Nunes Showed His Hand. It’s a Busted Flush.

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Nunes Memo, Trump Maladministration

Well, they released the memo. No bombshell. Nothing in it we hadn’t anticipated. You can read it here.

It’s also the case that there are no redactions, but I see nothing in it that would seem to me to be a security problem. There’s been a lot of hyperventilating over nothing, in other words.

James Comey probably sums it up best: “That’s it?”

Andrew Cohen, at Charles Pierce’s place, posted a graphic:

Cohen also said,

It reads like a shoddy legal brief. Specifically, one written in haste by an attorney who knows he doesn’t have the law or the facts on his side so he gins up a compelling narrative, hoping the reviewing court or opposing counsel doesn’t dig too deep into the record to find all the holes. …

…They’ve written what amounts to a series of political talking points, like the kind you would see in a campaign fundraising letter, designed to make the FBI and the Justice Department look bad, and to make the targets of the investigation, Carter Page and George Papadopoulos, look like victims of dark chicanery. …

…This memo, this creature, would not stand up in court and it should not stand up in the court of public opinion. No judge would allow it into evidence, no expert witness would rely on it for an opinion, no one would swear to its contents under penalty of perjury. It raises countless more questions than it answers—and, really, the only question it answers accurately is how far Rep. Devin Nunes and his fellow travelers at the House Intelligence Committee have been willing to go to protect the White House from an investigation into Russian tampering, an investigation we know that a vast majority of Americans want to see completed.

See also Josh Marshall’s analysis.

The key hinge in the memo is that it consistently seeks to suggest that the Dossier was the heart of the government’s case or even the entirety of the government’s case without actually providing any evidence for this claim or – critically – describing any other evidence the government may have had or may have included in the application. I see two key places in the memo where they make this case. On page 2 the memo states the dossier was “an essential part” of the government application. On the bottom of page 3, the memo says: “Deputy Director McCabe testified before the Committee in December 2017 that no surveillance warrant would have been sought from the FISC without the Steele dossier information.”

The latter quote is simply a characterization of what McCabe said. His actual quote would be critical to judging its significance. …

IMO what McCabe allegedly said is the most damaging thing to the investigation in the memo, but as I understand it, disclosing the connection to Clinton was not a requirement. “The idea that you could only put material in a FISA application that is guaranteed not to be tainted by anybody with possibly questionable motives is not an idea that has any currency in law enforcement circles,” Jonathan Swan wrote at Axios. It would be nice also if we had an actual quote, in context.

Again, there’s nothing here that changes what has been speculated about the memo over the past several days. It’s all about disingenuously connecting Hillary Clinton (through the Steele Dossier) to the FISA warrant and claiming that because the warrant application didn’t specify who commissioned the dossier, the warrant was tainted. That’s really all there is to it. We’ve already gone over why the FISA warrant wouldn’t have been extended based on the Steele Dossier alone, and also why it’s not a given that the inclusion of the Steele Dossier on the warrant application was a problem. Basically, it’s only a problem because Trump apologists say it is.

Jonathan Swan goes on to say that the memo could still be used to fire Rod Rosenstein. Also,

Part of the reason this memo is generating such a broad variety of reaction is that the vast majority of Americans don’t know anything about FISA or the authorities the intelligence community have to surveil Americans. Intel geeks are writing this off as underwhelming, but Americans who are uninitiated to FISA may find this troubling.

So it depends on who wins the spin game. But that’s not exactly Democrats’ strong suit, unfortunately.

Along those lines, Dahlia Lithwick thinks the memo is a Trump win:

The Devin Nunes memo is, as was widely expected, a dud. It reveals nothing new, and answers none of the crucial questions raised by former law enforcement officials who have said there is nothing in this report that warrants its release. …

… The memo is so silly, and technical, and logic-defying on its face that it’s easy to miss the fact that its genius lies in precisely that.  Unless one ambles comfortably in the murky weeds of the Trump-Russia collusion investigation, this will all be just arcane and confusing enough to mean nothing. For the vast majority of Americans, it will be enough that the president has now declared that his own federal intelligence apparatus is corrupt and out to get him, and has conveniently produced an enemies list that conveniently sweeps in all the villains, from Christopher Steele to Dana Boente to Sally Yates to Andrew McCabe, who have declined to play on the president’s “team.” If the point here is to raise doubts about every investigatory agency capable of scrutinizing Trump, it has been achieved.

