back to article Nunes FBI memo: Yep, it's every bit as terrible as you imagined

Friday morning, as expected, the US House Intelligence Committee released a four-page memo outlining what it claims is evidence that the Department of Justice (DoJ) and the FBI illegally requested that a former advisor to President Trump be put under surveillance. The document [PDF] has been the source of frenzied attention …

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  1. JohnFen Silver badge

    Really?

    So, that's the bombshell memo?? Seriously, if that accurately outlines their case of misbehavior on the part of the FBI, then they've got nothing.

    1. tom dial Silver badge

      Re: Really?

      While that is pretty much correct in operational terms, what the memo outlines with factual statements (which may be untrue or overstate) and hints at is a possibly unseemly combination of carelessness and eagerness do dig up dirt about activities that, although they appear questionable, are not illegal in themselves and could as well be innocent (at least insofar as that could apply to dealings with some of the individuals named in the "dossier.")

      If the FBI were seeking a FISA warrant against me, I would be unhappy if the same questions could be raised with any plausibility.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Really?

        Would you expect people to take those concerns so seriously if you were the one raising those questions? Nunes was part of the transition team at the time, why would we expect his opinion to carry any particular weight? If he were testifying it'd be a different story, but there's a certain Big Lebowski line that comes to mind here.

    2. Archtech Silver badge

      Re: Really?

      So you think that a serious criminal case can be based on a dossier full of absurd allegations written by someone who publicly admits that not all of it is true ("Christopher Steele believes his dossier on Trump-Russia is 70-90% accurate")?

      https://www.theguardian.com/us-news/2017/nov/15/christopher-steele-trump-russia-dossier-accurate

      A dossier that was actually paid for by the target's political enemies?

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Really?

        Uhh, you just answered your own question. Yes, some of the dossier is unverified. Likewise some of it is and was only accepted by the FBI because it corroborated evidence they had already obtained. By the way, Rosenstein didn't authorize the FISA order itself, he authorized an application to *extend* the FISA order, which requires presenting evidence obtained in the previous 90 days, to show that the warrant is producing admissible evidence.

        As for it being paid for by the Clinton campaign, it isn't particularly relevant. You don't limit evidence in a criminal case to people who like the defendant, what matters is whether the information can be verified. Aside from that, Steele was hired by FusionGPS, not the Democrats directly. Since he was hired before Trump was nominated, Steele wouldn't have known who the dossier was for unless FusionGPS explicitly told him. Arguably that would have breached their client's privacy, and I can't think of any reason they would need him to know.

        1. Jonathan Schwatrz
          Stop

          Re: Burser Re: Really?

          ".....some of the dossier is unverified....." Really? Please supply details of a single claim from the dossier that has been irrefutably verified. Even the original Steele/Orbis reports are unconfirmed and are based on hearsay/rumours from Russian "sources", without a single piece of actually confirmatory evidence.

          1. Big John Silver badge

            Re: Burser Really?

            And yet it was used to justify putting the FBI itself onto Trump well before the election. So apparently a judge was found that saw the dossier as fully believable.

            At the extreme edge of the bell curve for judges, no doubt.

            1. tom dial Silver badge

              Re: Burser Really?

              Orin Kerr, a real lawyer with considerable knowledge of fourth amendment law, commented on this last Wednesday at Lawfare (before "the memo" was released). My take on his analysis is that the an ordinarily attentive judge knowing of Steele's bias probably would have allowed it, although lack of independent corroboration by other material in the application might have pushed him or her the other way. The full post is at

              https://lawfareblog.com/dubious-legal-claim-behind-releasethememo

              The memo is written to suggest corroboration was lacking, but not quite come out and say so, simply noting that one thing mentioned, the Isikoff Yahoo article, did not provide independent corroboration because it led back to Steele. We don't know what else in the application might have done so, although we know that some of the Steele material was publicly available before the "dossier" was produced.

          2. wallaby

            Re: Burser Really?

            "Even the original Steele/Orbis reports are unconfirmed and are based on hearsay/rumours from Russian "sources""

            No matter,

            if someone is alleged of collusion with foreign agents by people from that country, then it has to be investigated regardless of whether you think the chances of it being real are 0%

            Its the old Michael Jackson thing all over again.

