The long-awaited Democrat Memo, intended as a rebuttal to the Nunes Memo on FISA Abuse, has finally been released.  Here it is, in all of its glory, with the key arguments emphasized below:

The first key point is an evasion, the second is murky, and the third is completely chickenshit.

The first issue I should address is how my own predictions met with the final product.  The primary test I applied was this:

For the Democrat Memo to mean anything beyond that and effectively counter what Nunes and Grassley put out, it has to show that the allegations in the Steele Dossier and Steele’s own credibility were not key to obtaining or extending the FISA warrant against Carter Page.

My focus is to decide whether Schiff’s memo achieves this.

First, let’s look at Schiff’s first point.  He alleges that Steele’s intelligence did not initiate the FBI’s counterintelligence investigation into Carter Page.  Did not initiate it.  It didn’t initiate it.

This is true, and neither the Nunes or Grassley memos say otherwise.  They only say that the FISA warrant was sought in October 2016.  The FBI investigation began in July of that year.  This is a purposeful misdirection on Schiff’s part.

The second bullet point claims, essentially, that it wasn’t the information in the Steele Dossier that was used to obtain the FISA warrant, but Steele’s credibility–which is exactly what the Grassley Memo quotes Comey as saying.  In that regard, the three memos agree.

Where they diverge is that Schiff says the DOJ did tell the court what Steele’s biases were, that the FISC was informed of the reasons for Steele’s termination as a source, and that the political motivations of his employer were stated to the court.

Notably, Schiff’s memo emphasizes that Steele was hired by “a law firm” and had no idea that either political campaign was behind the effort to gather research.

This gives cover to the Clinton campaign and even I acknowledged that it’s not 100% clear from the Grassley and Nunes memos that Steele knew he was ultimately being paid by the Clinton campaign.  Nunes and Grassley claimed that the FBI did know, or should have.  It’s therefore not perfectly established what Steele knew or what the FBI knew.  We need to see the FISA applications for ourselves.

In effect, Schiff is claiming that the FBI did not know who had ultimately commissioned the dossier because the Clinton campaign was smart enough to have multiple layers placed between itself and Steele.  Schiff just doesn’t bluntly say so.  Again: one political campaign was able to get the FBI to spy on a campaign volunteer from the opposing campaign.  What I will say is that it’s the one allegation made in the memo that I consider new information.

The third bullet point is a pure cheap shot and is completely outrageous.  Schiff knows full well that Nunes wasn’t permitted to review the FISA application because he found it better to let Trey Gowdy read it.  Each party was permitted only one person review the memo. Schiff, an experienced former US Attorney, read the FISA application on behalf of the Democrats.  Nunes, who was a farmer, decided that it would be better to have Gowdy (himself an experienced former US Attorney) review it on behalf of the Republicans.

Schiff faulting Nunes for not reading the FISA application is pure chicken-shittery.  It’s so dishonest that it hurts the credibility of the rest of the memo.  Notably,  Schiff’s Memo doesn’t address Grassley’s findings at all, and Grassley did review the FISA application.

There’s much more and I’d need more time to digest it, but I only focused on the question of whether or not Schiff’s memo contradicts that of Nunes and Grassley.  It doesn’t.

From here, we need to see two things.  The first is the FISA application itself.  All three memos agree that the Yahoo article Steele provided information for factored into it.  Schiff acknowledged that it was used all three times, but claims that it wasn’t used as independent corroboration, but that doesn’t hold up because he also went to great lengths to explain that it doesn’t matter because the FBI couldn’t be sure that Steele told that exact information to Yahoo’s reporter anyway.

I’m curious to know, but well-aware that we won’t be told anytime soon, what valuable evidence was gained from the surveillance of Carter Page.  Schiff goes to great pains to emphasize that Page had left the campaign officially in September 2016, but what intelligence was the FBI gathering and on whom?  Was Page still in contact with anyone on the campaign and was it under the warrant’s purview?

Second thing we need is to hear McCabe’s Congressional testimony in which he supposedly claims that the dossier was critical for obtaining the FISA warrant and extending it.

Everything else the Schiff memo says that flatly contradicts what was and wasn’t in the FISA application is redacted.  We’re back where we started, but the fact remains that the FBI obtained a FISA warrant to spy on an American citizen, who had been a volunteer employee of a presidential campaign, based on the information and credibility of a foreign operative–who may or may not have known that he was working for the opposing presidential campaign–and continued using information supplied by that operative after he had been terminated for leaking to the press and lying about it to the FBI.

If you want to know what I really want right now, it’s an explanation as to why Christopher Steele has not already been indicted.  If you’re interested in the topic of foreign involvement in the 2016 election through manipulation of mass media, he’s at Ground Zero of it.

Seriously, how is this justified?  It’s mentioned in both Schiff and Grassley’s memos.