On the other hand, they dumped this thing on a Friday, and on Super Bowl weekend, no less. See also “The Nunes Memo Is a Complete Flop” by Jeremy Stahl.

Elsewhere:

Did anyone notice the stock market dropped 666 points today? I’m not making that up — it’s 666 points. I seem to recall that a big dip on a Friday usually leads to a bigger plunge on Monday. We’ll see.

And did you hear the one about three of Rick Gates’s lawyers told a federal court yesterday that they were immediately withdrawing from the case? The reasons for this are sealed. There is speculation that Gates, a former Trump campaign aid who has been indicted by Bob Mueller for money laundering and other things, will start cooperating. Gates recently hired Washington attorney Tom Green, who has defended perps in Watergate and Iran Contra, among other things.

Update: Someone at RedState of all places actually called out an error in the memo that further damages what little credibility it had.

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11 Comments

11 Comments

  1. Swami  •  Feb 2, 2018 @6:09 pm

    Can he do it?… Knock down 242 years of democratic government with the bellows of Fake News.

     Nothing to see here, folks..No collusion, no obstruction.. just Fake News!

  2. LongHairedWeirdo  •  Feb 2, 2018 @6:47 pm

    Some of the information that might have been redacted might have been some of the specifics about Steele. e.g., that he had worked as a source before (he's now useless for anything that people don't want the FBI to know), or why he wasn't paid (except for some expenses), and the suggestions that he wasn't reliable – no one of these things might be crushingly important – but they might be, to Steele, and to other helpful figures who don't want to have their names tossed around because some ninny had a memo-stiffy.

  3. maha  •  Feb 2, 2018 @6:52 pm

    Nothing was redacted. Of course, the memo itself was made up of cherry-picked information.

  4. Swami  •  Feb 2, 2018 @7:13 pm

    Glad to hear about Rick Gates… I hope that news is that he decided to roll over.

    It kinda gives credence to the words of wisdom my mother so often imparted to me…"When you're in trouble, you're in trouble alone" I wonder if Paul Manafort can see the beauty in those words?

  5. uncledad  •  Feb 2, 2018 @8:18 pm

    From a legal perspective the memo is a busted flush as you say, it does however serve a purpose. The memo is simply an official government account of FAUX news conspiracy ranting from the last year. It will be useful in keeping  the rubes riled up and will be a great piece of reference material for wing-nut blogs and talk radio. Now all the mouth breathers can cite the "official house intelligence committee memo" when they blather on about the "deep state" coup against tRump!

  6. csm  •  Feb 2, 2018 @11:06 pm

    I'm not surprised the memo is a complete dud.  I suspected it would be of the right wing fever dream variety, a mish-mash of complete falsehoods, intentional mis-characterizations, wingnut talking points and sheer lunacy designed to sate the rabid, deplorable base.  It may serve that purpose but they could have gotten the same bang for that buck without trashing law enforcement and intel agencies, usually friends of "law and order" republicans.

    Whenever I want to know how something is playing in Wingnuttia, I check in with the guy who runs a pizza shop near me.  This guy is a Fox watching, Trump worshipping, democrat hating, super wingnut, for whom no right wing conspiracy is ever too far out for him not to take as gospel. I was there two days ago, and his eyes were ablaze, and he was pumped and stoked, practically salivating over the release of the memo, exclaiming that with the memo, "they will finally have the evidence to arrest Obama, Hillary and Mueller, and maybe even Pelosi.  And he was dead serious.  And this news made him so happy his usually dark visage was lit up like Times Square on Christmas.

    The man makes the best gyros I have ever had.  Ever.  So I put up with his craziness.  But for him, and people like him, the memo release is the greatest day in the history of the world.  But that is the only value Trump will get from this.  Otherwise, I believe they built this memo up and for it to turn out to be a huge disappointment in that regard, probably hurts Trump in the long run.

