The Democratic response the Nunes memo proves what a farce the whole thing was and lays the groundwork for an obstruction charge

Remember the so-called Nunes memo, and how it was supposed to expose a deep state conspiracy that, according Sebastian Gorka, the former deputy assistant to Donald Trump, was “100 times bigger” than what caused the American revolution? Do you remember how Trump had it released over the warnings of the intelligence community, who said that it was constructed from cherry-picked data, absent any context, with the intention of giving the false impression that a FISA warrant was granted against Trump advisor Carter Page for strictly political reasons? And do you remember how the Democrats had wanted to respond immediately, but were blocked at the time by members of the Trump administration and their supporters in Congress? Well, the Democratic response to the Nunes memo finally saw the light of day yesterday, and it’s clear to see why Trump and his allies fought so hard to keep that from happening. You can read the whole thing on the website of the House Intelligence Committee, but here’s the first page.

Put simply, the Democratic memo, which was written by Ranking Member of the House Intelligence Committee Adam Schiff, proves, as we knew that it would, that Nunes was was lying when he suggested in his memo that the entire Russia investigation had its roots in a smear campaign orchestrated by Clinton and Obama… As you’ll recall, Nunes, in his memo, made the case that the investigation began when an opposition research report, written by former MI6 officer Christopher Steele, and paid for the Clinton campaign, that had been handed over to Obama’s Justice Department… Well, thanks to the well-sourced and corroborated Democratic memo, we know that was all bullshit. We know that the Russia investigation started well before the Steel dossier was given to the FBI, and for very good reason. And we know that Nunes, by issuing his false and misleading memo at the behest of the administration, has engaged in obstruction of justice… Here, with more detail on the timing of the investigation, is a clip from toay’s Washington Post.

…The investigation into whether Trump’s campaign was aiding Russian interference began July 31, 2016. We’ve known for months that the investigation into interactions between Trump’s campaign team and Russia’s interference effort began in July. The Democratic memo affixes a specific date: July 31, 2016.

That counterintelligence investigation began, both sides agree, after a Trump campaign adviser named George Papadopoulos was told by a Russia-connected contact that the country had “dirt” on Hillary Clinton in the form of emails. Papadopoulos conveyed that to a diplomat from Australia during a meeting in London in May 2016. Once the emails stolen from the Democratic National Committee began being released by WikiLeaks and others in June and July, the Australians informed U.S. intelligence officials about what Papadopoulos had said.

This also means that the investigation began four days after Trump publicly asked Russian hackers during a news conference to release emails stolen from Clinton’s private server if they had them.

By September 2016, the FBI had opened investigations into four members of Trump’s campaign team. The Democratic memo says the information compiled by Steele into his infamous “dossier” of 17 raw intelligence reports didn’t get to the FBI’s counterintelligence team until the middle of September. By that point, we can conclude thanks to a sloppy redaction (noted by former intelligence officer Matt Tait) and an unredacted footnote that Page, Papadopoulos, former Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort and Michael Flynn, who would go on to be Trump’s national security adviser, were all already under investigation.

While Steele’s research began in June and he reached out to the FBI shortly after beginning it, the Democratic memo argues that it was only after an FBI team was checking into Page that the dossier came to their attention. Why? For one thing, we can assume, Page had visited Russia during July to give a speech. For another, he’d been interviewed by the FBI in 2013 after Russian intelligence agents were observed mentioning him as a potential target for recruitment…

So, no, the whole “Russia thing,” as Trump likes to call it, was not a setup by Obama and Clinton. The investigation began well before the Steele dossier came to light, based on a tip from the Australian government that George Papadopoulos, while drunk at a bar in London, had mentioned that the Russians would soon be releasing hacked Democratic emails. [Plus, as we know now, the FISA warrant against Carter Page was issued by a Republican judge, and renewed on two separate occasions, by other Republican appointees, indicating that FBI surveillance was actually turning up enough solid, actionable evidence to justify the continuation of surveillance.]

Trump, for what it’s worth, is apparently pissed that the Democratic memo was released.

For what it’s worth, the above tweet, sent out this morning by our President, was incorrect. Fox News apparently didn’t say anything of the sort… According to Brian Stelter, the host of CNN’s Reliable Sources, what the Fox News host actually said was, “Congressman Schiff, he ARGUES the REPUBLICAN memo omitted and distorted key facts.” I know it’s a subtle difference, but there is kind of a difference between saying that the Fox News host said “Schiff omitted and distorted key facts” and saying that Schiff argued that the Nunes memo “omitted and distorted key facts.”

I’d like to think that people would be up in arms about this, but, given our history, I’m not expecting much. Fortunately, though, it doesn’t matter what people think. The important thing is that Mueller knows what’s happening, and he can now prove a pattern of obstruction, with Trump not only releasing this deceptive memo intended to convince the American people of bias within the intelligence community, but also authoring that letter for his son, stating falsely that a Russian delegation had come to Trump Tower during the campaign to discuss adoption policy, and not to offer “dirt” on Hillary Clinton, as we’ve since come to learn.

Oh, and one last thing… Former DNC Chairman Howard Dean predicted today that Congressman Devin Nunes will eventually be going to prison for his role in all of this.

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  1. Anonymous
    Posted February 26, 2018 at 7:22 am | Permalink

    Picking a fight with the intelligence community is not a good long term strategy.

  2. Meta
    Posted February 26, 2018 at 9:46 am | Permalink

    Fox continues to lie. Today they are still saying that the Steele dossier was the genesis of the investigation.

    From Fox News:
    .@TomFitton: “If we had known about the origins of this dossier a year or so ago, there’d be no special counsel – and there might be a special counsel targeting the Obama Administration.”

  3. Iron Lung 2
    Posted February 26, 2018 at 9:53 am | Permalink

    It doesn’t matter what reality is. There are online resources for telling us what reality is. You can use them when homeschooling you child.

  4. Lynne
    Posted February 26, 2018 at 5:21 pm | Permalink

    I think we have to accept that factual arguments matter less than emotional ones. Not sure how to spin this one in an emotional way yet.

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