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 …

  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!'.

              1. PaulFrederick

                Re: How to get rid of fleas on your dog

                Do you know how those same Russians were admitted into the United States? I mean they were foreigners and foreigners can't just waltz into the country legally. So then the question remains which administration was in power that gave them the permission to enter the country? That would be Obama. Because he was in power when that meeting took place. So that whole meeting was a trap setup by the Democrats in the first place! That's collusion right there. Members of Obama's administration colluded with foreign agents to entrap people in the opposition campaign.

                Oh, and by the way just listening to people is not a crime.

        3. Mark 85 Silver badge

          Re: How to get rid of fleas on your dog

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

          True, it could be either/or and even both. Thus, it needs to be investigated. I think the most FBI types are open-minded and impartial professionally. Person opinions may cloud things, but with a number of eyes, both side will counter each others pre-conceptions and reveal the truth. We're still a long way from knowing the truth at this time.

        4. DavCrav Silver badge

          Re: How to get rid of fleas on your dog

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

          Fog is white or light grey, smoke is dark grey or black. And to be honest, the black stuff looks billowing. "Of course I did nothing wrong, that's why I fired the guy investigating me. To prove that to everyone. As I know I'm innocent, it's just a waste of everyone's time and money. Trust me!"

      2. handleoclast Silver badge

        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.

        More than smoke. Actual fire. The Republicans are happy to trash the reputation of the FBI and intelligence agencies and to reveal operational details that will make them less effective. This to me, seems to be the equivalent of ridding your dog of fleas with petrol and a match (a point which has gone over the heads of 12 people so far).

        It's hard to imagine even Republicans being so stupid as to cause this much damage if Trump has done nothing wrong. If Trump has done nothing wrong then let the investigation complete, laugh when it finds nothing, and point to the Democrats as being paranoid loons.

        Of course, if you throw enough shit then some people remember the shit even if none of it stuck to the wall. As Republicans have frequently demonstrated in the past, with things such as Whitewater, Benghazi, and Uranium One. Some Republican voters still believe those things even though they've been thoroughly debunked. So I can see Republicans worrying that some people would vote based on what Trump has been accused of rather than what he may eventually be convicted of. But this is insane overkill. The equivalent of setting fire to your dog to rid it of fleas.

        When the attempts to divert, distract and deny are this frenziedly crazy, it's very likely there's something deeply wrong they're trying to conceal. It's massively disproportionate.

        The second-most likely explanation is that Trump has done nothing that is actually criminal but he is so narcissistic he cannot permit anything even slightly detrimental to his reputation to be revealed, so has coerced Nunes and others into this shitshow. Even if that is the case, it shows that none of them are fit to hold the positions they do. If anything, that would reflect even more badly on Trump. Covering up corruption/treason/whatever is bad enough. Going batshit insane and trashing the reputation of the FBI and the effectiveness of the FBI and intelligence agencies over trivialities would be far worse.

        1. Michael Thibault

          Re: How to get rid of fleas on your dog

          That you state:

          "[Trump] has coerced Nunes and others..."

          suggests to me that you believe it likely that a political outsider, a business figure largely shunned by the East-coast financial set, could beat out more than a dozen intra-party rivals in the primary, then defeat an experienced, familiar political figure, scion of a well-oiled, well-greased political dynasty going back several decades, endure nigh on two years of 90% negative press from the cozy-with-his-opponent media, to enter public office for the first time ever, as POTUS, facing opposition from within his own party, and, in just over a year turn (or, as you say, coerce) significant numbers of ensconced bureaucrats and seasoned, invested politicians to do his capricious bidding.

          Trump is not a god. He's not an emperor. He's not a king. He's not a dictator. He's just the President of the United States.

          Maybe he has a fortune of moral suasion with which to buy people's participation in his plans. If so, you can't nay say any such expenditures -- not in the slightest. But who knows?

          1. handleoclast Silver badge

            Re: How to get rid of fleas on your dog

            @ Michael Thibault

            You pour scorn on the idea that Trump has any influence whatsover, concluding with:

            Trump is not a god. He's not an emperor. He's not a king. He's not a dictator. He's just the President of the United States.

            The thing is that Trump has fired up a significant proportion of the Republican party. His "base." The approximately 30% of the population that are mouth-breathers who feel under attack by a mysterious "them" and fear the "other." And that presents problems for Republicans in Congress. The base determines the outcome of primaries whilst the population as a whole determine the outcome of an election. Any Republican who fails to support Trump completely might do better in an election but would never get past the primary. Any Republican who whole-heartedly support Trump will win the primary but may well lose the election. Rock and a hard place. Most have chosen Trump and are hoping for a hail Mary pass, a significant number have thrown in the towel and aren't seeking re-election.

            Tony Blair once exerted a similar thrall on Labour MPs. They believed that without Tony they'd lose the next election so fell in line with his every moronic whim (such as the Millennium Dome and invading Iraq).

            So yes, Trump does have the power to coerce idiots like Nunes to lick the dog shit off the soles of his shoes. Those who do not comply will lose their primaries. Even though Bannon is (mostly) off the scene, the fear remains.

            I'm trying to remember another populist politician who exerted similar power over the 30% of the population that feared the "other." As I recall, that didn't end well, but he was very popular right up to the very end when he shot himself in his bunker.

        2. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: How to get rid of fleas on your dog

          Funny you should mention Whitewater - you obviously no nothing of the case. In that scam, a couple of bankers defrauded their own bank of millions to bail out a failing real estate project, this in 1988 or so. The bank went broke and the taxpayer bailed it out. The bankers were charged and convicted of fraud. They were advised in their scheme by a lawyer, on Hillary Clinton. The investigators believed that she should be charged but needed one key piece of evidence to tie her to the conspiracy - that she was present at the meetings where the conspiracy was hatched and agreed - specific dates that they had. So they sought the billing records of the law firm Rose Hill. Armed with a warrant the subpoena the billing records of Hillary Clinton, however they found that not only had the firm's computer system had all those records deleted including from any backups, but they backup physical written records were also missing.

          Absent those records the charge against Clinton was going to be harder, and at the same time (1998) the Monica Lewinsky affair emerged and the case against First Lady HRC was allowed to lapse. There was a serious problem too in that the statute of limitations on the case was about to run out.

          The fraud case went ahead against the bankers and they were found guilty, fined, and imprisoned.

          Then after the statute of limitations had expired so no one could be charged for the affair, in a normally disused room in the Whitehouse a collection of papers were discovered that proved to be the missing Rose Hill billing records. I don't think anyone has any doubts about who was responsible for abstracting the records and hiding them from the investigators. A second set actually turned up in Vince Fosters apartment when it was searched after his "suicide".

