I spent a good portion of free time yesterday watching MSNBC trying to understand the objection and response to the memo outlining FISA abuses in the Trump/Russia investigation that was released by the House Intelligence Committee. Here are a few points that I picked out of what seemed like an incoherent jumble of rhetoric:
- It makes the FBI look bad all for the purpose of saving Donald Trump
- It’s a pretense for firing Mueller, supposedly guilt by association
- It contains cherry-picked points
First, the memo is narrowly tailored to the treatment of Carter Page, a Trump operative who was accused in the Steele dossier of being a Russian agent, an accusation that was used as justification in the application for the FISA warrant that allowed surveillance only of Carter Page. Carter Page was ground zero in the investigation, so to speak.
The memo states that this warrant that expires every 90-days was renewed three times with no change in the justification provided. And this is important because:
- Members of the FBI and DOJ have testified to the House Intel. Committee that they were aware the accusation was fabricated
- Exculpatory evidence regarding Carter Page came to light after the warrant was granted, though the FBI renewed the warrant
- It’s difficult to surveil a single person in a bubble and the FBI obtained information not permitted with the warrant.
The abuse of the FISA process here is simply breathtaking, and this is before the fact that FBI also paid Steele for the dossier, in addition to Fusion GPS that was paid by the DNC and Hillary campaign is taken into consideration. Taxpayer money was used to create salacious accusations that were used as justification for the warrant – manufactured “probable cause.”
So what I am hearing in the argument that the memo throws the FBI under the bus to save Trump, or rather the end justifies the means, is horrendously absurd. If the FBI did this to Carter Page and then leveraged the illegal warrant to expand its investigation of Trump, it has reached a rather deplorable depth of depravity that does not represent justice in any stretch of the imagination, and other facts about the case do not matter. There is nothing lofty in dirty cops.
The memo makes no mention of Mueller at all. Though, if the investigation was illegal to begin with, it is hard to imagine a reasonable justification for Mueller’s investigation continuing with near zero chance of anyone ever being convicted even in the face of overwhelming evidence of wrongdoing should any exist (think O.J. Simpson).
The FISA abuse memo is well tailored to a single topic that has overarching impact to the concept of justice. It points out abuses at the heart of the matter that impact everything else. Nothing more is needed to get the point that this investigation has nothing at all to do with justice, but is concerned only with politics.
The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no Warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by Oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized.