Muftic: Winners, losers of the Nunes memo
February 5, 2018
There are several takes on winners and losers in the "Nunes memo" fiasco.
The "memo" was put forth by Rep. Devin Nunes, chair of the House Intelligence Committee, after cutting out or squelching objections by the United States intelligence community, the Department of Justice, and the committee's Democratic members. If the memo was a bombshell as the right wing claims, the shrapnel hit the wrong target: American national security interests and the credibility of the GOP House Intelligence Committee and its chair.
The only winner was Putin per a press release from Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.), chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee, who commented that the Russians succeeded in a goal of "fueling political discord and dividing us from one another." He continued: "The latest attacks on the FBI and Department of Justice serve no American interests — no party's, no president's, only Putin's. The American people deserve to know all of the facts surrounding Russia's ongoing efforts to subvert our democracy, which is why Special Counsel Mueller's investigation must proceed unimpeded. Our nation's elected officials, including the president, must stop looking at this investigation through the warped lens of politics and manufacturing partisan sideshows. If we continue to undermine our own rule of law, we are doing Putin's job for him."
The right-leaning media was taking a victory lap.
Some claimed it hurt the FBI and helped Donald Trump. Others touted transparency the winner even though the memo was attacked as misleading. The Washington Times claims the winners were the American people who know now how the FISA courts work and how the FBI works with them. By Nunes outing information based on classified documents, not only does the American public know a bit more about FISA warrants, so do Russian intelligence services, who were running bots in United States' social media promoting the release of the memo.
Who were other losers?
Lost is the entire credibility of the GOP led House Intelligence Committee due to its partisanship and refusal to let the minority party rebut before the "memo" was released. Forget the committee's marching orders to come up with ways to prevent foreign powers from interfering in our elections or even to provide bi-partisan oversight of the intelligence community. They have destroyed their non-partisan credibility to carry out such functions.
Trump media, the White House and the GOP were piously claiming this memo has nothing to do with the Special Counsel Muller's investigation while celebrating it damaged the FBI. Don't kid yourself. This was all about impeachment. Donald Trump saw it. He was quick to tweet the memo vindicated him. It did not, but what it did do was to paint Deputy Attorney Rod Rosenstein as corrupt and incompetent as a possible pretext for Trump to fire him. A new deputy attorney general loyal to Trump or caving into White House demands could put pressure on Special Counsel Robert Mueller to resign and/or hamstring the investigation.
Another loser was Nunes. He was exposed as an intellectually dishonest partisan by making his whole memo case resting on the controversial Steele dossier as the only element presented by the FBI as their case for renewing a FISA warrant for surveillance of Carter Page. The Department of Justice warned Nunes in advance that the memo omitted information which included any other evidence presented to the FISA Court. One premise advanced by Nunes was that the FBI failed to tell the FISA court the dossier was funded by political partisans. At least three major media investigative reporters tapping various sources confirm that the filings did cite a partisan origin,of the Steele dossier, though it did not name the partisan sources.
The memo's last paragraph shoots down a major GOP argument that the entire Russian "witch hunt" was based on the Steele dossier. The memo admits that the reason the FBI got involved in the investigation into Russian interference was not Steele or Carter Page: it was the Australian ambassador's report of a conversation with George Papadapoulis.
Further weakening the GOP argument is that there are numerous press reports that Page's Russian connections were on FBI radar long before the Steele dossier came to light. Page is only one of many being investigated with contacts with the Russians. Papadapoulis has already pleaded guilty for lying about his Russian connections and has turned state's witness as has Mike Flynn, former White House national security adviser.
The Mueller investigation is hardly over.
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