The Nunes Memo Was A Complete Dud

Contrary to the claims that were made by conservatives and Trump supporters before its release, the memo prepared by Congressman Devin Nunes has done nothing to undermine the Russia investigation.

Prior to last week’s release of the memorandum prepared by House Intelligence Committee Chairman Devin Nunes regarding the request made by the Federal Bureau of Investigation to conduct surveillance on former Trump campaign aide Carter Page based on evidence of his ties to Russia, many on the right were claiming that the memorandum would end up being a “bombshell.” Principally, of course, they claimed that would undermine the credibility of the bureau and of the investigation into Russian interference in the election and contacts between the Trump campaign and people connected to the Russian government. As Niall Stanage points out today in The Hill, one week after the memo was released it’s clear that it was a complete dud:

The GOP memo alleging FBI and Department of Justice (DOJ) misdeeds, emanating from House Intelligence Committee Chairman Devin Nunes (R-Calif.), has not proved to be the game-changer that some of President Trump’s most ardent supporters had hoped for.

Even before the memo was released last Friday, media reports suggested that even some figures within the White House considered the document underwhelming. That judgment seems to have been borne out, as the memo has begun to fade from the headlines with the political landscape not fundamentally altered.

“I don’t think it is the bombshell it was billed as being,” said Joyce White Vance, a former United States attorney for the Northern District of Alabama.Other experts in the field argue that the memo has actually helped the FBI and DOJ.

For example, it stated that the initial impetus for opening a counterintelligence investigation into the Trump campaign and Russia was not the disputed dossier prepared by a former British spy, Christopher Steele.

Steele was employed by Fusion GPS, which was in turn being paid in part by the Democratic National Committee and Hillary Clinton’s campaign. But the probe had been opened because of separate suggestions of Russian meddling emanating from former Trump campaign adviser George Papadopoulos, according to the Nunes memo, though Steele approached the FBI around the same time.

The memo “helps the FBI and the DOJ rather than advance the conspiracy theory that is being advanced by Nunes,” said Jimmy Gurulé, a former assistant attorney general who served in senior law enforcement positions under Republican and Democratic presidents.

“I don’t think it is the bombshell it was billed as being,” said Joyce White Vance, a former United States attorney for the Northern District of Alabama.Other experts in the field argue that the memo has actually helped the FBI and DOJ.

For example, it stated that the initial impetus for opening a counterintelligence investigation into the Trump campaign and Russia was not the disputed dossier prepared by a former British spy, Christopher Steele.

Steele was employed by Fusion GPS, which was in turn being paid in part by the Democratic National Committee and Hillary Clinton’s campaign. But the probe had been opened because of separate suggestions of Russian meddling emanating from former Trump campaign adviser George Papadopoulos, according to the Nunes memo, though Steele approached the FBI around the same time.

The memo “helps the FBI and the DOJ rather than advance the conspiracy theory that is being advanced by Nunes,” said Jimmy Gurulé, a former assistant attorney general who served in senior law enforcement positions under Republican and Democratic presidents.

The reality of what the Nunes memo actually said became apparent quickly after it was released. While President Trump claimed that the memorandum’s supposed revelations regarding the application that the F.B.I. made under the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act to conduct surveillance of former Trump campaign aide Carter Page “totally vindicates” him in the Russia probe, it obviously does no such thing. The primary piece of evidence in this regard, of course, was contained in the memo itself, which acknowledged that the F.B.I.’s Russia investigation actually began several months prior to the request for the warrant against Page and happened as a result of a conversation that yet another Trump campaign associate, George Papadopoulos, had with an Australian diplomat. During that conversation, which occurred around the same time as the now famous June 2016 Trump Tower meeting between Trump campaign associates and a Russian lawyer with links to the Putin government, Papadopoulos told the diplomat that he had been told by a Kremlin conduct that the Russian government had “dirt” on Hillary Clinton. That information eventually made its way to the Bureau, and it was at that point that the investigation was opened. Papadopoulos has since pled guilty to a charge of lying to the F.B.I.. and is now cooperating with special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation. The memo also doesn’t address that aspect of Mueller’s investigation that involves potential instances of attempts to obstruct justice or at least undermine the Russia investigation that has surfaced in the year since Donald Trump became President. In other words, even if the allegations in the Nunes memo were entirely accurate, and they are not, there is no connection between the surveillance warrant against Page and the underlying investigation now being headed by Bob Mueller.