          Now no action could be brought, but people were able to search the records (the Foster ones, I think the Whitehouse ones were disposed off promptly) and they found that on the two days that the investigators alleged that the conspiracy was created, attending those meetings were the two bankers - and their lawyer Hillary Clinton - at least she charged the bankers for time spent at those meetings.

          So she was involved in a criminal conspiracy to defraud a bank which caused the federal government (taxpayer) to have to bail out the depositors. She was not charged because she willfully obstructed Justice by removing records subject to a subpoena (now where does that sound familiar with HRC, emails anyone ?).

          Still prepared to think it was a Republican stitch up. I used to think that Whitewater was a big partisan nothing until all the facts finally became available. That made it clear that Clinton was criminally involved in defrauding a bank and escaped only because of her obstruction of justice and the good fortune of a sort that brought Monica Lewinsky as a new focus for the investigation just as it was getting close to exposing her peculations.

          Uranium One, you need education on that too but this post is already too long. Uranium One was just the final act to launder the profits on the Khazak Uranium assets abstracted from the Khazak state by corrupt bureaucrats who sold them to a Canadian businessman for a song - a few million for assets finally disposed of for $3B. And Bill Clinton was involved in the original transaction to get hold of the assets. The US Uranium assets are a side show, the illegally gained Khazak mines were the real prize. And the Canadian magnate who made all the money ? Donated $145M at least to the Clinton Foundation, quite for what one can't imagine...

          1. FrozenShamrock

            Re: How to get rid of fleas on your dog

            All irrelevant to the discussion at hand. Clinton is no saint but that has nothing to do with Trump obstructing justice. That is like defending Charles Manson by saying the SLA kidnapped Patty Hearst and robbed banks. Separate crimes with no relation to each other.

      3. Lars Johansson
        Coat

        Re: How to get rid of fleas on your dog

        @Mark 85

        "where there's smoke, there's fire"

        You obviously have never been in the Boy/Girl Scouts...

        1. jake Silver badge

          Re: How to get rid of fleas on your dog

          Yeahbut ... That's hormones, not politics.

          Oh, wait ...

    3. Sanguma
      Paris Hilton

      Re: 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..."

      Douse President with petrol and set fire to it? seems a bit extreme, if you ask me. Still, it takes all types, and some Presidents, to appear Presidential, will demand it as their only rightful due ...

      One would expect the average American would be in fact proud of his be-fleed President, as no other nation in the world dares yet elect a President with flees It's a feather in their cap!

      1. wallaby

        Re: How to get rid of fleas on your dog

        "One would expect the average American would be in fact proud of his be-fleed President, as no other nation in the world dares yet elect a President with flees It's a feather in their cap!"

        In the UK we have Boris

        We have little room to talk

    4. Robert Carnegie Silver badge

      Re: How to get rid of fleas on your dog

      Nixon was tossed out then pardoned by the next President, wasn't he? So that works. But then you get Mike Pence. And the Apocalypse.

      President Trump proposed pardoning himself. That would be ludicrous and I want to see it.

      1. FrozenShamrock

        Re: How to get rid of fleas on your dog

        Nixon was impeached not for Watergate break in but for the cover up. Of course, back then Congressional Republicans had enough decency to think of the bigger Constitutional issues and not just immediate political contests. Whether Trump is guilty of anything has not yet been proven; but, Congressional Republicans (especially in the House) have demonstrated they no longer care about the country, only party and themselves.

      2. PaulFrederick

        Re: How to get rid of fleas on your dog

        Nixon resigned. Are people really this ignorant today?

  4. Eddy Ito Silver badge

    Yawn, interesting timing. Given the Super Bowl is this Sunday, what do you think will dominate the coming news cycle and has dominated water cooler chatter for the past few days. I'll guess it will either be Philly's first SB victory or Brady's 6th SB ring.

    1. BillG Silver badge
      Megaphone

      @Eddy Ilto wrote: Given the Super Bowl is this Sunday, what do you think will dominate the coming news cycle

      You don't think politics is a sport? Aren't there people that root for their political party the same way others root for their team?

      1. Unicornpiss Silver badge
        Meh

        Superbowl..

        "You don't think politics is a sport? Aren't there people that root for their political party the same way others root for their team?"

        Yeah, but the Superbowl's halftime commercials are way better than the political ads. Maybe if the same effort and spirit were applied to political ads in an election year the whole process would make me somewhat less nauseous.

        1. jake Silver badge

          Re: Superbowl..

          What are these things you speak of called "commercials" and "ads"?

    2. JohnFen Silver badge
      Angel

      "and has dominated water cooler chatter for the past few days"

      You may be right in most workplaces, but not in mine. Nobody has mentioned the Super Bowl even once. I was even genuinely unaware it was due until today.

      1. jake Silver badge

        What JohnFen said.

        The Stupid Brawl is a couple decades past it's sell-by date.

    3. PhilBuk

      You got me there Eddy. I recall that when I was in Philadelphia (in the late 70s) that the baseball team was the Phillys and the NFL team was the Eagles. A quick search and I was assured that my memory is not failing.

      Phil.

  5. Tomato42 Silver badge

    Fake controversy

    Republicans, the party that denies scientific facts, uses lies to further their agenda?

    I was more surprised by the sun raising in the morning.

    1. Archtech Silver badge

      Re: Fake controversy

      As a matter of interest, which "scientific facts" are you talking about?

      1. Pen-y-gors Silver badge

        Re: Fake controversy

        @architech

        How long have you got?

        1. Archtech Silver badge

          Re: Fake controversy

          That's not an answer to my question.

          Have you got an answer?

          1. Archtech Silver badge

            Re: Fake controversy

            I'll take that as a "no".

          2. Tomato42 Silver badge

            Re: Fake controversy

            @Archtech Global Warming for one

            1. PaulFrederick

              Re: Fake controversy

              There is no scientific proof that global climate change is due to human activity. And even if there was what can anyone do about it? If you want to be useful then come up with a practical solution. Otherwise stuff a sock in it already. Because we're already doing the absolute best that we can right now. But if you think you can do better then show me.

              1. wallaby

                Re: Fake controversy

                "There is no scientific proof that global climate change is due to human activity. And even if there was what can anyone do about it? If you want to be useful then come up with a practical solution. Otherwise stuff a sock in it already. Because we're already doing the absolute best that we can right now. But if you think you can do better then show me."

                and the earth is flat and dinosaurs ruled the world only ............ well today in the US anyway

              2. Tomato42 Silver badge

                Re: Fake controversy

                @PaulFrederik

                Quote:

                "Anthropogenic greenhouse gas emissions have increased since the pre-industrial era, driven largely by economic and population growth, and are now higher than ever. This has led to atmospheric concentrations of carbon dioxide, methane and nitrous oxide that are unprecedented in at least the last 800,000 years. Their effects, together with those of other anthropogenic drivers, have been detected throughout the climate system and are extremely likely to have been the dominant cause of the observed warming since the mid-20th century."

                https://www.ipcc.ch/pdf/assessment-report/ar5/syr/SYR_AR5_FINAL_full_wcover.pdf

    2. FozzyBear Silver badge
      Devil

      Re: Fake controversy

      And the democrats don't! They're politicians! Everything any politician says is said to further their own agenda Anything that comes out of their mouths needs to be taken with an oceans worth of salt.

