“A top House Democrat is challenging the core conclusion of the memo released by House Intelligence Committee Chairman Devin Nunes on Friday, calling the allegation that the Justice Department and FBI withheld key details as they sought a secret surveillance warrant on former Trump adviser Carter Page ‘deliberately misleading and deeply wrong on the law.’”
That was how NBC News opened its report on Saturday, February 3, the day after the House Intelligence Committee chairman released the hotly-debated and long-delayed “FISA memo” that alleges serious abuses by the Obama administration’s Department of Justice and FBI in targeting then-candidate Donald Trump and his campaign team. In keeping with a pattern of activity that we’ve seen since the 2016 election campaign, the Democrats were leaking this memo to their allies at NBC at the very same time that they and their allies in the “intelligence community” were harshly denouncing Chairman Nunes and the Republicans on the House Intelligence Committee for “recklessly” releasing a four-page memo that had been properly declassified and contained no information that would compromise intelligence sources and methods.
“NBC News has exclusively obtained a six-page rebuttal to the Nunes memo from Rep. Jerry Nadler [shown] of New York, the top Democrat on the House Judiciary Committee, which was to be circulated to all House Democrats on Saturday,” NBC News proudly reported. “Given his senior position, Nadler is one of the small number of lawmakers who has viewed the highly sensitive documents that are the basis of Nunes’ memo.”
Before looking at particulars of the Nadler memo, it is worth noting again the method used by Nadler to release it: the strategic Democratic leak delivery system. After holding the Nunes memo hostage for weeks with demands for changes and for a Democratic rebuttal to accompany it, Nadler jumped the gun and released his own rebuttal in order to steal the narrative from the Republicans, which he knew the liberal-left, anti-Trump “mainstream” media would be only too happy to cooperate in. Readers may recall that on January 9, Senator Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) unilaterally and in defiance of the Judiciary Committee chairman released a 312-page transcript of classified testimony of Glenn Simpson, the co-founder and chief executive of Fusion GPS, the opposition research firm that commissioned the infamous “dossier” on Donald Trump by former British intelligence agent Christopher Steele.
The anti-Trump, Clinton-friendly media quickly cherry-picked the Senate Committee transcript and made political hay out of it, especially focusing on two claims that later proved to be false. One was intended to put the Republicans on the defensive by claiming that a source had “already been killed,” supposedly as a result of Republicans making an issue of the dossier. "Somebody’s already been killed as a result of the publication of this dossier and no harm should come to anybody related to this honest work," said the Fusion GPS attorney, according to the transcript. Aside from the fact that it was the Democrats — specifically, the Hillary Clinton campaign and the Democratic National Committee — that paid for compiling the dossier, the Democrats who leaked the dossier to their Democrat friends in the media, and the Democrats who exploited the bogus contents of the dossier in the media for months to promote their unsubstantiated “Trump-Russia collusion” charge, they have provided no evidence that anyone was killed, let alone that anyone was killed as a result of Republican “publication.”
Another claim that reverberated through the media echo chamber was Simpson’s assertion that the FBI had been able to corroborate much of the Fusion GPS/Steele dossier through a “human source” close to Trump. That is another false claim that many Americans may still believe because the media “corrections” — after it was shown to be bogus — have been, as usual, faint to the point of non-existent, in comparison to the blaring headlines that breathlessly heralded the phony story.
The Nadler memo is meant as a pre-emptive strike and place holder, until the “official” rebuttal from the Democrats on the House Intelligence Committee comes out. Both Democrats and Republicans on the committee voted to declassify the Democratic memo on Monday, but, as with the Republican majority memo, the Democrat minority memo must go first to President Trump for review before publication. The president then has five days to conduct a national security review of the document to assure that it does not compromise sources and methods. It could be released by the White House at any time this week. However, Fox News reporter John Roberts tweeted on February 6 that “Sources tell @foxnews that the @AdamSchiffCA memo contains information pertaining to ‘sources and methods’ that will likely require redaction. One source says this was done tactically to force the @realDonaldTrump into making changes — setting up a contrast with GOP memo.”
If Representative Adam Schiff (D-Calif.), the ranking Democrat on the committee, and his colleagues have indeed intentionally seeded their memo with problematic content, then we can expect more rounds of drama, as they pretend that President Trump is treating them unfairly and “obstructing justice.”
Nadler memo — another exercise in misdirection
Now, back to the aforementioned Nadler memo that was released on Saturday. A fairly extensive and incisive critique of the memo is provided by Andrew McCarthy at National Review. McCarthy is one of the hardcore NeverTrumpers among the corral of anti-Trump, neocon writers at the magazine, which has been a longtime Deep State conduit of CIA propaganda, dating back to its founder, William F. Buckley, a member of Yale’s Skull and Bones secret society, and one of the early “Bonesmen” to join the OSS/CIA. McCarthy has also been critical of Chairman Nunes, the Republican members of the House Intelligence Committee, and the Nunes memo. We mention the foregoing, as it would be difficult credibly to accuse McCarthy of being biased in favor of President Trump or guilty of antipathy toward Special Counsel Robert Mueller. His cogent criticism, thus, is all the more deserving of note.
Our critique here will be briefer. In his first of four points, Representative Nadler’s memo states: “The FISA court found probable cause to believe that Carter Page is an agent of a foreign power. Nothing in the Nunes memo rules out the possibility that considerable evidence beyond the Steele dossier helped the court reach that conclusion.”