In addition to failing to vindicate the President as supporters claimed it would, it also turns out that the Nunes memo was woefully incomplete and in many respects misrepresented the truth about the FISA warrant it was supposed to summarize. The central claim of the memorandum, and the one thing that supporters of the President pointed to most aggressively immediately after it was released, was that the warrant against Page was based primarily upon a dossier prepared by a former MI6 agent who was working for a company called Fusion GPS that had received funding from the Democratic National Committee and the Clinton campaign. While it is true that Fusion GPS did receive this funding and that the funding was, at least in part, meant to pay for background research about Trump, it was also true that the initial funding for what became the so-called “Steele Dossier” came from the Washington Free Beacon, a conservative news and opinion website that was opposed to Trump during the race for the GOP nomination. Not only doesn’t the Nunes memo not disclose that last fact, it also apparently misstated the truth in its claim that the roots of the Steele Dossier as what essentially amounts to opposition research was not disclosed to the FISA Court when the warrant application. In reality, several reports after the memo was released have made clear that the political motivations behind the document were disclosed to the court. The memo also claimed that the Steele Dossier was the primary piece of evidence supporting the probable cause application for the memo. While we can’t be sure unless and until the underlying warrant application itself is released, which may not be possible without significant redactions of classified material, it does appear that the Bureau had far more than just the Steele Dossier to support its initial warrant application as well as the three renewals that were granted over the year after October 2016. Given these significant factual omissions and outright misstatements, the veracity of the entire Nunes memo seems to have been completely undermined.

With the Nunes memo thoroughly discredited, attention is now turning to what comes next. Earlier this week, the House Intelligence Committee voted to allow the release a rebuttal memorandum prepared by Democratic Congressman Adam Schiff, the Committee’s ranking member. That memo is currently before the President for the same review that was conducted prior to the release of the Nunes memo, but it isn’t presently clear what action President Trump will take with regard to it. As with the Nunes memorandum, he could choose to do a number of things. The first option would be to allow its release in its current form and send it back to the Committee for further action as he did with the initial memo two weeks ago, or he could release it through the White House. Alternatively, he could order redactions in the name of “national security,” or he could block the release of the rebuttal memo at all. Either of the last actions, of course, would quickly lead to charges that he was using the excuse of national security to block the release of a memo that is likely to prove to be politically embarrassing at the very least, but it’s unclear if he would care about that.

All of this means, of course, that the Nunes memo ended up being far less impressive than the pre-release hype that was being spread by conservative media and the #ReleaseTheMemo hashtag on Twitter, at least part of which was energized by bots and propaganda sites that appear to be Russian in origin. In fact, instead of undermining the Russia investigation it’s arguably the case that the controversy that the memo has caused has only guaranteed that it will expand and will last longer than many on the right seem to think.

 

FILED UNDER: Congress, Donald Trump, Intelligence, National Security, Politicians, US Politics, , , , , , , ,
Doug Mataconis
About Doug Mataconis
Doug holds a B.A. in Political Science from Rutgers University and J.D. from George Mason University School of Law. He joined the staff of OTB in May 2010. Before joining OTB, he wrote at Below The BeltwayThe Liberty Papers, and United Liberty Follow Doug on Twitter | Facebook

Comments

  1. al-Ameda says:

    Very good opinion piece Doug, but it looks like a fair amount of damage is done. Actual truth does not matter here. The Right has gleefully run with this, and they’re still selling a ‘Deep State’ conspiracy that went after Trump the candidate and even now, is going after Trump the president.

    When I watch the evening wrap ups on CNN, MSNBC and FoxNews (I channel surf over there too) it is pretty obvious that the Nunes Memo has revved up the Trump Base and the Main Stream Conservative Media Establishment. Nunes, having done his job here, has of course threatened to that his next job will be weed-whacking the State Department to bring to our attention ‘Deep State’ activities to take down Trump.

    This is going to go on indefinitely.




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  2. michael reynolds says:

    It was never anything more than Nunes desperately looking for a way to ingratiate himself with his master. Good little doggie brought master a stick and got a pat on the head.

    The entire theory the GOP is advancing is utter nonsense. Targets of criminal investigations don’t get to dismiss evidence because some of the investigating officers have expressed a dislike for them. Were that theory to prevail, every defendant would have a legal right to challenge cops on grounds that at some point they said something about the defendant. Something like, “I think this guy is a criminal.” If this theory prevailed we’d never be able to convict anyone of anything. Prisons would empty out.

    The fact that so many Trumpaloons buy this nonsense is proof of just how poor their judgment and intellectual function is. No wonder they vote for a two-bit con man.




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  3. SenyorDave says:

    @al-Ameda: I agree that the Nunes memo has pretty much accomplished what they want. I do think that is partially why Trump’s approval rating has gone up marginally. Sad commentary that it works on 40% of the country.




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  4. MarkedMan says:

    If I were a bettin’ man I would say that the White House does nothing with the Democratic memo, until the press starts to notice that they are stalling. Then there will be weeks worth of “We are studying this carefully”, “We are asking for revisions”, and “We are making reactions due to national security, as we take our responsibilities seriously”. Finally, they will release a version of the memo so heavily redacted as to be worthless and immediately start attacking the Dems for risking national security. Nonsense, of course, but Fox News and other idiot Republicans will run with it full speed.