  6. DougS Silver badge

    This memo is great!

    It hits on all counts. It makes Nunes look like the foolish toady he is. It doesn't give Trump the excuse to fire Rosenstein he was hoping for - in fact it makes that even more difficult now with the transparent shenanigans that went into releasing this. It makes the Fox News talking heads who have been banging on its for release thinking it will save Trump from Mueller look pathetic for having championed such a dud.

    Most importantly though it shines a bright light on the FISA court that the FBI has been trying to keep under wraps for years - to the point that they have dropped charges to avoid making public the inner workings of the process.

    1. tom dial Silver badge

      Re: This memo is great!

      The FISA process, as described in the linked oregonlive.com article (from 2013) and implicit in the Nunes memo, does not appear to be materially different from other warrant seeking and granting processes. The primary differences are (a) higher level and possibly greater review requirements preliminary to submission and (b) that the proceedings and documents are classified in addition to the norm of merely being private.

      The factual statements in the memo suggest the FBI might have been a bit loose in checking out some of the material used to justify obtaining and continuing the warrant in this case, and that suggests the possibility that such looseness is a habit.

      The real problem probably is people. The FISC apparently approves a couple of thousand such requests annually, around 8 in an average work day. There are only a few DoJ officials authorized to sign off on them, and these warrant justification documents likely run to quite a few pages. Their review probably is a boring and time consuming task for a busy a Deputy AG or AG, and likely to deferred to subordinates who themselves might not be at 100% all the time.

    2. PaulFrederick

      Re: This memo is great!

      Trump is the Commander in Chief. If he wants to fire someone that's what we put him in office to do. Everyone serves at the pleasure of the President. If someone gets canned then that's just how it goes. Trump is Commander in Chief, not cuck in chief. He's where he is because he's got a set. Hillary thought she had a pair, but her sack was empty.

      1. Rob D. Bronze badge

        Re: This memo is great!

        > Everyone serves at the pleasure of the President.

        The separation of Legislature, Executive and Judiciary is subordinate to the whim and personal agenda of the person at the top of the Executive? I firmly hope that the US structures of democracy are a bit more resilient to being dismantled in practice.

  7. tom dial Silver badge

    In all, the much awaited memo is pretty much a yawn. To say it provides insight into the matter of FBI activity or FISA procedures is quite a stretch, and it probably describes no more than a somewhat disturbing sloppiness in FISA warrant preparation, possibly due to a mix of haste and legitimate concern by the responsible officials. But it speaks to a serious problem, perhaps more serious owing to involving the president, at least peripherally.

    The type of misbehavior it hints at is exactly the type alleged to have occurred on a mass basis (actually, a few thousand times a year, according the the linked Oregonlive article) in hundreds, or more likelyt thousands, of articles, as well as far more numerous comments in The Register and many other publications, both on line and in print. The misbehavior, if it occurred, is not different when it is directed at a Trump campaign associate with questionable activities from when it is directed at a US citizen under some degree of suspicion of terrorist activity or espionage. Treating the two situations differently reeks of hypocrisy.

    Kudos to The Register for providing the document in PDF and for the link to squite balanced discussion of FIS at oregonlive.com, which gives an uncommonly straight description of FISA requirements, quite unlike most of that given by more prominent national outlets.

    1. Voland's right hand Silver badge

      no more than a somewhat disturbing sloppiness in FISA warrant preparation,

      Missed one - the rather low standard of evidence accepted by a FISA court to issue a warrant

      1. Archtech Silver badge

        Mainly ornamental

        As far as I can see, the purpose of the whole FISA organization is to conceal from the public gaze what amounts to blanket authorization for spying on anyone at all, for any or no reason.

        Congress could just have made that legal. But it looks (a little) better to create a "court" and have it hand out authorizations in secret. Then any criticism can be met by claiming it's a proper judicial proceeding.

      2. tom dial Silver badge

        The FISC appears to accept and grant warrant requests on pretty much the same basis as other courts. If anything, the preliminary review standards are higher, at least in a formal sense, since each application must be approved by the Attorney General, the Deputy Attorney General, or the Assistant Attorney General for the National Security Division. That is after they are approved by the Director or Deputy Director of the FBI. It is my recollection that the law does not allow delegation of this authority.

        Given the requirement that one of two FBI officials and one of three DoJ officials review and approve each of several thousand of these warrant requests each year, it is certain that they rely heaviy on their subordinates for fact checking and for care and accuracy in preparation, including care that the bureau and department are not acting in a partisan way or allowing other to manipulate the process for partisan purposes. The drift of the Nunes memo is that the internal controls, at least in the specific case, might have been less stringent than they should have been.

        1. Sir Runcible Spoon Silver badge

          Can anyone confirm if this is the original memo, or the edited one?

          I did read something the other day about that, right? Or was that fake too?

      3. georgezilla

        " Missed one - the rather low standard of evidence accepted by a FISA court to issue a warrant "

        So you've read the evidence used to support this FISA warrant? Or ANY evidence used to support ANY other FISA warrant?

        No?

        So just what evidence do you have to support you claim?

        None.

        Well imagine that. More baseless, worthless bullshit. Like this memo written by someone who hasn't see it either.

  8. elDog Silver badge

    While the invader's tunnel is being built, all we get are distractions.

    It used to be called subterfuge since the tunnels were built under the walls of the fortifications.

    Now it is called getting the goods (bads) on the politicians.

    The US was able to withstand and avoid a lot of enemies because of its physical distance. Now the enemies can poison the airwaves/internet and the flows of monies while sitting at their computers, across the planet and even within. And the US is so unused to being taken advantage of - it has always been in charge and the aggressor.

    Bend over, comrades.

    1. Michael Thibault

      Re: While the invader's tunnel is being destroyed

      Did you mean: "Bend over, 'comrades'"?

  9. nsb103

    The relevance of the yahoo story would have been to demonstrate that the story had broken publicly, not to provide a second source for the same information. That's relevant because a subject aware of the attention may be expected to take steps to hide his tracks.

    1. Michael Thibault

      Wasn't the Yahoo! story based on the very same questionable dossier?

      1. Pascal Monett Silver badge

        Yes, and the article specifically outlines why and why that is important.