Insane.  The bottom line is that if Democrats are hoping to exonerate the FBI/DOJ of any wrongdoing and justify the Trump-Russia-Possible Collusion investigation, they should agree with me that Steele needs to be indicted.   Schiff’s memo is good damage control in the public square, but it only gives further evidence that a trusted source for the FBI used to spy on an American citizen was dirty.

How that affects the investigation itself remains to be seen and will require the release of more evidence.  Let’s do it, I say.

10 comments

  1. For those interested, you can read a point by point rebuttal of all the lies, misdirection’s and fabrications here;
    https://theconservativetreehouse.com/2018/02/24/chairman-devin-nunes-and-hpsci-rebuttal-to-points-within-adam-schiff-minority-memo/

    TBH, I have reached the point where it is so apparent to me that our system has been subverted by partisan hacks (on both sides) and that our government is so dysfunctional and antithetical to the will of the those that elected them, they and we are beyond hope of any rehabilitation. To wit:

    You had a partisan FBI who took an unsubstantiated piece of opposition research, and peddled it off to the FISA court, pretending it was verified, and used it to obtain a warrant to spy on Americans.

    The Obama administration knew back in 21014 that the Russians were messing with our election process, but expected Hillary to win so did nothing.

    Hillary broke a handful of federal laws with her non authorized bathroom server, she disseminated and received classified info, and lied about it in the process.

    Obama was part and parcel of this illegal act, dedicating a separate (and what he thought private) email address to correspond back and forth with Hillary, full knowing that she had this illegal server in use.

    Hillary aides lied to the FBI about the server.

    Comey, Brrennen and Clapper all lied to Congress.

    The FBI had partisan acts that were running interference for Hillary and were obstructing lawful investigations into her actions.

    We have Congressional committees that wastes so much money and diverts its much needed attention from the people’s business, spending their time trying to make the other side look bad.

    And lastly you have Mueller, spending countless millions of dollars, still not finding jackshit on any Trump collusion, but notching his belt and getting lower level functionaries to admit tolying to the FBI about their own personal dealings (not Trumps) with foreign agencies.

    At this point the only thing that I care about is what is being done now to combat any more foreign interference into our electoral process. The rest is all noise.

    OK, I feel better.

  2. I sense you’ve been waiting for this for a while.

    At this point the only thing that I care about is what is being done now to combat any more foreign interference into our electoral process. The rest is all noise.

    I’m not sure what should be done. Even though the Manafort/Gates charges don’t appear to be connected to the election, I’m glad that lobbyists are getting charged for matters related to selling their political influence on behalf of foreign countries. That’s actually a big deal when you think about it.

    For the bot issue, #FakeNews, etc I think it should be ignored. I foresee too many First Amendment problems if we encourage Silicon Valley–which is notoriously anti- free speech–to start regulating who can say what on the Internet.

  3. Dang, I wrote that as I was just rushing out the door, a few spelling errors.

    All the rancor and partisanship has taken most of the fun out of politics. This is why I will try to write more varied non political posts., sports, entertainment ( we need The Judge) and human interest stuff.

  4. This doesn’t seem nearly as bad as you indicate. In fact, it blows Nunes’s primary point — that FISA was never told that the information might be partisan — out of the water. And, as for the third point, if Nunes admitted he hadn’t read the underlying FISA warrant, why did he write the Republicans memo in the first place? (Especially as the man who did, Gowdy, contradicted him on key points). I have consistently unimpressed with the evidence of the supposed conspiracy within the FBI. And it’s amazing how fast we’ve gone to “OBAMA WAS SPYING ON TRUMP!” to “they may have made some empty statements in a wiretap warrant for a guy … who had been on the FBI’s radar for years … who was no longer part of the Trump campaign … and was working with foreign agents to try to tip an election.”

  5. You had an FBI who took a partially substantiated piece of opposition research, used it to support case to the FISA court, and used it to obtain a warrant to spy on an American who they’d been investigating since 2014.

    FTFY.

  6. No, you’re way off. Let’s go through it.

    In fact, it blows Nunes’s primary point — that FISA was never told that the information might be partisan — out of the water.

    See the Nunes Memo:

    Also, the Grassley Memo (reminder that Grassley read the FISA Application himself):

    Schiff scored an own-goal here. He highlighted the part of the FISA application that only said it was a person who had an interest in seeing Trump defeated. It did not disclose that the Clinton campaign was behind it. Both Nunes/Gowdy in the House and Grassley/Graham in the Senate came to the conclusion that the FBI and DOJ knew this, but didn’t include it in the memo.

    Schiff didn’t “blow it out of the water” over the partisan motivations. He proved both GOP memos right. Both of those memos allege that the FBI and DOJ didn’t inform the FISC that Steele was a subcontractor for the Clinton campaign and Schiff proved it.