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  5. grumpy realist says:

    OT, but did anyone see this?

    So all the “Northern Europeans had pasty white skin” stuff has turned out to be bollocks. Cue the whining from the Usual Suspects (a.k.a. alt-right). Chortle.




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  6. Mike in Arlington says:

    @MarkedMan: I thought there was a 5 day window during which the president could make his decision to declassify the document.




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  7. Bob The Arqubusier says:

    The memo had some very interesting things, for those who were willing to see them.

    1) The FISA Court was told that the Steele dossier had a “political” source, but that was all the detail provided. The Court was not told that it was bought and paid for by Hillary Clinton, who (through a law firm) hired Fusion GPS to dig up the dirt. And Fusion GPS hired a foreign agent who had been fired from working for the FBI to get the dirt from Russian sources. Fusion GPS was also working to get rid of the Magnitsky Act, which is the source of the most painful sanctions on Russia. Fusion GPS also has apparently only six employees, one of which is “Russian expert” Nellie Ohr, the wife of DOJ official Benjamin Orr.

    Oh, and the Steele dossier was corroborated by a news report in Yahoo! News, by a reporter whose main source was Christopher Steele.

    When the DOJ goes for a FISA warrant, they are supposed to tell the Court all the relevant information — not just the stuff that supports them. Omitted from the warrant applications:

    1) The source of the Steele dossier wasn’t just a “political figure,” but the candidate running against Trump.

    2) The collator of the dossier had worked for the FBI until he was fired for bragging to the press about his working for the FBI.

    3) The company that hired Steele was actively working to repeal the Magnitsky Act.

    4) The “second source” that corroborated Steele’s report was, ultimately, Steele himself.

    All those people who signed off on those FISA warrant applications and extensions… did they know the fraud they were perpetrating on the Court? Or were they just patsies?

    And isn’t it interesting how the Hillary campaign was the one that was actually colluding with foreign agents (Steele and his Russian “contacts,” who I’m totally sure did NOT inform Putin’s government that they were working with Steele to influence the American presidential election and did NOT vet everything they gave to Steele with Putin’s people and certainly did NOT just pass along whatever Putin’s people told them to) to win the election?

    It’s all right there, if you’re willing to see it. Pity so many are so wedded to their own narrative that they won’t let themselves see.




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  8. JKB says:

    Lots of BS on both sides. Neither does the Nunes’ memo live up to the “end of democracy as we know it” hype of Democrats or the senior FBI officials who are now revealed.

    The memo was a small charge that now appears to have been properly placed at the base of the dam. More cracks are appearing. As I said when the memo came out, it is a slow burn as knowledgeable prosecutors and investigators weigh in on the proper evidence for a warrant. That is happening.

    I recommend listening to this interview with Congressman Trey Gowdy, who is one of the few people who have reviewed the whole FISA file and is also an experienced in applying for warrants that hold up in court. Full acknowledgement, Gowdy does rain on the parade of those who think the FISA warrant scandal negates Mueller’s investigation.




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  9. KM says:

    @michael reynolds:

    Targets of criminal investigations don’t get to dismiss evidence because some of the investigating officers have expressed a dislike for them.

    Yep. If I call in my asshole neighbor that’s beating his children in broad daylight, he doesn’t get a pass on child abuse because I’ve called him a SOB on the 911 call. Furthermore, even *if* they were right and Hillary’s dirty AF, it doesn’t clear him at all since criminals drop the dime on others every damn day with no judgement implied. In fact, we go out of our way to flip people and get informants *because* they have all the dirt.

    It’s utterly childish logic – someone’s “mean” to you, therefore they are the worst of the worst and nothing they say matters anymore. Somebody you don’t like says something so it automatically can never be true. It’s like they’re all 5 and still stuck in kindergarten.




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  10. James Pearce says:

    @al-Ameda:

    This is going to go on indefinitely.

    Funny….when I say it, I get tomatoes.




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  11. KM says:

    @Bob The Arqubusier:

    But does any of that disprove the dossier?

    Again, none of these facts do anything to suggest innocence on anyone’s behalf. The content of the dossier is proving remarkably accurate regardless of it’s source. Y’all keep harping that “because it came from Hillary” it’s automatically suspect but refuse to follow the logic train to the next question: well, is it true or not? As for where the “political source” should have been disclosed as the DNC, that would have been potentially false info since this whole mess was started by the RNC. Both paid for this info and so both should have been listed.

    The courts certainly saw enough to think it was valid. Even Trump’s own Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein renewed it based on what was there. Unless you can prove something illegal was done to obtain the info, nothing presented to the courts was in violation. You are attacking the source of the info while conveniently ignoring the info itself. This is like listening to a mobster complain the feds shouldn’t have been talking to his rivals for dirt.