      2. Archtech Silver badge

        Christopher Steele

        Both were written by Christopher Steele. Who told The Guardian that he doesn't think more than 10% to 30% of his dossier is untrue.

    2. Stoneshop Silver badge
      Facepalm

      Not so Carter Page

      That's relevant because a subject aware of the attention may be expected to take steps to hide his tracks.

      If someone involved in the campaign promoting a candidate for the US presidency has been working as an advisor to Kremlin staff not too long before is not subjected to some additional scrutiny, there's something very wrong.

      Aside from that, have you read the transcripts of Page's interviews with the House Intelligence Committee? The only way he could increase the impression he's a Russian plant is by donning a pink tutu after learning some dance steps, getting on a piano and switching on the neon sign that blinks "Russian Plant" in Cyrillic.

    3. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      No, it was presented, according to sworn testimony, as corroborating evidence. It came from Steele briefing a Yahoo reporter, so no corroboration at all.

    4. tom dial Silver badge

      Whether the subject of a warrant may be aware of being under suspicion has nothing at all to do with *whether* a warrant should be issued. It might affect the urgency of obtaining one, but then it would be unnecessary to include it in the application.

  10. ratfox Silver badge
    Angel

    It's funny that the mostly Republican Congress just recently voted to extend FISA. And that news of the memo came out just a few hours after. It's rather comedic... a bit like a people dying seconds after signing a life insurance contract.

    1. sprograms

      Congress did not vote to extend FISA, but rather section 702. That was not the section under which the warrant,on a US citizen directly, was sought.

      Commenters above seem not to realize that Devon Nunes was given access directly, in a so-called secure room, with two assistants, to read the warrant applications directly. As for the Yahoo! article, it was offered as a second source, and had nothing to do with its timing.

      The scandal is manifold. The FBI did reveal to the court that the so-called Dossier was paid for, but gave no indication that it was paid for by the opposition political party. It is frequently said that "a republican was the first to start paying for Steele." That statement is false. A republican first hired Fusion GPS. When he dropped the engagement the DNC and Hillary for President campaign hired Fusion GPS, and only at that point did a request get made to hire Steele, and pay for the work..

      I am aware, as an attorney, that things are different in the U.K. so far as speaking of security issues goes. We had our run with J. Edgar Hoover. We don't need that again. The FBI and DoJ, including Comey,were given repeated chances over many months to bring forth the documentation, and to give honest testimony. They refused. And the Dossier was not used to gain renewal alone: it was also used as the supposed and required probable cause to issue such the first time out.

      1. Jellied Eel Silver badge

        Watergate Redux?

        The scandal is manifold. The FBI did reveal to the court that the so-called Dossier was paid for, but gave no indication that it was paid for by the opposition political party.

        I'm not American, so don't have any real skin in this game, but it's interesting how this is being spun by the left/right. Much in this memo has already been leaked or suggested, ie the questionable role of the Steele dossier. Which was of course leaked, and although salacious, offered little in the way of evidence.

        Problem #1 is the quality of that dossier, and it's funding. So paid in part via the Clinton's law firm to Fusion, then presumably Steele paid his intermediaries, who paid informants. We have no idea how reliable those sources were, and Steele hadn't been in Russia for over a decade. Steele allegedly was very anti-Trump, and if the FBI relied on the dossier to wiretap Trump advisors, that's Watergate territory.

        Problem #2 is whether the FBI was politicised and anti-Trump, and also at the DoJ, which is supposed to provide oversight to the FBI. So DoJ's Bruce Ohr's wife worked for Fusion on opposition research, which should have been an obvious conflict of interest. Comey and McCabe signed the FISA warrants on behalf of the FBI. McCabe's wife was running for the Democrats and funded by the Clintons. So another conflict of interest. Rosenstein at DoJ also signed, and is now part of the Mueller team. And then there's the awkward texts between Strzok and Page. Problem with that is whether that shows a real conflict of interest, or if the FBI/DoJ were incompetent/negligent in avoiding the appearence of a conflict.. Which gets even more awkward when the pro-Clinton players also had key roles in investigating Clinton's email fiasco.

        Problem #3 is despite the DNC's insistance of Russian interference, or connections to Trump, nothing has really been found in over a year of searching. Carter Page seems to be a nobody running a 1-man investment business, and has been much less successful in energy deals than say, Hunter Biden. And far more money seems to have flowed from energy interests to the Clintons 'charitable' foundation.

        Problem #4 is this will no doubt get downvoted because Trump Bad, Clinton Good!, and people won't look at why senior justice officials abusing their office is bad for the US. Good for popcorn futures though.

        1. georgezilla

          Re: Watergate Redux?

          " I'm not American, so don't have any real skin in this game "

          I believe that you are are wrong. You do have skin in the game.

          The President of the United States has the capability to blow up the entire effing world. And the current President is quiet capable of doing just that. Simply because he can.

          Do I think that he will? Don't know. Do I think that he could?

          Yes. And I'm old enough to remember hiding under my desk at school during the drills in the 50's and 60's.

          1. Archtech Silver badge

            Re: Watergate Redux?

            We foreigners are always very much aware that the US government can kill everyone in the world. As can the Russian government.

            The big difference is that the US government seems very much to want to.

            And it's not the President who shows that tendency, but more the Congress and the media. Donald Trump has never spoken about shooting down Russian aircraft over Syria, for example. That was Mrs Clinton.

            Everyone is aware that Mr Trump is a loudmouth and says some obnoxious things. But some of us very much prefer an obnoxious loudmouth who appears to be fundamentally sane to a woman who shows every sign of being insane - and if she isn't, is a violent criminal.

            1. wallaby

              Re: Watergate Redux?

              "But some of us very much prefer an obnoxious loudmouth who appears to be fundamentally sane "

              the men in the white van with the cuddle jacket are heading your way right now Archtech

              if anyone feels he looks "fundamentally sane " they either have serious issues or deserve all he doles out (or they own a coalmine).

        2. DryBones

          Re: Watergate Redux?

          1: Steele wasn't told whom was financing it, and the dossier was started by Washington Free Beacon (Bacon?) or something like that. So the Republicans started it, and the Democrats were curious and helped him have the funding to finish it, both via Fusion GPS. So any notions that it was from the beginning a hit piece from the Democrats need to be thrown away. As time goes on, it's interesting how different bits and pieces are showing as interestingly similar to what's found.

          2: Does what your significant other does at work cause conflicts of interest for you? This is a stretch, to be honest. Work is work, home is home. Also, considering the Trump administration is pretty much the textbook example of "conflict of interest" (oilman running the EPA, anyone? Private school advocate running the Department of Education?), this is beyond pot calling kettle black and over into pot covering plates in grease and trying to accuse them of having always been dirty.

