Podcast

Truth Without Fear Ep. 2: Memo Wars 2018

Anthony and Ciara discuss #TheMemo and what it means for the Trump administration and our intelligence agencies going forward.

One Comment

  1. What we learned since the Nunes memo.

    1. The FBI and other intelligence services, first became interested when the Australian Ambassador contacted them saying that George Papadopoulos, a member of the Trump election team, said that the Russians had information on Clinton two weeks before Wikileaks revelations.

    2. Carter Page was the main subject of the memo. The F.B.I. didn’t zero in on Mr. Page for the hell of it. He has been in the government’s sights since 2013, when investigators learned he was being targeted for recruitment by a Russian agent.

    January 2013: At an energy conference in New York, Page meets with Victor Podobnyy, according to court documents. The two exchange contact information and have several more meetings discussing energy policy, where they also exchange documents on that subject.

    Jan. 26, 2015: Pobodnyy and two other Russians are charged with working as agents for Russian intelligence in New York. Court records include a transcript of a recorded conversation in which Pobodnyy talks about trying to recruit someone identified as Male-1, which BuzzFeed later reveals to be Page. “I think he is an idiot,” Pobodnyy says in the transcript.

    December 2015: Feeling that the Trump campaign aligns with his ideas on Russia, Page asks Ed Cox, chair of the New York state Republican Party, to recommend him as an advisor. He is brought on right away. “Anyone who came to us with a pulse, a résumé and seemed legit would be welcomed,” a campaign official tells the Post later.

    March 21, 2016: Trump meets with the editorial board of the Washington Post. Asked about his foreign policy team, he names, among others, Page and George Papadopoulos, who later pleads guilty to lying to the FBI about contacts he had with the Russian government during the 2016 presidential campaign.

    July of 2016:
    • Page joins a group dinner of Trump campaign national security advisors, including then-Sen. Jeff Sessions, at the Capitol Hill Club in Washington. He later testifies that he casually told Sessions about an upcoming trip to Russia during the dinner.
    • Former British intelligence agent Christopher Steele approaches an FBI agent with information he has uncovered about Trump’s relationship with Russia while doing opposition research on behalf of the Washington Free Beacon (a conservative newspaper) and later the Democratic National Committee and the Hillary Clinton campaign.
    Nunes a Republican from California, the chairman of the House Intelligence Committee, stepped aside from the House investigation into Russian interference in the presidential election after it was revealed that the House Ethics Committee was investigating whether he made unauthorized disclosures of classified information to the White House.

    Who makes up the “Deep State Conspiracy” and the plot “unearthed” by the Nunes memo?
    The six top officials in charge of federal law enforcement organizations in the “Conspiracy” are all Republicans.

    1. Robert Muerller III, a veteran who served in Vietnam became a federal prosecutor under George H.W. Bush. Became FBI director in 2001 under George W. Bush and was confirmed unanimously. Robert S. Mueller III, has already brought charges against four of Mr. Trump’s former aides.

    2. James Comey was the deputy attorney general under the younger Bush. Former President Barack Obama appointed him to head the FBI in 2013. He was a Republican when appointed by Bush at least until fired by Trump. Since the memo talks about abuse of the FISA process it is important to remember that Comey was the one, who when US Attorney General John Ashcroft was sick refused to reauthorize the Stellar Wind domestic intelligence program as illegal. (A Bush process even more intrusive than FISA).

    3. Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein appointed by Trump is a Republican. He even wrote the memo that the White House used as justification for firing Comey over his handling of the Clinton probe, even though Trump quickly undermined it by saying it actually fired Comey because of the Russia probe.

    4. FBI Director Christopher Wray, who angered Trump because the FBI released a statement essentially calling the GOP-authored memo bogus, is another Republican. Former President George W. Bush nominated him in 2003 to be the assistant attorney general in charge of the Justice Department’s criminal division. Trump selected Wray to be the FBI director after he fired Comey last year. Wray released a statement essentially calling the GOP-authored memo bogus

    5. Jeff Sessions is most definitely a Republican. Trump nominated Sessions to be the attorney general.

    6. Andrew McCabe, the former deputy of the director of the FBI who stepped down earlier this week, did not vote in the 2016 presidential general election — but he did participate in the Republican primary.
    FISA warrants must be renewed every 90 days, showing that the surveillance is producing results. At least twice during the Trump administration the warrants were renewed.

    The memo mentions Deputy Attorneys General Yates who told Trump the immigration executive order was unconstitutional, resulting in Trump firing her. She was right. She also signed one of the many orders asking the FISA court to continue its warrant while she as was temporarily in charge after the firing of Comey.
    The memo does not mention Paul John Manafort Jr, George Papadopoulos, or others who have been charged and in some cases pleaded guilty. We also do not know what the FBI and Muerller know and cannot revel.
    As for the FBI, occupants of the J. Edgar Hoover building in DC. Hoover was appointed as the director of the Bureau of Investigation — the FBI’s predecessor — in 1924 and was instrumental in founding the FBI in 1935, where he remained director until his death in 1972 at the age of 77. Hoover led the FBI in a manner that can be described as hard right. (Google COINTELPRO). He had a distinct bias against liberals yet much of his and the FBI actions would have been done by any law enforcement agency. It is safe to say FBI like most police forces remains to the right of the general population. At its core, the FBI is still a pretty conservative, right-leaning organization that tries to divorce itself of politics. Rank-and-file FBI agents are perplexed by the attacks on the bureau coming from the party that had aligned itself so closely with law and order.

