Published: Sun, February 11, 2018
World | By Paul Elliott

Why the Nunes memo is a dud

Why the Nunes memo is a dud

President Donald Trump on Saturday accused the Democrats of playing politics with classified information, asserting that their memo countering GOP allegations about the conduct of the FBI's Russian Federation probe was a trap meant to "blame the White House for lack of transparency".

Bureau officials, majority Republicans, are stunned to discover that the Bureau's tactics have been turned against it in the service of protecting President Trump from criticism and investigation.

The "Nunes memo" basically accused the FBI of politicizing its investigation by citing $160,000 worth of political opposition research into then-candidate Trump by former British intelligence officer Christopher Steele and a company called Fusion GPS - ultimately paid for by Hillary Clinton's campaign and the Democratic National Committee - in its application for the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) court to authorize the wiretapping of a member of the Trump campaign team.

"Although the President is inclined to declassify the February 5th memorandum, because the Memorandum contains numerous properly classified and especially sensitive passages, he is unable to do so at this time", wrote White House Counsel Donald McGahn.

Last week, Mr. Trump declassified a memo by Republicans on the House Intelligence Committee that leveled similar allegations to those posed by Mr. Grassley and Mr.

"It appears that either Mr. Steele lied to the Federal Bureau of Investigation or the British court, or that the classified [FBI] documents reviewed by the committee contain materially false statements", states the letter.

Last week, the Republican memo from the House intelligence committee provided the first formal government confirmation of a secret FISA warrant on Page and several other key details. If he objects to the release or redacts portions of it, the House Intelligence Committee could vote to override his objections. At issue is a Yahoo News article that revealed US intelligence agencies were looking into Trump associate Carter Page, an article they say was based off intel Steele gave them. It was created for the Democratic National Committee and Hillary Clinton's 2016 presidential campaign with one objective - to discredit Trump as a presidential candidate.

House Democratic leader Nancy Pelosi of California said the move is "part of a risky and desperate pattern of cover-up on the part of the president".

Rachel Marsden is a columnist, political strategist and former Fox News host based in Paris.

The memo itself focuses on the FBI's actions when seeking a warrant to wiretap former Trump campaign adviser Carter Page, specifically in the application for a Foreign Intelligence Surveillance court (FISA) authorization.

Such warrants can be sought by the government, which must persuade special FISA Court judges surveillance is needed to safeguard US national security.

House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi attempted to bring up a "privileged resolution" criticizing the Nunes memo release, but it was ruled out of order in the Republican-controlled House of Representatives.

Democrats say the GOP memo contradicts its own premise that the Russian Federation investigation began with Page and the dossier. Page joined the Trump campaign in 2016 and went to Moscow to give a lecture. A spokesperson for Republican Senator Rob Portman says they don't have information on the President's proposal for staging a military parade but the senator supports efforts to thank the military. I don't know how you can make 10 pages much more brief but I guess if you take a note from the Nunes memo, making it three and a half pages full of nonsense is a great way to start.

"We think this (Democratic memo) will help inform the public of the many distortions and inaccuracies in the (Republican) memo", Schiff told reporters after Monday's vote.

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