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  12. Jake says:
  13. Bob The Arqubusier says:

    @KM: But does any of that disprove the dossier?

    The burden of proof isn’t on anyone to disprove the dossier, it’s on the backers to prove it. And some of it had already been proven to be false — it claims that Trump attorney Michael Cohen met with Putin representatives in Prague, while Mr. Cohen absolutely declares that he’s never even been to Prague — and every record available seems to back that up.

    Some trivial stuff is true, but all the big stuff is either unproven or shown false. With that in mind, you have to consider the credibility of the people who are presenting it — and they’ve shown that they are not to be trusted on this matter.




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  14. michael reynolds says:

    @Bob The Arqubusier:
    I almost envy you. When Mueller’s report comes out it’ll all be old news to me. But for you it will all be new and shiny.




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  15. Gustopher says:

    Meanwhile, the Department of Homeland Security is acknowledging that the Russians penetrated voting systems in “an extremely small number of states”

    https://www.nbcnews.com/politics/elections/russians-penetrated-u-s-voter-systems-says-top-u-s-n845721




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  16. Franklin says:

    @grumpy realist: Ha, are you going to believe those elitist anthropologists?




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  17. Daryl's other brother Darryl says:

    @Bob The Arqubusier:
    J E N O S…conspiracy theory poster child.
    You were banned…take your nonsense and leave.




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  18. Daryl's other brother Darryl says:

    @JKB:
    Don’t you mean Trey “BENGHAZI!!! Gowdy?
    Who the fvck cares what that partisan water boys says?




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  19. Mike in Arlington says:

    @Bob The Arqubusier: But the memo acknowledged that the FBI’s suspicion and investigation began with a tip about Papadopolous, not with the dossier. So even if it was disproved, the FBI’s suspicions of the Trump campaign were still supported by other evidence.

    Even ignoring Papadopolous, the FBI had a lot of reasons to be interested in Carter Page.
    Carter Page was already on the FBI’s metaphorical radar because Russian agents attempted to recruit him in 2013.
    https://www.nytimes.com/2017/04/04/us/politics/carter-page-trump-russia.html

    Months later he touted his role as an advisor to the Kremlin in a letter.
    http://time.com/5132126/carter-page-russia-2013-letter/

    And in 2016, ge continued to express interest in business and research opportunities in Russia.
    https://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/memo-points-to-fbis-ongoing-interest-in-trump-adviser-carter-page/2018/02/02/89bfdee2-077c-11e8-8777-2a059f168dd2_story.html




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  20. MarkedMan says:

    @Mike in Arlington: I hadn’t heard that. What happens if he makes no decision?




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  21. Kathy says:

    I’m about to reach the point where I believe King Donald could rape his daughter live on TV while he strangles a puppy, and his supporters would blame Hillary Clinton.




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  22. JKB says:

    @Daryl’s other brother Darryl: Who the fvck cares what that partisan water boys says?

    That pretty much sums up Doug’s entire post. He really need to read sources other than the NY Time, even the Washington Post would burst the bubble every once in a while.

    But in this case, Gowdy is the member of Congress, not staffer, who read the file, took the notes and reviewed the memo.

    Unlike Steele and his dossier of collected hearsay, Gowdy is an actual source with direct knowledge.




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  23. JKB says:

    @Kathy:

    I do believe that Queen Hillary could expose classified information to foreign adversaries by keeping it on a private, unsecured server while selling influence through her “foundation” and her supporters would still blame Donald Trump.




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  24. Just 'nutha ig'nint cracker says:

    @al-Ameda: Exactly! The memo was never for “us” but always for the Trumpen proletariat. They needed to see in print (although given their literacy/reading level, I wonder why) the *smoking gun* that *proves conclusively* that Trump has always been the victim here.

    As for the truth, it’s dead and buried for Conservatives long ago.

    “As it was in the beginning, is now, and shall be forever”




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  25. Just 'nutha ig'nint cracker says:

    @James Pearce: It’s not that statement that get you the tomatoes; it’s the paragraph of pompous, condescending droning that comes before.




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  26. michael reynolds says:

    @JKB:
    And yet that did not actually happen. Zero classified info was given to the Russians by Hillary.

    However, Trump spilled Israeli intel to the Russians in the Oval. Trump asked Russia to commit a criminal act of hacking against Hillary. Trump hired as his National Security advisor a man compromised by both Russia and Turkey. Trump hired as campaign manager a man implicated in money-laundering for the Russians and others. Trump has kept on several people who cannot get security clearances and yet have access to top secret information, such as Kushner and now the wife-beater.

    TL;DR: STFU.