            Jacko is accused of something, his fans all say nay, his detractors all say yay

            Trump fans will never agree that these need to be investigated and his constant attempts to subvert the course of justice certainly say something to me.

            Open the doors, let them in, if you've nothing to hide they will go away - simples

          3. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: Burser Really?

            Even if the Steele dossier contained unverified allegations isn't it necessary for the FBI to verify the truth about the allegations since, if they're true, they could open up Trump to blackmail and compromise US national security, etc.?

        2. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Really?

          No, the FBI tacitly accepts that NONE of it is true, they've verified nothing of substance in well over a year of investigating. It corroborates nothing.

          It is extremely relevant that it was paid for by Clinton, and it was, the use of cut outs like Perkins Coie (and that expense was illegally attributed to "legal expenses" and Fusion GPS in no way mitigates the source of the money. Steele knew exactly what he was investigating and for who as well.

          Just to spice it up, Steele himself can't visit Russia, he's banned from travelling there. He also claimed to used information from senior Russian officials who are still active in the Putin administration. Now if you think for one moment that the Russian FSB were not aware of his enquiries then there's this bridge that you might be interested in buying. So the Dossier actually represents material vetted and approved by the Russian secret service being used to attempt to unseat the legally elected US President.

          And you think that isn't a big deal, wow, just wow.

        3. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: [Burser] Really?

          [Burser] "As for it being paid for by the Clinton campaign, it isn't particularly relevant. You don't limit evidence in a criminal case to people who like the defendant"

          It was more than being paid for by the Clinton Campaign. The Clinton Campaign was also dictating information to Steele to include in the document, that information was merged with Russian Propaganda. (It is unclear whether Steele was fed the Russian Propaganda by the Clinton Campaign, since he may have been banned from going to Russia at the time.) An FBI agent, involved in investigation, also had his wife "paid off" by receiving payments by the Clinton Campaign, via the same opposition research group.

          One seeks a FISA warrant based U.S. intelligence & evidence, which is independently corroborated.

          In the U.S., one does not: seek a FISA warrants based upon political party opposition research & dictated information from the same opposition political party; tainting an FBI "investigator" by paying his wife by the same opposition research company; submit it to a judge without full disclosure; use internet news articles that originated from the person receiving the dictation; wiretap the opposing political party campaign during the election cycle. One does not do this FOUR TIMES.

          In the U.S. - this is referred to as Conflict of Interest, possibly Bribery, Fraud.

          In the best case, the judge was deceived. In the worst case, the judge was complicit, by willfully not desiring to ask why Internet News Articles were used to corroborate opposition research, by not asking the level of participation of the political party, by not asking who the source of the information was in the Yahoo News article.

          This is something done in Third World Nations.

      2. ravenstar68

        Re: Really?

        It should be pointed out that Fusion GPS was initially paid by the Washington Free Beacon from Oct 2015 to May 2016 to conduct opposition research on Trump and other candidates for the 2016 Election.

        They were confident in hiring the company then, it's only when the Steele dossier was produced that they claimed Fusion GPS was unreliable.

        As for the Steele dossier parts of it have been corroborated by the intelligence services. and Carter Page was an item of interest as long ago as 2013.

        Also bear in mind Carter Page has testified before the Senate Intelligence Committee and some of his testimony doesn't paint him in a particularly favourable light.

        1. Naselus Silver badge

          Re: Really?

          "As for the Steele dossier parts of it have been corroborated by the intelligence services. and Carter Page was an item of interest as long ago as 2013."

          Indeed. And this was the third FISA re-application. Each re-application must show that the previous FISA surveillance of the target has yielded results - so Page had already been under surveillance, which had shown results, for about a year at the time of the application where the Steele dossier was included.

          So yeah, this memo is so full of shit it should be called Sean Hannity.

        2. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Really?

          Big different between paying Fusion GPS to consolidate public information on a bunch of candidates vs. paying Fusion GPS to get dirt on an opponent.

          I think you should let your plumber replace your roof. After all, you seem comfortable paying him/her for other services.

    3. bombastic bob Silver badge
      Flame

      Re: Really?

      here in the USA, and particularly on the Fox network, this story broke nearly a YEAR ago. Hannity is a very good source on this topic. But when I detail things such AS naming specifics about the gross inaccuracy and (alleged) fabrication of the Steele dossier, who bought and paid for it, I may be violating UK libel laws or something, and so my post would be rejected on that basis.

