Political Scorecard: the Nunes Memo

(Note: This is post is more of a work in progress. My rationale is that if I don’t post this soon, I never will, and I do want to test the idea out–an idea I mentioned briefly in this post. Think of it as a beta-test; or maybe watching me build a house in front of everyone, while hopefully getting some help from those watching. Also, not that I have to tell you this, but please take what I say with a grain of salt. There could be errors, here. Indeed, if you guys notice them let me know, particularly any factual errors or other significant inaccuracies.)

This scorecard will focus on Rep. Devin Nunes’s memo. Score will be kept about the claims made by the memo, as well as counter-claims. I’ll also keep score on the people making the claims. Here are brief summaries of the two main claims:

The Nunes Side:

  • My understanding is that Rep. Nunes has found that DOJ/FBI have improperly got FISA warrant to set up surveillance on Carter Page.
    The claim is that Christopher Steele’s dossier was the primary reason for this. The claim is that FBI/DOJ(?) didn’t give background information about Steele dossier, namely that Steele hired by Fusion GPS, who was hired by DNC to do opposition research on Trump. (Fusion GPS actually initiated the research from a conservative group during GOP primary.)
    The contention is that the memo will reveal serious misconduct and perhaps show politicization of the Russia investigation.
    Nunes did make changes to the memo, after it was voted on to be made public, but Nunes claims the changes were minor (grammatical type of changes.
  • The Schiff Side:

  • My understanding is that Rep. Schiff believes the memo is baseless and also dangerous–in that it can expose classified information and possibly sources and methods of gathering that information;
    Schiff says the memo is undermining the trust between Congress and the intelligence community;
    Democrats have also written a memo to debunk the Nunes memo, but as far as I know the HPSCI hasn’t allowed its release.
    FBI and DOJ have said the oppose the release of the memo.
    Rep. Schiff claims that Nunes changed the memo after it was voted on to be released. In other words, the memo sent to the WH is different from the one the committee voted on releasing.
  • Some important facts and information

    Definition: FISA = Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act. From the little I understand, this is the law that allows and sets up procedures for how US government will conduct surveillance against foreign or domestic enemies. The standard for surveiling a U.S. citizen (USPER) is higher.

    Here’s a good thread that covers some of the process to extend a FISA warrant(?), including comments on details regarding to Carter Page situation:

    I believe US IC started monitoring Page in 2013. There are reports that they warned Page that Russian spies may be trying to turn him into an asset. Page kept meeting with suspected Russian spies after.

    I’m going to include a section about what some individuals have said about the memo. If the memo is released, we can look back and evaluate these statements.

    Paul Ryan

    John Kelly (Chief of Staff)

    Not sure if the above is true, but if it is, Kelly is really put his reputation on the line, here.

    Consequences

    (If Trump, Nunes correct, et al.,)

    DOJ/FBI/IC inappropriately spying on Americans.
    Politicizing DOJ/FBI–investigating Trump to try and take him down

    (If Schiff, et al., correct)

    References

    From Just Security Five Questions the Nunes Memo Better Answer

    One thought on “Political Scorecard: the Nunes Memo

    1. McCarthy’s claims mirror the claims made by Devin Nunes.

      Some excerpts from the rebuttal to McCarthy and Nunes:

      McCarthy claims that the FBI was not permitted to rely solely on hearsay information provided by Steele, its source of information, but rather was required to test the credibility of, and reliance on, each sub-source who gave information to Steele. But that is simply not what is required in FISA applications (or criminal wiretap applications), and in particular under the Woods Procedures that govern FISA applications. Under FISA, “verification” simply requires both the FBI and lawyers in the Department of Justice to verify that the facts as set forth in the affidavit are supported by evidence obtained as part of the investigation. That does not mean, however, that the FBI is required, for example, to travel to Russia to interview a sub-source to confirm that the sub-source actually did tell Steele what Steele reported to the FBI. That, of course, almost certainly would not be possible. It is therefore not surprising that McCarthy cites no authority for his assertion that such a step is required.

      The reason why hearsay information is permitted in warrant applications is simple: It is hard enough for law enforcement to develop sources who can infiltrate criminal organizations or foreign threats to our national security. If the FBI were required to not only learn of the information from its own sources but also confirm that information with the sub-sources, it would not be able to do its job. Instead, the FBI is legally entitled to rely upon the assertions of a previously credible source, such as Steele, in relaying information from other sub-sources to whom the FBI does not have direct access.

      and later,

      While information from a source such as Steele’s more than meets this probable cause standard, that is clearly not all that the warrant relied upon. Just from what we can see in unredacted form — and the majority of the application is redacted — it also walks through Page’s interactions several years ago with Russians who were eventually charged with being agents of Russian intelligence. McCarthy somehow claims that he knows that the redacted sections do not corroborate or add to Steele’s information. But he misses the point. Even if the specific details in the Steele dossier are not directly confirmed, the fact that other evidence unrelated to the dossier corroborates the dossier’s main allegations is sufficient to support a finding of probable cause.

      Edit

      CNN first reported in May how Nunes, after threatening Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein with contempt of Congress for failing to produce an unredacted copy of the document formally authorizing the FBI’s investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 US election, opted not to read it when it was sitting in front of him. CNN reported at the time that Nunes had not read the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act application and other classified materials he had demanded.
      Yet Nunes refused to say Monday whether he had read the FISA materials when asked — and attacked CNN instead.
      Asked Wednesday by CNN why he still hasn’t read the documents, Nunes declined to respond.
      “You already know the answer,” he said.

      Note: Both Rep. Nunes and Rep. Goodlatte recommend the release of unredacted FISA documents. I interpret this to mean that they believe there is damning evidence that will vindicate Trump and Republicans. If this proves true, then they’re vindicated. If not, they’re credibility should plummet. (Nunes’s credibility is close to zero right now.)

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