Nadler then goes on to boldly declare, “We should not lose sight of a critical and undisputed fact: The Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court found probable cause to believe that Carter Page — a member of the Trump campaign’s foreign policy team — was an agent of the Russian government.” The “critical and undisputed fact” is that the FISA Court did indeed issue a warrant to spy upon Carter Page, but what is at issue here concerns the basis on which it was granted. What evidence, aside from the toxic Steele dossier, was used to justify the warrant? Did President Obama’s Department of Justice (DOJ) and FBI deceive the court, or did the judge fail in due diligence (or cave under pressure or blackmail) and allow the FISA process to be weaponized against an opponent of the administration in power? To argue, as Nadler does, that the Obama DOJ/FBI must be blameless and Carter Page guilty because a judge issued the warrant is circular reasoning at its most dangerous.
Nevertheless, Nadler doubles down on the matter. “So, to be clear: Carter Page was, more likely than not, an agent of a foreign power,” says the Nadler memo. “The Department of Justice thought so. A federal judge agreed. That consensus, supported by the facts, forms the basis for the warrant issued by the FISA court. The Russian government waged a massive campaign to discredit our election. Carter Page appears to have played a role in that effort. The FBI has a responsibility to follow these facts where they lead. The Nunes memo would have us sweep this all under the rug.”
No, it seems, rather, that Representative Nadler and his colleagues would have us sweep the Constitution, due process, and evidence of treasonous criminal malfeasance at the highest levels of government under the rug.
The Nadler memo conveniently fails to mention the statement in the Nunes memo that former Deputy Director of the FBI Andrew McCabe, who signed one of the warrant applications, testified before the intelligence committee last December “that no surveillance warrant would have been sought from the FISC [Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court, or ‘FISA Court’] without the Steele dossier information.” In other words, issuance of the warrant was completely contingent upon the discredited and disreputable Steele dossier.
Nadler also fails to address the Nunes memo assertion that “according to the head of the counterintelligence division, Assistant Director Bill Priestap, corroboration of the Steele dossier was in its ‘infancy’ at the time of the initial Page FISA application.” In other words, rather than presenting evidence that had met the high-bar tests required for a FISA warrant, the DOJ-FBI were relying on unsubstantiated hearsay reports that were provided by the target’s political opponents. Moreover, Nadler understandably also fails to mention a key section of the Nunes memo that states “in early January 2017, Director Comey briefed President-elect Trump on a summary of the Steele dossier, even though it was — according to his June 2017 testimony—‘salacious and unverified.’” Yet this "salacious and unverified" report was shopped around to media organizations at the height of a political campaign and allowed to poison the political atmosphere during the crucial weeks leading up to Election Day.
Yes, the “salacious and unverified” dossier that alleged Donald Trump had hired Russian prostitutes and had them urinate on a Moscow hotel bed where President Barack Obama and Michelle Obama had slept is now the subject of a rehabilitation effort by Representative Nadler and various anti-Trump media commentators. However, the all-too-eager media hounds that ran with the Steele dossier’s sordid fare ended up with egg all over their faces. Not only did that sensationally scandalous story turn out to be a rancid fabrication, most of the other allegations also quickly imploded under the most basic examination. In a dissection of the dirty dossier for The New American on January 15, C. Mitchell Shaw cut to the chase and exposed a number of the most execrable examples of the Steele/Fusion GPS anti-Trump hit piece. Much of the media herd that ran with the dossier has since confessed that it is a concoction of lies and defamatory innuendo. Even BuzzFeed, the left-wing website that was the original conduit for the Steele disinformation, was compelled to confess that the document contains “clear errors” and “unconfirmed” allegations. That’s kind of like saying mass-murdering communist dictator Joseph Stalin was “not nice.”
The heading for the Nadler memo’s Point Number 2 is: "Christopher Steele is a recognized expert on Russia and organized crime.” A few sentences later he reiterates that “Christopher Steele is one of the world’s leading experts on Russian organized crime.” That assertion is clearly debatable, but not really the most relevant factor in the issue at hand. The issue is, regardless of his alleged expertise, what kind of evidence did he provide? That important question already has been answered, as we’ve noted, both by the acknowledged multiple grievous errors and falsehoods in the dossiers, and by admissions from top DOJ-FBI officials.
Notwithstanding such fatal defects, Nadler says ”amazingly, the Nunes memo does not provide a single shred of evidence that any aspect of the Steele dossier is false or inaccurate in any way.” No, what is amazing is that Nadler and his media confederates are so brazen as to think they can buffalo the American public with this shameless bluff. First of all, as we’ve already noted, the Steele dossier has already fallen under its own weight. However, the disingenuousness of Nadler’s argument is plainly transparent, since if the Nunes memo had provided the “single shred of evidence” he demands, we can be sure that he and his Democrat choir would be screaming that Nunes and the GOP are “destroying our intelligence community.” We can be sure of that because it is precisely what they’ve done all along.
However — and this is a crucially important point — Nadler has the argument completely backwards: The burden is not on the committee to prove “the Steele dossier is false” (in part or in toto); the burden is on the political higher-ups in the Obama DOJ/FBI to prove that they had credible evidence to justify their warrants. The burden is also on them reasonably to dispel the fair-minded impression that they had criminally weaponized the FISA process against American citizens.
So far, the Democrats and their media cheering section have failed to address those issues; they have merely attempted to misdirect public attention and concern from their own misdeeds and keep attention on a non-stop Russia-Trump collusion investigation/witch hunt that has yet failed to produce a single shred of credible evidence. Representative Nadler’s “rebuttal” memo is more of the same misdirection and disinformation.
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