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  27. michael reynolds says:

    @JKB:
    Oh, and let’s not forget rump’s vendetta against the very forces we hire to keep us secure: the FBI and CIA. Trump attacks the people who resist Russian intelligence penetration and manipulation, while never uttering a word of condemnation of Putin.

    If he isn’t a Russian mole, why does he keep acting as if he is?




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  28. Kathy says:

    I do want to make one thing clear.

    I’m not upset that Clinton didn’t win the election. I’m upset that Trump didn’t lose.




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  29. Not the IT Dept. says:

    It’s always fun when J***E****N****O****S****’ multiple personalities come out and talk among themselves.




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  30. Jake says:
  31. James Pearce says:

    @grumpy realist:

    So all the “Northern Europeans had pasty white skin” stuff has turned out to be bollocks. Cue the whining from the Usual Suspects (a.k.a. alt-right).

    Something tells me that the Teutonic racists who trace their origins to Anglo-Saxon “greatness” aren’t really going to be whining too much about this news.

    @Just ‘nutha ig’nint cracker:

    it’s the paragraph of pompous, condescending droning that comes before.

    Maybe, but then I’d have to be more pompous and condescending than other people…and I’m not.

    You know what I think it is? I think it’s a little bit of “I hate you for changing my mind.”




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  32. al-Ameda says:

    @James Pearce:

    Funny….when I say it, I get tomatoes.

    Yes but I bribed my fellow OTB bloggers.
    Have you tried that?




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  33. al-Ameda says:

    @JKB:

    I do believe that Queen Hillary could expose classified information to foreign adversaries by keeping it on a private, unsecured server while selling influence through her “foundation” and her supporters would still blame Donald Trump.

    Wait, didn’t one the 1 or 12 investigations of this private unsecured email server bullsh** uncover exactly that?




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  34. wr says:

    @James Pearce: “Maybe, but then I’d have to be more pompous and condescending than other people…and I’m not. You know what I think it is? I think it’s a little bit of “I hate you for changing my mind.”

    Ladies and gentlemen, I give you… the least self-aware human being on the internet!




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  35. Bob The Arqubusier says:

    @JKB: I like your style. Mind if I borrow it?

    Hillary could allow classified material to end up in the possession of a disgraced former pol and pedophile, and her supporters would still blame Donald Trump.

    Hillary could hire a smear firm to dig up dirt on Trump from Russia — the same firm Russia hired to get rid of sanctions against Russia — and her supporters would still blame Donald Trump.

    Hillary could let her two top aides lie in interviews to the FBI, and her supporters would still blame Trump.

    Hillary could delete tens of thousands of documents under Congressional subpoena, insist that they were all just “personal and private” — just trust her! — and her supporters would still blame Trump.

    Wow, that is fun. And, unlike their little flights of fantasy, I can back up each and every one of them as factual.




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  36. KM says:

    Shorter @JKB and @Bob The Arqubusier:

    “But but but Mommy, Billy did it too! I swear, he did! Why am *I* in trouble? I know I’m standing in front of the broken window with the baseball bat but he’s the one that tattled! Also, I heard Billy’s broke his mom’s window last year so you can’t punish me! Go yell at Billy!”

    I repeat, kindergarten logic. It didn’t get you out of trouble then and it won’t save your ass now. Pointing fingers at others doesn’t exonerate yourself. You people can bleat “Hillary, Hillary” all day long but her sins do not pardon Trump’s. Right now she’s a goddamned nobody and he’s the POTUS so why do you keep acting like she’s the one that’s the crisis?




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  37. Steve V says:

    The memo wasn’t just a dud, it was an exercise in bad faith.

    I know someone else pointed out that “Clinton Cash” appears to have been the basis for a congressional investigation, but can I also add that IRCC wasn’t opposition research the basis of Whitewater (or if not oppo research, it came from Bill Clinton’s political opponents)? By the way did anyone ever report on the political affiliations of Ken Starr’s team?




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  38. James Pearce says:

    @al-Ameda:

    Yes but I bribed my fellow OTB bloggers.

    Dang it…I already blew my bribe budget on the Super Bowl.

    @wr:

    Ladies and gentlemen, I give you… the least self-aware human being on the internet!

    No, that would be Logan Paul.

    But gotta say, I really love how I’m always “Here’s what I think and why I think it” and you’re just all “You’re a horrible person.” The long and short of it is that you can always argue with me, but what can I say to you?




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  39. Bob The Arqubusier says:

    @KM: You really gotta work on your reading comprehension.

    What I’m saying is “Not only has no one shown any proof that Trump did it, but it turns out that all that crap everyone yelled about was stuff Hillary did!”

    It’s an old, tired tactic — accuse the other side of doing what your side is doing. That way, when it comes out, you can just say it’s sour grapes or to quoque or projection or whatever.

    Which doesn’t change the fact that Hillary colluded with Russia to swing the election, but whatever.