          3: Leaks to the media have been relatively few. That is called discipline, not "they haven't found anything". Also, multiple indictments have been unsealed, multiple search warrants, etc have been obtained.

          4: The same people say the FBI and FISA are good/bad depending on if it's them or the Democrats that are being investigated. They are talking out both sides of their mouth and both ends of their digestive system. If there is abuse then yes it needs to be investigated, but right now there are very few Republicans that seem to be producing anything but gallons of FUD. They have a consistency problem and a negative balance on credibility, especially after this latest bit of political theatre.

          1. Jellied Eel Silver badge

            Re: Watergate Redux?

            1: So any notions that it was from the beginning a hit piece from the Democrats need to be thrown away. As time goes on, it's interesting how different bits and pieces are showing as interestingly similar to what's found.

            That assumes Steele/Fusion didn't know or care about who was paying. That it was opposition research funded by the DNC (and possibly FBI) is a matter of public record, ie Perkins Coles payments to Fusion. The FBI/DoJ seem to have neglected to mention this when applying for and renewing FISA warrants. Then there's the alleged scope of engagement from Fusion to Steele- "'Why did Mr. Trump repeatedly seek to do deals in a notoriously corrupt police state that most serious investors shun?". I guess that could be answered by pointing out plenty of other US businessses were also doing deals with Russia, from Ford to Uranium-1

            2: Does what your significant other does at work cause conflicts of interest for you? This is a stretch, to be honest.

            Nope, she spends most of her time in Moscow. But issues with SOs are often used as examples in ethics and conflicts of interest training. Which again is about avoiding conflicts, or the appearence of conflicts. Having a lead role in the investigation of the source of your wife's campaign financing would seem a clear conflict. But not to McCabe. Or not until after this was repeatedly pointed out. Same with Bruce Ohr who's wife was working on opposition research for Fusion. That suggests incompetence, negligence or potentially conspiracy. An FBI agent has an op-ed in the NYT calling for political attacks on the FBI to stop. Well, perhaps if the FBI stopped being political..

            3: Leaks to the media have been relatively few.

            They've been numerous. So Steele's dubious dossier by Buzzfeed. Or Glenn Simpson's closed testimony by Dianne Feinstein(D). Or Clinton's emails. Or some strange goings on with some Pakistani IT consultants and Democrat's data. And yes, there have been warrants. And sometimes problems with those warrants, ie the FBI losing texts between Strzok and his mistress, which the DoJ somehow found. But so far, no sign of smoking guns pointing at Trump.

            4: They have a consistency problem and a negative balance on credibility, especially after this latest bit of political theatre.

            FUD's been a theme from both sides. Currently the DNC wants to release their own counter memo, so more popcorn might be required. Or why we're here in the first place. Trump won, Clinton lost. People can't accept that was the will of the people, so are looking to blame others. So it was all Russia.. and the Clintons had absolutely no ties there. Bill's $500k cheque for speaking in Moscow didn't happen. Nor did his meeting with Putin. And Uranium-1 was all entirely above board..

          2. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: Watergate Redux?

            Wrong, wrong, and wrong.

            Steele knew who commissioned the research, he's on record as being very anti-Trump. He was not employed until after the Washington Free Beacon dropped its contract with Fusion for opposition research on Trump. The Steele Dossier is all on overseas research not domestic so there's no known crossover. BTW, opposition research is very common and not remarkable at all if conducted according to the law. One part of US law though that is quite plain - that it is forbidden to get valuable information from a foreigner or to pay a foreigner for same. Clinton via Fusion did just that.

            Worse still, it is quite plain that the Steele Dossier information was vetted and approved by the Russian FSB - supposed state secrets don't leave Russia easily without the FSB being aware. So the FBi was using information planted by the FSB to spy on Trump.

            Leaks to the media have been common, have you not been paying attention ?

            And of course it is partisan, it's politics. But at least in this case the partisanship is the Democrats and the "Deep State" against the rest of the USA. We need to know, was the FBI and the DOJ being weaponised against opponents of Obama, Clinton, and the Democrats ? We know that Obama did use the IRS against groups - can't be denied as they've agreed and apologised for it - though nobody has been charged. He also used the NSA and the security services to spy on reporters in an effort to stop leaks. And thanks to their texts we know that top level FBI and Justice department people were rabidly anti-Trump, and apparently did NOT leave their politics at the door when they went to work.

            Time for a special counsel to investigate.

            1. Jellied Eel Silver badge

              Re: Watergate Redux?

              One part of US law though that is quite plain - that it is forbidden to get valuable information from a foreigner or to pay a foreigner for same. Clinton via Fusion did just that.

              I'm not sure you're right there. After all, it's what intelligence agencies do. There's even a handy acronym for it.. Money, Ideology, Conscience, Ego. Steele arguably ticks off most of those letters, ie he was paid, decidedly anti-Trump and wanted to stop him winning the election. Rather embarassing that a Brit was doing that, not Russia. Of course the FBI should have been aware of potential bias and motivations. After all, they've had plenty of experience where paying cash to informants hasn't resulted in useful intelligence. It also happened a lot in Iraq and Afghanistan.

              Worse still, it is quite plain that the Steele Dossier information was vetted and approved by the Russian FSB

              That's probably stretching things a bit. Steele offered cash for dirt, anonymous sources took the money and gave him stuff. Steele seems to have relied on intermediaries and had little ability to verify any of it. So we get unverifiable but salicious stuff, like watersports on a bed Obama slept on. All on video because of secret FSB surveillance which presumably wasn't in place for Obama's visit.

              But looks like it'll be the Democrats turn to memo this week. And hopefully nothing else awkward will come out, like whether the anti-Trump elements at the FBI or DoJ shared their intelligence with the DNC.

      2. georgezilla

        " Commenters above seem not to realize that Devon Nunes was given access directly, in a so-called secure room, with two assistants, to read the warrant applications directly. "

        What you seem to not realize is that Devon Nunes has said publicly, on TV ( at least once, maybe more ), is that he HASN'T seen/read it at all.

    2. Michael Thibault

      You mean the Congress oblivious to the existence -- let alone the contents -- of the memo (and, therefore, the underlying testimony and evidence)? What would you expect instead? Prescience? Would you not consider it 'funny' if the first news of the Nunes memo had surfaced prior to the vote on renewing FISA? Would it not also have been possible, or even likely, in such a case, to politicise that sequence of events? Would it depend on whether or not you were in favour of renewing FISA or not? It is just legislation; it can be changed -- even rescinded. By a majority vote in the relevant chambers. As happens from time to time. Funny, that.

  11. Maelstorm Bronze badge

    Let the investigation run its course

    What I find interesting is that this was released over the Democrat's objections. It does make the FBI and DOJ look either incompetent or operating with an ulterior motive. Flynn was busted for lying to Mike Pence about meeting with the Russian ambassador. But they have been investigating this Carter person since 2013? So there are some interesting links that are being highlighted. It may give a basis for why Trump accused the Obama administration of wiretapping Trump Tower.