      So it's hard to correct the obvious errors about "the memo" or "the dossier" if I can't say anything in a counterpoint.

      However, you can _EASILY_ go over nearly a years' worth of Hannity's broadcasts over on the Fox news site, or read what he had to say about it over on hannity.com ...

      1. Rob D. Bronze badge
        Facepalm

        Hannity? Really?

        Hannity? A source? Of information? Real information? That's Sean Hannity, yes? From Fox News? Providing usable facts and evidence for over a year? And, gasp, it's all available for us to read?

        Oh dear, things were going so well but I've just lost a kidney and half my spleen in a bout of uncontrolled laughter.

        Wow. Hannity and his impressive track record of providing solid information, accurate insight and analysis. Who'd have thought of that one?

      2. Alistair Silver badge

        Re: Really?

        There lies your problem Bob. Hannity. Fox. *almost* but not quite as accurate as Mr Steele.

        Steele was an investigator hired to find dirt, period. Fox and Hannity are entertainers hired to provide entertainment.

        1. jake Silver badge

          Re: Really?

          "Fox and Hannity are entertainers hired to invent dirty entertainment."

          FTFY.

          For small values of "entertainment", of course.

      3. JohnFen Silver badge

        Re: Really?

        "Hannity is a very good source on this topic."

        Hannity is not a good source on any topic.

    4. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Really?

      So you are OK with the FBI using Russian FSB supplied information (and that's collusion right there) paid for by the Clinton campaign to spy on the Trump campaign ?

      Perhaps you could list what items in the Steele Dossier have been verified - even now, 18 or so months later. Short answer, nothing of any significance - about the only apparently verified item in the dossier is that Carter Page travelled to Moscow - but got wrong who he met with.

      Page himself was involved in a 2013 Russian Recruitment scandal where the FBI was investigating, he was under surveillance at that time, but was never charged so apparently resisted the attempt to recruit him.

      Finally, lets take your argument that there's nothing in the memo of consequence. Why then was Adam Schiff and the FBI and DOJ so adamant that it should not be released, that it would betray secrets ? There's nothing at all about methods, it mentions the FISA court but that's hardly a secret. To put it bluntly, if this is a nothing then the FBI, DOJ, and the Democrats have all been flat out lying about it for weeks. If it was as "nothing" as you want to claim, they should have welcomed its release.

      1. tom dial Silver badge

        Re: Really?

        Adam Schiff's obvious motives are to help explain away the embarrassing Clinton election loss and to damage the Trump administration. The obvious motive a DoJ and FBI are that the Nunes memo stakes claims that amount to the FBI and DoJ controls over warrant applications are either weaker than they would have us believe (and that we would want them to be) or subject to partisan use in some circumstances. Or both. Either, if true, would be a major stain on the organizations that they would go to great lengths to avoid.

    5. Faux Science Slayer

      "From JFK to 9/11, Everything is a Rich Man's Trick" documentary on YouTube

      Only in a BBC nurtured fake paradigm reality can one assume honesty by the FBI or CIA....

  2. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Opinion poll proxy vote!

    "He put his own personal goals ahead of the country's. And frankly no patriot wants to see that in their president."

    1. Destroy All Monsters Silver badge

      Re: Opinion poll proxy vote!

      I don't see what role FDR plays in this discussion?

    2. Pen-y-gors Silver badge

      Re: Opinion poll proxy vote!

      ...or in their Prime Minister. Sadly I can't remember a PM who didn't put self and party before country, particularly the most recent ones.

    3. Pascal Monett Silver badge

      He's been doing that since Day 1 and he will never stop because that's just how he is. He doesn't know any different.

    4. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Opinion poll proxy vote!

      No, we don't want to see it in our president. But we also see it in his detractors. Both sides of the aisle, politicians would rather tear the presidency apart for their own self-serving goals than do what is right for the country. It's been that way for decades. The press, charged with keeping politicians honest by holding them to task, would rather make up false facts and intentionally twist real ones to produce stories for their shock value instead of doing real journalism. The problem with "shock" news is that after awhile it loses its shock value. Trump tweeted? who cares, The country has suffered worse.