    (For the clue-impaired: Hillary hired the very same smear firm to dig up dirt on Trump from Russia that Russia hired to get sanctions lifted — Fusion GPS. And Fusion GPS, apparently, only had six employees at the time — including the wife of a high-ranking Justice Department official (Bruce Ohr, recently demoted at the DOJ, married to Nellie Ohr) to be a “Russia expert.” Can we say “synergy,” boys and girls?)

    Yes, that’s right: Hillary’s campaign and the DNC (which Hillary’s campaign owned in all but name) hired the law firm Perkins Coie to then hire Fusion GPS for dirt on Trump, and Fusion GPS was also working very hard to get the Magnitsky Act repealed, which imposes some very nasty sanctions on Russia.

    But that’s not collusion, because SHUT UP or something.




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  40. Daryl's other brother Darryl says:

    @Bob The Arqubusier:

    the fact that Hillary colluded with Russia

    Dude…call the nurse and tell him/her that they forgot your meds.
    They might bring you some jello too!!!




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  41. Bob The Arqubusier says:

    @Daryl’s other brother Darryl: Speaking of projection, that’s one real prime case of it you got going there…




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  42. James Pearce says:

    @Bob The Arqubusier:

    But that’s not collusion, because SHUT UP or something.

    The problem with the “But what about Hillary” stuff is that Hillary lost the election and is not the president.




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  43. Bob The Arqubusier says:

    @James Pearce: So, colluding with Russia to swing the US presidential election is OK as long as you don’t win?




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  44. James Pearce says:

    @Bob The Arqubusier:

    So, colluding with Russia to swing the US presidential election is OK as long as you don’t win?

    Trump supporters think it’s okay even if you win.




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  45. Just 'nutha ig'nint cracker says:

    @James Pearce:

    Maybe, but then I’d have to be more pompous and condescending than other people…and I’m not.

    From a sociolingustic or psycholinguistic standpoint, what you think isn’t the case because almost no one realizes how their own tone is interpreted by others (hint) and, even if they do realize, they will always interpret the pomposity of others as a greater fault. It’s in our genes and psyches.




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  46. Just 'nutha ig'nint cracker says:

    @Just ‘nutha ig’nint cracker: Just look, for example, at Bob/he who shall not be named/JayTea.




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  47. Mikey says:

    @James Pearce:

    The problem with the “But what about Hillary” stuff is that Hillary lost the election and is not the president.

    That, and it’s all utter bullshit.




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  48. gVOR08 says:

    @michael reynolds:

    It was never anything more than Nunes desperately looking for a way to ingratiate himself with his master.

    There may be a good deal more to it. Nunes was part of the transition tam. It may not be Trump he’s protecting.




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  49. James Pearce says:

    @Just ‘nutha ig’nint cracker:

    no one realizes how their own tone is interpreted by others

    I’m more concerned with word-choice than tone, and aesthetically I like strong, direct words, which results in a strong, direct tone. It’s not for everybody –I get that– but, man, you’d think there would be a little more room for it in a political discussion amongst adults.

    @Mikey:

    it’s all utter bullshit

    Of course. The only valid criticisms of Hillary Clinton come from me.




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  50. Mikey says:

    @James Pearce: There are many valid criticisms of her, how she ran her campaign, etc. A Venn diagram containing those valid criticisms and the garbage the GOP emits would be two circles a mile apart.




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  51. MBunge says:

    What undermines the Russian investigation is….

    1. There’s STILL no evidence of collusion between the Trump campaign and the Russian government.

    2. There’s STILL no evidence that anything Russia did or is accused of doing actually affected the election.

    I understand that a lot of folks were overwhelmed by class anxiety when Trump won but that was over 14 months ago. It’s time to get a grip.

    Mike




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  52. Bob The Arqubusier says:

    @michael reynolds: And yet that did not actually happen. Zero classified info was given to the Russians by Hillary.

    Congratulations, you just answered a question nobody is asking.

    The point people keep making is that, by running her own server that routinely handled classified material and eschewing government servers, she made it so easy for foreign powers to get ahold of them, she might as well just given it to them directly.

    For all the things she’s said about that server, she’s never addressed the most fundamental question: Why?

    Why did she refuse to use her government-issue email account, on a goverment-owned and government-run server, and instead exclusively use one where she controlled it? Why did she go to the time, effort, and expense to duplicate something her office already provided for her? What advantages did she perceive that outweighed the concerns?

    Since she won’t answer, I’ll speculate and offer an explanation that fits the known facts better than anything she’s offered.

    Hillary wanted to control her email server because she was more afraid of her political enemies getting access to them than she was worried about our nation’s enemies getting access to them. She wanted to deny anyone access to her correspondence (even though they were, legally, government property and those enemies had every legal right to review them) because she didn’t want anyone looking into her business. The fact that they were almost certainly hacked by foreign powers was a lesser concern to her; she wanted the power to control access to them and, if she deemed it necessary, to destroy them.