    I do not like Trump, but I also believe that he should not be removed from office for political reasons. If he is guilty of a crime, then we will deal with that. So far, I see a lot of smoke. So it could be a fire...or it could be a smoke grenade to make people think there is a fire. At this point, we do not know. I'm for letting the special prosecutor complete the investigation and go from there. If nothing is found, then so be it.

    1. tom dial Silver badge

      Re: Let the investigation run its course

      And if something is found, so be it also.

      It may be worth noting that presidential impeachment by the House of Representatives, followed by a vote for conviction by 2/3 of the Senators after a trial over which the Chief Justice presides, is an inherently political process due in part to the lack of a legal definition of "high Crimes and Misdemeanors". That term can mean pretty much what half the representatives agree upon.

    2. Tom 38 Silver badge

      Q

      It does make the FBI and DOJ look either incompetent or operating with an ulterior motive.

      It really doesn't. It makes a bunch of snide insinuations and uses innuendo to suggest that, but it is done crudely, and baldly ignoring any facts that would question that narrative, like that the Steele dossier was only mentioned at Page's FISA renewal hearing as additional uncorroborated evidence that should be investigated.

      There was other evidence, but Nunes doesn't include that in the memo because it doesn't fit his narrative.

      Quite possibly Trump has not illegally obstructed the Mueller inquiry, but he is running around saying "Will no-one rid me of this meddlesome priest?"

  12. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Valerie Plame again

    If you'll recall, that "issue" was a big deal aimed at nailing the dastardly Vice President Cheney for doing what a State Dept. Democrat did.

    Washington DC ought to have a popcorn surtax put on it.

  13. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Trump is the new Nixon

    Oh ! Look ! Thermo-nuclear squirrel.

  14. DCFusor Silver badge

    Amazing how people can twist anything to conform to their preconceived and programmed notions.

    Author better hope no one does their own reading or has watched closely, but no - what this shows is it wouldn't matter...people gonna believe what they're told to and their friends agree with no matter what.

    Russians? Heh, heh...

    https://phys.org/news/2011-10-darpa-master-propaganda-narrative-networks.html

    I'll just leave this here. They didn't even bother to hide it - you always do things like this *before* the controversy because you can count on people forgetting or just not having paid attention.

    If you believe the half truths of any side, you get zero truth. The thing they agree on - an election is the advance auction of stolen goods (Mencken) - and the pitch is always the same "I'm gonna pick the other guy's pockets to buy your vote" - but no one ever seems to figure out that we're all that other guy and it's our pockets.

    Sam Clemens - we're safest when the government isn't in session. Still true.

    1. Charles 9 Silver badge

      "Sam Clemens - we're safest when the government isn't in session."

      Did he live long enough to experience the lows of the Gilded Age and the robber barons? Upton Sinclair's "The Jungle" and all that? Tell me again anarchy's good for society.

      1. Ruisert

        Re: Sam Clemens

        "Did he live long enough to experience the lows of the Gilded Age and the robber barons? Upton Sinclair's "The Jungle" and all that? Tell me again anarchy's good for society."

        Actually, he did, since he died in 1910. He coined the phrase "Gilded Age", in fact. A quick internet search shows he was quite harsh in his condemnation of Vanderbilt and Gould. Interestingly he was also friends with Henry H. Rogers, a key man at Standard Oil, who rescued Twain from bankruptcy and managed his money afterwards. So it would seem Twain judged people more by the content of their character than the size of their bank accounts...

        And, just so you don't forget, those robber barons were mostly, but not always, railroad tycoons who became so due to huge government handouts, with some of the profits finding their way into the pockets of the politicians that abetted them. Sound like anything going on today?

        And while I'm not in favor of anarchy, I prefer it to corrupt businessmen and the corrupt politicians in their pockets.

  15. Will Godfrey Silver badge
    Unhappy

    America

    The land of ???

    Help me out here. I thought I had some idea once, but now I haven't a clue.

    1. jake Silver badge

      Re: America

      Land of the fee.

      HTH, HAND.

  16. Old Coot

    "He put his own personal goals ahead of the country's."

    Your statement implies that such goals exist and are self-evident. What are those goals, exactly? How did you find out? Maybe you have some links?"

    The author also implies that the FBI acted within its rights. Suppose that the tax authorities ignored one party's candidates and did everything in their power to scrutinize the other party. That what's at issue here, not another click-bait Trump article with no connection to computers or technology.

    1. Archtech Silver badge

      "Suppose that the tax authorities ignored one party's candidates and did everything in their power to scrutinize the other party".

      That's another thing that happens all the time.

  17. John Smith 19 Gold badge
    Big Brother

    "It should be on the pages of an alt-right blog or a Mail Online comment section, "

    Patience, Citizen.

    We are working as fast as we can.

  18. Trollslayer Silver badge
    Thumb Up

    El Reg at it's best

    There is the just plain daft side then when it counts there is bloody good journalism.

    This combination is what makes The Register my favourite online rag!

  19. c1ue

    What did people expect to see?

    The Register author states that the memo is not interesting because it outlines what has been bandied about publicly already: that the Steele dossier was used to justify a counter intelligence Section 702 surveillance of a Trump campaign member (or members).

    What exactly was expected?

    The issue here isn't the fact that surveillance was conducted. If the justification was legitimate, nobody would complain.

    The problem is that it is *not* clearly legitimate. The Steele dossier has been publicly examined long before now and it is clearly a load of crock. Why was a similar level of die diligence not performed by the FBI? Equally, whatever Mr. Steele was in the past, he is *not* MI6 now. Unless you want to stipulate that he is still accessing UK resources - in which case genus a foreign agent.

    The question all along is whether the FBI was being impartial and faithful to its sworn duties when conducting this particular affair, and this was not discussed in the article hardly at all.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: What did people expect to see?

      Jesus, what are you smoking?

      It's clearly a selective Republican release designed to desperately provide cover to Trump, it even shoots itself in the foot when it reveals that the Steele dossier wasn't the actual source of the original surveillance request regarding Page but you missed that part out didn't you.

      The problem *you have* is that this release does nothing to actually undermine the surveillance as being legitimately requested.

      No-one other that the desperate fools on Faux News are claiming that the Steele dossier was the sole justification for the surveillance, plus large parts of the claims in it have been proven to be true.

      To use your 'logic', the police shouldn't investigate a murder because the witness belongs to a different political party or didn't like the accused, so they should dismiss any evidence that the witness has no matter how compelling.

      The same FBI that publicly stated it was going to re-open the investigation into Hillary Clinton's emails, literally days before the election, or did you forget that too?