      So no, we don't want to see it in our president -- but why should we expect him to be any different than every other politician in Washington?

      There are real journalists in politics, but they are few and far between that they become unidentifiable when they are thrown in with the hacks that pretend to be journalists - and the papers for which they write don't want to publish real journalism because click-bait pays better.

      Trump was elected because people have decided in overwhelming numbers that they can't trust the press, can't trust the established politicians, and want the real change that they have been promised time and time again. They knew he is a an arrogant tool -- they knew he wasn't a statesman -- and yet they elected him anyway. Instead of self-inspection and asking how they failed, they want to blame anyone and everyone except themselves for creating the situation that allowed Trump to fall into power.

      1. Big John Silver badge

        Re: Opinion poll proxy vote!

        > "They knew he is a an arrogant tool..."

        Uh uh. We know no such thing.

        YOU know it. ;-/

        1. FrozenShamrock

          Re: Opinion poll proxy vote!

          He has always been an arrogant tool, and he will always be an arrogant tool regardless of his politics. he was an arrogant tool when twice fined for discrimination in his housing, he was an arrogant tool in his business bankruptcies, he was an arrogant tool in stiffing countless small contractors on his mega projects, he was an arrogant tool during his adulteries and all of that happened long before taking his arrogance into politics.

      2. wallaby

        Re: Opinion poll proxy vote!

        "So no, we don't want to see it in our president -- but why should we expect him to be any different than every other politician in Washington?"

        Poor reason to put up with a guy who is so blatantly pursuing his own self serving agenda.

      3. Naselus Silver badge

        Re: Opinion poll proxy vote!

        "So no, we don't want to see it in our president -- but why should we expect him to be any different than every other politician in Washington?"

        Possibly because his entire platform as to why people should have voted for him was 'I'm an outsider and not like those politicians in Washington'?

      4. Stevelane

        Re: Opinion poll proxy vote!

        "Trump was elected because people have decided in overwhelming numbers that they can't trust the press, can't trust the established politicians, and want the real change that they have been promised time and time again. They knew he is an arrogant tool -- they knew he wasn't a statesman -- and yet they elected him anyway."

        Except the people elected Hilary Clinton! But 307 out of 534 Electoral College voters negated the overwhelming will of the people by almost 2,865,000 votes!

        1. kb
          Holmes

          Re: Opinion poll proxy vote!

          NYC and LA voted for Clinton but luckily for the USA there is this thing called the electoral college put there for PRECISELY this reason, to keep one or two large cities from being able to control the will of the entire country.

          If you take the votes from NYC and LA out of the equation? Hillary lost by a landslide. Look at the map, how many states actually voted for her? Not even close, not by a long shot which was why Hillary didn't contest.

          BTW you should look up her popularity numbers from 2015 to 2016, because the day she announced? Her popularity was a whopping...16%, by the day before the election, with every news org owned by the large corps she sucked up to singing her praises 24/7 for nearly 2 years? Her popularity was...15%. Sorry Charlie but the rotting corpse of Richard Nixon could have won against Shillary, she was an arrogant elitist corporate suck up that rigged the primary against the actually popular candidate, bought the DNC, and despite having every advantage lost the majority of states by a HUGE margin.

          1. FrozenShamrock

            Re: Opinion poll proxy vote!

            So, instead of allowing the majority of Americans to control the outcome we allow a minority of semi-literate boneheads to control the outcome. Once you no longer have majority rule you no longer have democracy. We have become no more than another balkanized state where representation is based on tribe.

            1. Anonymous Coward
              Anonymous Coward

              Re: Opinion poll proxy vote!

              Once you no longer have majority rule you no longer have democracy

              I suppose that is why the United States is not now, nor has it ever been, a "Democracy". It is a FEDERAL system of government. Learn the difference....

            2. PaulFrederick

              Re: Opinion poll proxy vote!

              The United States of America as the name suggests is not a flat democracy, but rather a democratic republic. As such we are not subject to the tyranny of the masses either. That is part of what makes this nation so great. The elaborate system of checks and balances that have been carefully crafted into a system insuring that everyone has a voice. Not just a simple majority.

      5. Alistair Silver badge

        Re: Opinion poll proxy vote!