    That’s my theory, and Hillary certainly hasn’t offered a more plausible explanation.

    You’re the celebrated fabulist. Why don’t you offer a plausible reason for why Hillary set up that server? I’d be curious if even your celebrated imagination is up to that challenge.




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  53. Bob The Arqubusier says:

    One final point: that female Russian lawyer who met with Donald Trump Jr. under false pretenses? She’s an interesting one.

    She was initially denied a visa to enter the United States, but Obama’s State Department granted her a special waiver to come to the US.

    She has focused on repealing the Magnitsky Act, the law that imposes some truly uncomfortable sanctions on Russia.

    Immediately before and immediately after her meeting with Trump Jr., she was seen with the founder of Fusion GPS, the smear merchants who were 1) also working on getting the Magnitsky Act repealed, and 2) hired by Hillary’s campaign to dig up dirt on Trump in Russia.

    Now, my own little venture into speculative fiction:

    * * * * *

    Scene: FBI Headquarters

    “Johnson! Get in here!”

    “Yes, sir? Got a new assignment for me?”

    “Top priority, Johnson. There are all these rumors about Russia interfering with the presidential election, and even colluding with one of the candidates. Get on it immediately!”

    “Yes, sir!”

    (Time passes)

    “Well, Johnson? What have you found?”

    “Quite a bit, sir. Nothing totally conclusive, but a whole lot of shady connections between Hillary Clinton and the Russians. And there are quite a few signs that she worked to keep that a secret — in one case, she used both a law firm and this shady influence-peddling firm as cutouts.”

    “Huh. And what about Trump?”

    “Oh, some minor things, but nothing that looks like anything big. Hell, half of it is just as plausible as a setup as an actual ploy. But the Hillary stuff… that definitely rates more digging.”

    “Now listen here, Johnson. When I said ‘get on it,’ I meant ‘go get me some proof that Trump sold out to Putin.’ Now get rid of that phony-baloney stuff about Hillary and get back out there!”

    “But sir, I looked real hard. And if we’re going to spend the effort investigating, there’s a lot more evidence pointing at Hillary than at Trump. We really…”

    “Johnson, get out there and do as you’re told. Right now I have to figure out who I need to transfer to be the new junior agent in our Alaska field office, and if you’re still here in five seconds, you’re going to the top of the list.”

    “Gee, I’ve always wanted to see Alaska…”

    “Did I say Alaska? I meant New Mexico. Deep in the desert New Mexico. And then I have to appoint a new attache to the embassy in Libya. Plus there’s a vacancy opening in Cuba — last guy had to retire medically because of hearing problems. And our guy in Venezuela just came down with cholera. You interested in seeing any of those places, Johnson?”

    “Um… no, sir.”

    “Then get out of here and focus on Trump! And don’t come back unless you have the goods!”

    * * * * *

    So, mickey, wanna hook me up with your agent?




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  54. JKB says:

    BTW, we are seeing a sudden surge in Comey cronies and other on the executive floor of the FBI finding a desire to spend more time with family or on sudden terminal leave.

    I’m beginning to think the Nunes’ memo was for the benefit of the rank and file investigators. To reveal, with a paper trail, the, uhm, irregularities in the warrant applications. This would give logical reason for the sudden rework of the top ranks. One wonders what the DOJ/FBI IG report is going to reveal? Perhaps we’ll not see it, but it will be “known” around the agency and explain the sudden departure syndrome breaking out.




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  55. HarvardLaw92 says:

    @MBunge:

    You clearly have no idea how special investigations work. Mueller has a broad mandate to essentially investigate whatever he likes.

    It’s how you get from investigating a real estate deal to pursuing perjury over responses about extramarital sex.

    Collusion is the key that opened the door. Now that that’s been accomplished, few people truly care about it: because it’s presumed by pretty much everybody that the interference occurred (so whether Trump was involved in it doesn’t matter in the least).

    Let me educate you on how this plays out: the takeaways will be:

    Indictments for perjury
    Indictments for false statements
    RICO indictments for money laundering, et al

    That last one is a killer

    They went after Al Capone for murder. They imprisoned him for tax evasion. Why? Because they could and it achieved the objective. His behind still rotted in prison. His career never recovered.

    So: for the learning impaired … the objective isn’t necessarily to get Trump for collusion.

    The objective is to get Trump. On something.

    And they will. Mueller’s team is as good as it gets in this business.




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  56. HarvardLaw92 says:

    @Bob The Arqubusier:

    Helpful hint: Clinton lost. Nobody gives a damn any longer what she did or didn’t do. Whataboutism doesn’t save Trump from Trump.