    And, as for the third point, if Nunes admitted he hadn’t read the underlying FISA warrant, why did he write the Republicans memo in the first place?

    You know full well that if Nunes had reviewed the application, Schiff would claim that he should be ignored because he’s not an attorney. Why doesn’t Schiff challenge Gowdy or Grassley? The answer is that he can’t and he knows it. Instead, he’s trying to make it about Nunes (as was predicted because he’s a devious bastard). It’s disingenous and you shouldn’t defend it.

    Gowdy is on the House Judiciary Committee. Nunes was conducting his work on behalf of the Intelligence Committee, which he chairs. There’s absolutely nothing wrong or unusual with him using Gowdy’s expertise as input and gathering the evidence together for his memo.

    Gowdy’s involvement adds credibility to the Nunes Memo, as does Grassley’s independent corroboration.

    Especially as the man who did, Gowdy, contradicted him on key points

    Such as? I’ve seen where Gowdy has tamped down expectations stated by other House Republicans that the Nunes Memo would result in Rosenstein and Mueller being fired, but not where he’s renounced any of the key points. The Grassley Memo corroborates the Nunes Memo and I haven’t found anything they contradict each other on.

    And it’s amazing how fast we’ve gone to “OBAMA WAS SPYING ON TRUMP!” to “they may have made some empty statements in a wiretap warrant for a guy … who had been on the FBI’s radar for years … who was no longer part of the Trump campaign … and was working with foreign agents to try to tip an election.

    Was Page still in contact with anyone on the campaign after he officially stopped working for it? If so, those communications were monitored. If he was no longer on the campaign or in a position to offer anything to the Russians, why was surveillance continued? If it’s true that other valuable information was gained to justify the extension of the warrant, why was Steele’s research still used after he had been discredited?

    To answer those questions, more information must be declassified, of course. But if Schiff’s purpose was to challenge the GOP’s memos, it doesn’t do it. It even strengthens their assertions in places.

  7. He highlighted the part of the FISA application that only said it was a person who had an interest in seeing Trump defeated. It did not disclose that the Clinton campaign was behind it.

    An omission, sure, but hardly the stuff of scandal. (And keep in mind that the Fusion GPS investigation was started by a Republican opponent to Trump). Judges have to issue warrants in the face of potentially biased information all the time. Someone tells the cops that X is dealing drugs out of his basement. Does he have a grudge against them?

    Julian Sanchez, hardly a Democratic shill, tweeted about it this morning. His main point is that 1) the Schiff memo makes it clear that the Steele memo was corroborated, at least as far as Page’s behaviour went; and 2)the FBI documented that they had long suspected Page of doing something fishy. In that light:

    I think you have to assess the credence FBI gave the Steele reports in the context of their preexisting suspicion about Page’s contacts. In Page’s case the question is probably less “why would you credit the report he met specific Russians?” & more “why wouldn’t you?”

    Also:

    Was Page still in contact with anyone on the campaign after he officially stopped working for it? If so, those communications were monitored

    That’s a risk with any surveillance. This is the reason for the masking and why only evidence related to the warrant is admissible. But having been a former campaign member (or even a current one) should not be a shield for someone engaged in illegal activity.

  8. An omission, sure, but hardly the stuff of scandal.

    I respectfully disagree.

    (And keep in mind that the Fusion GPS investigation was started by a Republican opponent to Trump).

    And let’s also keep in mind that none of that information made its way into the dossier, nor was it included in the FISA application, nor did the Republican client of Fusion GPS have anything to do with Steele.

    His main point is that 1) the Schiff memo makes it clear that the Steele memo was corroborated, at least as far as Page’s behaviour went

    No, it doesn’t. You call this “clear”?

    I’ve actually read all three memos and you’re citing what other people have said. Weren’t you faulting Nunes for that earlier?

    That’s a risk with any surveillance.

    The question is whether it was a “risk” or whether it was the intent. That’s where the scandal lies, if there is one.

    Let me ask you a question. Should Steele have been indicted by now?

  9. Very detailed examination of the Schiff Memo here. Andrew McCarthy freaking dismantles it:

    https://www.nationalreview.com/2018/02/schiff-memo-russia-investigation-harms-democrats-more-than-helps-them/

    The Schiff memo repeats the canard that the Obama administration was not really spying on the Trump campaign because the DOJ waited until the Trump campaign cut ties with Page before seeking a surveillance warrant. What Democrats fail to mention is that the surveillance enabled the FBI to intercept not only his forward-going communications but also any stored emails and texts he might have had. Clearly, they were hoping to find a motherlode of campaign communications. Remember, Page was merely the vehicle for surveillance; the objective was to probe Trump ties to Russia.

    I confess that I had not considered that the FISA warrant would give them access to stored emails and texts as well as ongoing communications. There’s lots more in the link.

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