  7. Swami  •  Feb 3, 2018 @2:43 am

    I saw Nunes on Fox News… He disavowed the crafting of the memo. He laid it all on Trey Gowdy's doing. I wasn't sure whether he was trying to avoid responsibility for the shit memo or whether he was using Gowdy's image as a superior legal beagle to bolster the credibility of the memo. In either event, it adds to the understanding of why Gowdy has decided to pack it in.

     I think Gowdy knows that this whole thing is going to blowup in their faces. Ya get while the gettin' is good. 

  8. c u n d gulag  •  Feb 3, 2018 @11:32 am

    "Here, members of the. MSM, is the president's favorite new burger, and he's sharing it with you."

    'But it's a nothing-burger, with nothing on it or in it!'

    "Exactly.  That's why it's his favorite!  It's got no calories, but it gives his base plenty to chew on for months – maybe years!  And his favorite news sourc… CHANNEL, "FOE News (Motto: We decide the foe, so you can help distort) will keep this memo on the bases menu until it serves its purpose.''

    'But what IS that purpose?'

    "To make people realize that the president is the only one who tells the truth.  And that the Deep State is as fake as the news, and that THEY ARE THE ONES IN COLLUSION – against our greatest president:  Donald J. Trump!"

    ______________________________________________________

    Are there any Republicans left? 

    Or have they all morphed into Banana Republicans – which is certainly how it seems.

    tRUMP picks his foes, and his Congressional lemmings all trip over each other trying to help spread the distortion on "FOE News." 

    I think we need a name for all of tRUMP's supporters – in politics and the media – who help distort reality.

    I'm going to start calling them "Filth Columnists."

    The "Filth Columnists" either start the spread of tRUMP's distorted filth, or try to muddy the waters where the waters seem to still be clear, or clearing.

    In a little over a year, these "Filth Columnists" are already more successful in helping destroy America and all that it represents – rightly or wrongly – than all of the – real or unreal -"Fifth Colimnists" that the conservatives feared from the end of Russian Revolution, until the Berlin Wall finally crashed down. 

    tRUMP is Putin's poodle, and the greatest asset he has ever turned.

    Thanks again, Banana's Republicans! 

    Fer nothin'… 

     

  9. Strigiforms  •  Feb 3, 2018 @12:57 pm

    Thank you, once again.  Nicely summed up. I really tire of claimed conspiracies, but the "FBI and DOJ are out to get me" one is particularly frustrating.  Successful conspiracies require no one talks about them, accidentally reveals them, or leaves any trail in phone calls, emails, or physical meetings that would clue people in that the conspiracy is happening.  I think someone did a study once and determined that once conspiracies move beyond 3 or 4 people, they are virtually impossible to maintain, because something will end up revealing them.  So the concept that there is some widespread conspiracy supposedly by Republicans in the FBI, the DOJ, a bunch of federal judges, all Democratic lawmakers on the Hill, the entire DNC, all of mainstream media and somehow the Russians, all against Trump, is utterly ridiculous. 

    Voicing any opposition or saying something that is anything less than flattering is decried a conspiracy, in an effort to criminalize at a social level things that are our Constitutional rights.  I admit that some days I fear that our culture will too readily except that as a norm, and let our rights, and ultimately our republic, slip away.

  10. Swami  •  Feb 3, 2018 @2:20 pm

    Trump is claiming that he's been vindicated… It's gonna be all that much sweeter when his big fat ass and his moron children get indicted. I'm hearing talk that Mueller might indict Trump just to force a constitutional crisis. That way it will limit Congressional Repugs in letting Trump slide by failing to impeach him.

     When it's front and center and in everybody's face it will be that much harder to turn a blind eye to Trump's lying bullshit.

     It's no longer a case of wanting to see Trump held responsible for his antics..It's a case of defending the rule of law and upholding our national values. Nobody is above the law!

  11. LongHairedWeirdo  •  Feb 3, 2018 @3:31 pm

    Re: nothing was redacted – I was speaking about what *might have been* redacted, if the FBI had the opportunity. Not everything that would be redacted is an immediate, obvious secret, which is why they often claim classification to protect "sources and methods".



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