    Now turning to the statements in the report. The three-and-a-half-page document — produced by the staff of Representative Devin Nunes (R), who somehow still leads the House Intelligence Committee and supposed to be recused himself from these matters . Mr. Nunes ostensibly shows that anti-Trump F.B.I. investigators conspired to trick a federal intelligence court (apparently 4 different judges) into granting them a warrant to spy on a former Trump campaign adviser Carter Page. First, Mr. Nunes and his fellow Republicans have treated the Steele dossier like the holy grail for the Russia investigation, but it didn’t reach the F.B.I. until the inquiry was already underway — prompted in mid-2013 by suspicious contacts between Russians and George Papadopoulos, a foreign policy adviser to the Trump campaign (The memo confirms – the investigation was started before the FBI received the document. Mr. Papadopoulos has pleaded guilty to lying about those contacts and is now cooperating with the special counsel’s investigation. For a bit of context, the Fisa warrant review system was established by Congress in 1978 and, as of 2013, had reviewed more than 35,000 surveillance requests. Of that number, the judges on the court had rejected only 12 applications.

    Second, the F.B.I. didn’t zero in on Mr. Page for the hell of it. He has been in the government’s sights since 2013, when investigators learned he was being targeted for recruitment by a Russian agent. To obtain a warrant to spy on someone like Mr. Page, an American citizen, investigators must show probable cause that he is working as a foreign intelligence agent. This would require reams of documentary and other evidence gathered over the years, of which the dossier would have been only one part. In addition, the 90-day warrant for Mr. Page has already been extended multiple times, which means investigators had to show the intelligence court new information, beyond the dossier, justifying the basis of the original warrant.
    Finally the Steele document was neglects to mention that the Fusion GPS opposition research effort directed toward Mr Trump was originally bankrolled by a prominent conservative donor and activist.
    By his own admission on Fox news Mr. Nunes hasn’t read the classified documents underlying his memo although they were available, (the multiple FIFA requests), and has refused to show his work even to Republican senators. Stephen E. Boyd, an assistant attorney general, said releasing the memo without the official process to review classified information would be “extraordinarily reckless.” Republicans on the

    House committee voted on Monday to invoke a never-before-used rule to release the memo.

    On Tuesday: Trump said he would release the memo. On Wednesday the White House confirms he will do so. The president did not actually see the memo until Wednesday afternoon Over the previous two weeks, according to interviews with eight senior administration officials and other advisers to the president, he tuned in to cable television segments about the memo. He talked to friends and advisers about it. And, before he had even read it, Trump became absolutely convinced of one thing: The memo needed to come out. When House Republicans on the Intelligence Committee voted to release the memo, they also rejected a proposal to release the Democrats’ memo at the same time.

    Consider, first, the obvious timing problem. The Nunes memo begins with a FISA application dated October 21, 2016. That date is significant for a number of reasons. As an initial matter, coming less than 20 days before the election, it seems a particularly poor way of trying to influence the outcome of the election. A FISA application just a few days before November 9 would not actually have produced any evidence until well after the election—making Nunes’ implicit charge of a corrupted investigation chronologically implausible. In addition, the focus on this date has to deal with the uncomfortable fact that the surveillance of Page it authorized started roughly a month after Page officially left the Trump campaign—so, again, it is a poor way of effectuating a bias against Trump to collect evidence relating to the actions of a former campaign volunteer.

    The other timing problem arises from the effort to tie this allegedly flawed FISA application to Deputy Attorney General Rosenstein. Of course, before the election Rosenstein wasn’t the deputy attorney general—he was a U.S. attorney for the district of Maryland. To link him to the earlier “Steele-based” October application, the Nunes memo has to tie that original application to the application for a renewal of the FISA surveillance order that Rosenstein authorized in 2017, after he was appointed by President Trump and confirmed by the Senate.
    In the mean time two Russian officials who came to Washington were Alexander V. Bortnikov, who runs the Federal Security Bureau, the domestic intelligence service that is the successor to the K.G.B., and Sergey Naryshkin, the chief of the Russian Foreign Intelligence Service, who both were placed under sanctions by the American government. And sanctions against Russia passed last year by the Republican controlled congress over Russian interference in the US elections has not been implemented by Trump. No one at the WH would confirm or deny whether sanctions were discussed.

    President Donald Trump and Congressional Republicans are doing Putin’s job for him by releasing the Nunes memo, said John McCain on Friday afternoon.
    “The latest attacks on the FBI and Department of Justice serve no American interests – no party’s, no president’s, only Putin’s,” the Arizona Republican senator tweeted.

    Just to put it in perspective, if a Democratic representative had written a memo in defense of Clinton on Bengasi – what weight would you give it?

    Donald Trump was an adult during Watergate. He should remember that Nixon’s problem was not the break-in to the DNC offices, it was the cover-up

    Finally the FISA court approves over 99% of the applications. The Republican congress had a chance recently to change the rules as the legislation needed to be renewed, they did not. The Dems offered some amendments to make the process more transparent, the Republicans did not pass them.