        Ummm

        "but why should we expect him to be any different than every other politician in Washington?"

        Welll -- this *was* one of the principal planks of his platform I think....

      6. FrozenShamrock

        Re: Opinion poll proxy vote!

        He may have gotten far more votes than intelligence would indicate were possible; but, he lost the popular vote by almost three million.

    5. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Opinion poll proxy vote!

      We're not talking about Obama here, get it right !

  3. handleoclast Silver badge

    How to get rid of fleas on your dog

    Douse it with petrol and set fire to it. No more fleas.

    How to get rid of an investigation into Presidential wrongdoings...

    Answer is left as an exercise for the reader.

    Hint: if your answer includes the word "president" your answer is incorrect, but if it includes the words "FBI" or "Justice Department" you're probably a Republican.

    1. Michael Thibault

      Re: How to end an investigation into possible wrongdoings...

      Demonstrate that its findings would necessarily be the fruit of a poisoned tree?

      Or ask RM. He'll know Shirley... by now... at least!

    2. Mark 85 Silver badge

      Re: How to get rid of fleas on your dog

      The real answer is that you let the investigation run it's course. If all is legal and proper, no problem. If wrongdoing is found, deal with it and pay the consequences. There's an old saying "where there's smoke, there's fire" and there's been an unbelievable amount of smoke over this issue.

      1. Michael Thibault

        Re: How to get rid of fleas on your dog

        >There's an old saying "where there's smoke, there's fire" and there's been an unbelievable amount of smoke over this issue.

        And, from (y)our vantage point, how do you distinguish smoke from fog?

        While I agree about "run it's course" et seq., wrongdoing can also be found that is procedural -- which, like it or not, favourable or otherwise, torpedoes any case that may be brought about by such an investigation.

        1. jake Silver badge

          Re: How to get rid of fleas on your dog

          "how do you distinguish smoke from fog?"

          Here in California, fog smells clean, like the ocean. Fires of late really stink. This positively reeks.

          1. Michael Thibault

            Re: How to get rid of fleas on your dog

            You can "smell" DC all the way from California? Better than anyone between those points? You've got your beak in the underlying background evidence and the testimony to make the claim? OK, whatevs, dude. However, the stench might just as easily be localized to the bad actors in the narrative implied by (the perceived need to write) the memo. We'll have to await more information. Apparently -- and necessarily -- there is more than what's currently in the public sensorium...

        2. jake Silver badge

          Re: How to get rid of fleas on your dog

          "wrongdoing can also be found that is procedural -- which, like it or not, favourable or otherwise, torpedoes any case that may be brought about by such an investigation."

          So you're saying that the Idiot In Chief's defense is "Even if I did collude with the Russians to throw the election, you can't do anything about it because the FBI are a bunch of evil meany poo-poo-heads"?

          Works for me. Elections are coming.

          1. Michael Thibault

            Re: How to get rid of fleas on your dog

            Indictments, so far, number zero (0). Directly-related indictments, that is. Collusion -- so far -- has not even been demonstrated. Collusion is not a crime, btw -- but conspiracy most definitely is. Remember that distinction. And the definitive take on vote-rigging? Well, let's acknowledge that, as in any election, there's a lot of bluster. That subject is open still.

            Many seem assiduously to be avoiding the issue of the potential for procedural irregularities in the foundations of the process that set up (used advisedly) the Special Prosecutor's investigation (the one currently with RM as lead dog). This avoidance seems to me to be rooted in wishful thinking, a fevered hope that their least-favourite candidate -- now POTUS -- face almost any kind of misfortune...

            1. Sam 15

              Re: How to get rid of fleas on your dog

              "Indictments, so far, number zero (0). Directly-related indictments, that is. Collusion -- so far -- has not even been demonstrated. "

              What!

              You've been pregnant for over six months!

              Common now, where's the baby then huh?

              Fake News!

            2. Naselus Silver badge

              Re: How to get rid of fleas on your dog

              "Collusion -- so far -- has not even been demonstrated."

              Well, except that bit where the Russians asked Don Junior if he fancied trying to collude with them, and he said 'I love it'.

              I do wonder where the Republican definition of collusion is going to end up. Pretty soon, we'll reach the point where anything short of directly recruiting Putin as your campaign manager is 'No collusion!'.

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