      1. c1ue

        Re: What did people expect to see?

        Given what the agent in charge and his Co-worker/mistress were communicating to each other on their work phones, I'd say the Binary investigation start/stop isn't the least bit surprising.

        Yet again, the fact is that it isn't Donald Trump that brought this to light but the Inspector General of the FBI.

        Nobody expects members of the FBI or any other organization to bot have views, but the problem is whether these views will affect the quality of their work.

        Once again, far from clear that the answer is: no problems here.

      2. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: What did people expect to see?

        Obviously nothing as potent as what you've been at.

        McCabe testified on oath that the Dossier was a significant part of the application. If you think parts of the dossier have been verified, please provide details. The only items verified are public knowledge (Carter page travelled to Moscow) and there are many distinctly NOT verified parts. Carter Page denies meeting the people he's named as meeting in the dossier, and there's zero evidence that he did meet them. Also, Trump's lawyers did NOT travel to Prague as claimed in the Dossier.

        And I aver that the Steele Dossier was data supplied by or at least approved by the Russian secret Service, the FSB. Steele's contacts are claimed to be high placed officials in the Kremlin; this data is claimed to be compromising material held by the Russian State on Trump. Those would be state secrets, and if you think a senior Russian official would supply those to a known foreign intelligence officer (even an ex-MI-6 agent) with approval from the FSB, then I suggest you are deluded.

        So the FISA application is sought to spy on the Trump campaign based on data from the FSB ? The Russians must be over the moon at how successful their ploy has been, all driven by the Democrats and the anti-Trump fanatics.

        As for you analogy, it's not the witness, it more that someone claims that another person has committed an offense for which there's no other significant proof. These two people are candidate A and candidate B in an election. Should the police leap in an arrest candidate B, should they not first seek indpenedent verification ?

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: What did people expect to see?

          "McCabe testified on oath that the Dossier was a significant part of the application", significant does not mean sole supporting evidence which is what Nunes is trying to claim.

          Remember Page was under surveillance before the Steele dossier was complete so how does that sync up with your version of events, was it sent back in time to the FISA court?

          http://www.newsweek.com/trump-campaign-insiders-tip-fbi-confirmed-steele-dossier-says-fusion-gps-768867

          "And I aver that the Steele Dossier was data supplied by or at least approved by the Russian secret Service, the FSB." - now who's smoking something? what evidence do you have for any of the rest of your post? I suggest that you are part of the effort to desperately try and undermine the investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 election.

    2. Alligator

      Re: What did people expect to see?

      As you think this was section 702 surveillance, your understanding of the memo can be categorised as clueless and your opinion safely ignored.

  20. Wiltshire

    Are my eyes deceiving me? Or did the Reg strangely miss out a chunk of the memo?

    i.e. from what some have dubbed the "damning section"

    I quote:

    a) Neither the initial application in October 2016, nor any of the renewals, disclose or reference the role of the DNC, Clinton campaign, or any party/campaign in funding Steele's efforts, even though the political origins of the Steele dossier were then known to senior DOJ and FBI officials.

    b) The initial FISA application notes Steele was working for a named U.S. person, but does not name Fusion GPS and principal Glenn Simpson, who was paid by a U.S. law firm (Perkins Coie) representing the DNC (even though it was known by DOJ at the time that political actors were involved with the Steele dossier). The application does not mention Steele was ultimately working on behalf of—and paid by—the DNC and Clinton campaign, or that the FBI had separately authorized payment to Steele for the same information.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Well you clearly missed the updates from the FBI where they pointed out that the repeatedly noted the source of the funding in the FISA application/renewal but as you're quoting a highly partizan hit piece then I'm not surprised you didn't see it.

  21. Florida1920 Silver badge

    Smoke, fog, whatever

    The memo doesn't undermine the appearance of collusion. It merely attacks the people who brought the information to light. The smoke, fog and bullshit are all coming from the Republicans, who are clearly scared to death that the P[ervert]OTUS is going to drag them all down with him. The smart move (yeah, that's asking a lot of Republicans these days) would be to put some distance between themselves and Trump et al. Nunes is a slobbering lap dog, and the rest of the pack are following him right over the cliff.

  22. jmcc

    Another Brit out of his depth..

    Let me paraphrase the article. Some Brit who parachuted in a few years ago and lives in a bubble area in a bubble City ( a big Hi from out in the Sunset) writes an article that shows he is completely oblivious of the 50 year history of the back-story behind the story. Or how US retail politics actually works. And how the US legal system actually works. But just parrots ad nauseam this weeks Dem talking points. I'm saying this an old time New Deal Dem. Now orphaned by my party.

    In my experience only Brit journalists have the arrogance to think that just because they speak the same language and grew up watching the minutia of US politics on the telly (BBC/ITN) that they have some inside track on what is going on in the US. You dont. Quite the opposite. Whenever I hear some Brit pontificating about US subjects political I always ask them - when was the last time the dominant media outlet in the UK (the TV news) treated a Rep candidate for president in any kind of an even handed manner? They always scratch their heads at the question. Because the answer is Gerald Ford in 1976. Before most of them were born. And when was the last time a Dem candidate for president was treated any way critically by the UK TV news outlets . Again, 1976. Carters overt Christianity being a real turn off for the BBC especially at the time. By the time the 1980's rolled around Reagan was treated by the UK media exactly the way Trump is nowadays. Unrelenting vitriol.

    And so it has continued. The UK media has been 90% Dem talking points for the last few decades. Even the French media is not quite that biased against the Republicans. And they use the term Liberal as a political insult correctly. Against the Republicans.

    So expecting a half way informed opinion on US politics from a Brit is a bit like trying to get a half way informed opinion on Irish politics / history from some n'th generation Irish-American. They are so immersed in the partisan misinformation and lies they grew up with they dont even know they dont know anything on the subject.

    So the actually story is the memo is a really really big deal. We are definitely well into Watergate territory here. The real Watergate Scandal. The Mark Felt leaking evidence because he was not made FBI director as he believed was his by right. Not the made up fairly tale as told in All The President Men. Which is mostly romantic fiction.

    In the real world of DC politics, which is a blood sport, if Nixon had made Felt FBI director there would have been no Watergate Scandal. It would have been buried like all the others. Because that is how DC has always worked. Ever hear of the LBJ very dodgy radio stations business scandal? No? See. Thats how DC normally works. And that was a real biggie at the time.

    And the memo is very much a smoking gun that the Dems used the FBI to a far more egregious degree for party partisan operations than even Nixon did. And the Dems would not shut up about what Nixon tried to do for decades afterwards.

