          At this point, it should be obvious to anyone who’s paying attention what the memo is. Fodder for a circle jerk.

          • Yeah, but I don’t even know what “obvious” means in a world where reality is treated as multiple choice.

  • Badgerite

    Given all of the contacts with Russians closely associated with the Kremlin ( see intelligence operatives) including the top spy in the US the Russian ambassador Kislyak, and all of the lying and attempts that were made to cover those contacts up ( how many times did Session, trump, trump sons, Pence and everyone and their cousin involved in the trump campaign and transition deny that any of these contacts that are now well documented took place, oh yeah, lots of times), it seems to me that the FISA warrant that authorized surveillance of these contacts has been validated and then some. And then there is the non action of the trump regime with respect to any sanctions, response or even future defense against the Russian intelligence operation aimed at interfering in the American presidential election. Some things are obvious.
    Nunes running obstruction of justice scam for the trump regime is one of them. Just as Fox ‘news’ is pretty transparent these days, so is David Nunes. And he needs to go. As to most of the trump enabling, democracy hating, dishonest, greedy GOP.

  • gescove

    Devin Nunes (Douchebag – CA) chairs the House committee. Richard Burr of NC chairs the Senate side. Nunes supposedly recused himself from any role in these investigations since, but it seems he had his fingers crossed so it doesn”t count. Or something.

    • JMAshby

      Ah shit. Yeah, I know the difference, my brain is just scrambled on a Monday especially when I’ve got a dozen stories I’m thinking about. Thanks. Fixed it.