    Strange how those endless Benghazi investigations suddenly, well…

    Ended

    No? 🙂




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  57. rachel says:

    @Kathy: While simultaneously lauding his ability to multitask.




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  58. Bob The Arqubusier says:

    @HarvardLaw92: My, what a stunning admission:

    Collusion is the key that opened the door. Now that that’s been accomplished, few people truly care about it: because it’s presumed by pretty much everybody that the interference occurred (so whether Trump was involved in it doesn’t matter in the least).

    So, the whole “collusion” accusation was, from the outset, merely an excuse to get a special prosecutor appointed, who then would have free rein to look into anything and everything Trump? That he has essentially unlimited power to dig and dig and dig until he finds something to get Trump?

    That ain’t how the system is supposed to work.

    In fact, it’s a gross perversion of how the system is supposed to work.

    However, it ties in quite nicely with Comey’s admission that he illegally leaked his memo to his buddy the law professor with the intent of getting a special prosecutor appointed — specifically, his old buddy Mueller.

    Hey, isn’t there a law or something that says special prosecutors should not have any close, personal ties to any of the major parties to the investigation? Like, say, the long-standing personal and professional relationship between Comey and Mueller? Or is that one of the rules that doesn’t apply because it’s Trump, and doing whatever is needed to get rid of him is a Greater Good?

    Oh, and the Capone comparison fails — in Capone’s case, there were a slew of unsolved crimes at the core. In Trump’s case, it’s very Stalinist — “show me the man and I’ll find you the crime.”

    Finally, you have a bit of a “tell.” Whenever you say “nobody cares,” you’re admitting that the other side has a perfectly valid point, but you still have to find some way to dismiss it.




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  59. Bob The Arqubusier says:

    @HarvardLaw92: Another stunning admission.

    Then: “Trump colluded with Russia to win the election, and that’s terrible! We need a special prosecutor!”

    Now: “So Trump didn’t collude with Russia, but Hillary did? So what? We have our special prosecutor for Trump, and he’ll find SOMETHING on him!”

    But those who call it a “slow-motion coup” are paranoid or something…

    The more established rules you trash, the fewer rules there are to protect you when the other side decides they don’t apply to them, either.

    “Nobody gives a damn any longer…” I think I’m going to have to keep that quote handy.




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  60. Bob The Arqubusier says:

    @Kathy: @rachel: How droll. You should run a “Trump could XX and his supporters wouldn’t care” contest for the most outrageous examples.

    It wouldn’t work the other way around. All we have to do is cite actual things Hillary said or did.




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  61. al-Ameda says:

    @Bob The Arqubusier:

    So, the whole “collusion” accusation was, from the outset, merely an excuse to get a special prosecutor appointed, who then would have free rein to look into anything and everything Trump? That he has essentially unlimited power to dig and dig and dig until he finds something to get Trump?

    We can settle this so easily:
    Let’s ask Ken Starr how he managed to keep the scope of his 5-plus year investigation into the entire life and times of Bill Clinton so narrowly focused.




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  62. James Pearce says:

    @Bob The Arqubusier:

    That ain’t how the system is supposed to work.

    Yeah, it is. If the police get a search warrant to see if you’re growing weed in your basement and stumble upon your sex-slave dungeon….they’re not going to go, “Well, we’re just looking for weed.”

    They’ll get you on the weed and the sex crimes, because yes, that’s how the system is supposed to work.




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  63. HarvardLaw92 says:

    @Bob The Arqubusier:

    Finally, you have a bit of a “tell.”

    Agreed. I have a very difficult time hiding it when I feel a sense of complete contempt for someone.

    “So Trump didn’t collude with Russia …”

    Remains to be seen, but knowing what I know about Trump, it would be the least interesting piece of the case against him.

    The more established rules you trash, the fewer rules there are to protect you when the other side decides they don’t apply to them, either.

    Agreed. See “Whitewater, Clinton, William J.”. What goes around comes around. Enjoy the show, because I promise that it will be one hell of a performance which ends with just a tad more than “he got a BJ and lied about it”.

    I think I’m going to have to keep that quote handy.

    Or, J E N O S, you could just take the hint you were given and find the exit. Doubtful, though, I agree. That would require something that, unfortunately, you don’t possess – a sense of dignity.




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  64. Mikey says:

    And in the least surprising news of the week, Trump has refused to release the Democrats’ rebuttal memo, citing classification concerns.

    This after allowing the Republicans to release their memo, the “declassification” of which was accomplished by doing nothing more than drawing a line through the classification header and footer, while redacting exactly nothing.




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  65. Scott O says:

    @Mikey:
    The Democrats’ rebuttal memo that Trump will agree to release will look something like this.

    Cartoon




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  66. Mikey says:

    @Scott O: I wouldn’t be surprised…every action Trump has taken relative to this investigation has been an action a guilty person would take.




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