    So to summarize. The FBI is going to get a complete bollocking, and deservedly so, while the party hacks are removed. One way or another. Of course the Dems and their useful idiots will claim coup d'etat and other such nonsense. Which is funny, as they have spent most of the last few decades pillorying the FBI for one reason or another. All partisan politics. And all par for the course.

    On the positive side, American politics is still not as poisonously cynical and utterly incompetent as current German politics is at the moment. If you think Theresa May is inept, let me introduce Mutti and the current coalition negotiations with its cast of clowns...

    1. Rob D. Bronze badge
      Stop

      Re: Another Brit out of his depth..

      And the winner of today's award for "Longest and Most Rambling Ad Hominem Attack" is .... drum roll ....

      Also a runner up in the World's Tiniest Violin awards for the "Saddest Tale of All the World's Media Say Nasty Things About Us".

      1. wallaby
        Pint

        Re: Another Brit out of his depth..

        Have a pint on me Rob

        nailed it

  23. unwarranted triumphalism Bronze badge

    Desperate attempt at deflection

    Hardly surprising that the establishment machine is at full power trying to dismiss this news. They've been caught in the act and they don't like it at all.

  24. Glen Turner 666

    Steele memo not only source of Russian influence

    Note that the Steele Report isn't the sole source. From July 2016 Australia's intelligence agencies were warning the US's FBI of Russian attempts at subversion of their Presidential election. The initial Australian intelligence was gained from old-fashioned "drink the source under the table" espionage.

    Obviously this second source doesn't fit into the argument the Nunes Memo is promoting, since it makes the Steele Report irrelevant -- the FBI was going to investigate whatever the provenance of Steele's work.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Steele memo not only source of Russian influence

      Papadopoulos was a minor player trying to "big" up his part. He tried to interest the Trump campaign in meeting with Russians to obtain eMails from the Clinton server. He failed to interest anyone senior to do so, and to the best of my knowledge no hacked Clintonmail emails have been released other than those sent to/from Sidney Blumenthal hacked by the original Guccifer (not the fake persona Guccifer 2 who was probably a Crowdstrike ploy). Papadopoulos' "contact" was an Italian "professor" who claimed but probably didn't have direct Russian links. It seems to have been a scam and a lot of ego massaging on both sides, and not of any real importance - at least as far as we know from released information.

  25. J J Carter Silver badge
    Trollface

    Yep

    Windows 10 has slurped all the misdeeds of crooked Hillary.

    1. wallaby

      Re: Yep

      "Windows 10 has slurped all the misdeeds of crooked Hillary."

      I don't believe you went there

      sad..... so sad

  26. rtb61

    Just a Memo

    All the memo does is point out the need for serious criminal investigation. Now if it were something else, it would contain actual evidence, or direct charges to be laid or something legal. As a memo it lays out necessary areas of investigation and also current and past areas of fake investigation.

    Russiagate fake, Clinton Crime Clan foundation not so fake, with the FBI and DOJ tied right up in it via political appointments. It's a mess and no memo will cover it, except to point out real investigation does need to occur.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Just a Memo

      All the memo does is desperately try and distract from the criminal investigation. - FTFY

      Now if it were of any value at all rather than a partisan hit piece , it would contain actual evidence, or direct charges to be laid or something legal as opposed to vague innuendo and lots of irrelevant correlation. FTFYT

  27. Milo Tsukroff
    IT Angle

    > Hatchet

    > The truth is, though, that the memo amounts to little more than a hatchet job.

    So is anything political from Washington, or anything else in the news from that swamp. Nothing about this has to do with IT. Doesn't belong in this otherwise fine British publication.

  28. SAdams

    Good article

    One of the best summaries of the issue - which happens to be in an IT paper.

    Its ironic that the FBI,CIA (and even NSA) have done some incredibly dodgy things in the past (some verging on evil), all proven and with very little if any attempt to even try to follow due process. Admitedly most of it was during the cold war - trying to oppose the USSR being just as dodgy all around the world in the name of global communism.

    Nonetheless much of that was ordered and supported by presidents, congress, senate, the republican party etc. Its ironic that here you have a vastly reformed FBI following the prescribed process for something they and the CIA/NSA should know about. You have Trump and many of the Republicans creating fake news about it - the same Trump that demonstrably got elected on the back of fake news, and yet keeps complaining about fake news. This is all straight out of the Goebels / Hitler playbook. Its all about controlling the narrative at all costs.

    The FBI will probably pay for past crimes now in the US public imagination, wounded and inefective. Just at the time their role as independant investigative body is probably more important than its ever been. We will soon see how effective the US constitution and its seperation of powers really is when faced with a president playing them all against each other.

  29. Wolfclaw Silver badge

    So what does the memo prove, US Gov and it's security services are a bunch of lying toe rags, prepared to use fake information to justify their actions? Well what a surprise !

  30. small and stupid

    Nice to see the Trumptards out in force today.

    1. Sir Runcible Spoon Silver badge
      Facepalm

      It's always nice to see someone putting their insecurities out there for all to see, but to do so with a username seems a bit over-zealous, but that's just my opinion.

  31. Norman123

    Government of, by and for bureaucrats, .001% and politicians

    When media, wealth and power is concentrated in fewer and fewer hands; whistle-blowing laws intended to correct the extremes of abuse are tweaked to protect the abusers supported by Patriot Acts, the consequence is a confused state of seemingly class warfare that is progressively destabilizing our ECONOMIC, social and political orders. In other words, our society is falling apart and no one seems to be able to hold those in charge accountable for this state of affairs. Those in charge seems to have no control over them. The system is BROKEN. People are not part of the equation anymore.... How to fix it? Ask social scientists and the people.

    1. Charles 9 Silver badge

      Re: Government of, by and for bureaucrats, .001% and politicians

      Social scientists seem to be at a loss and the people don't seem to care enough. What next?

  32. kb
    Mushroom

    Love how so many are spinning like tops..

    Richard Nixon was impeached for using the power of the government against his enemies and spying on his opponent to try to rig a presidential election, while Clinton and Obama...used the power of the government against their enemies and spied on their opponent to try to rig a presidential election.

    Yup don't see how anybody should be upset over an attempt to rig presidential elections by simply using the power of the white house to bug their opponents, why what could be more democratic? Clinton/Obama For Prison 2018.

    1. FrozenShamrock

      Re: Love how so many are spinning like tops..

      Dreams and irrational fears of women and black men telling you what to do are not facts. No where, not even in the sorry excuse of a congressional memo lap puppy Nunes released is there any indication the FBI went after Carter Page at the behest of either Obama or Clinton. And, whether Papadoupolus was a minnow trying to sound important or not, he was a national security advisor to Dim Donny spouting off about Russian contacts which would warrant an investigation at the time.

  33. John Smith 19 Gold badge
    Coat

    I believe Trump will go down as the best damm President....

    Russia ever bought.

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