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A Lot of Smoke for “Nothing”   Leave a comment

So is the “memo” released on February 2 by the Republican majority a big deal or not?

Partisans tend to read, watch and listen only, or mostly, to information and opinions that reinforce their beliefs. If information surfaces that counters those beliefs, it is usually disparaged, excused or ignored. Human nature on display.

Image result for image of carter pageThe four-page memo on the House Intelligence Committee alleges the the FBI and the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court appear to have been used to influence the 2016 election and its aftermath.

Is that true? We don’t know. If it is, that is real collusion that goes above and beyond idle chitchat at a cocktail party, an exchange of emails that ultimately led nowhere or agreeing to take a meeting that you later decided again.

Republican partisans are rejoicing. You can hear their “I told you so” crows even in Alaska. Partisans on the left are reading coverage and editorials in The New York Times and the Washington Post, getting the warm glow that comes from thinking this memo means nothing. Before it’s release, they were insisting it would undermine Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation into the Trump campaign’s “collusion” with Russia to influence the election. They were deeply considered and tried to stop its release, saying it would harm national security interests. I’ve read it. It doesn’t. It suggests a few higher-ups in the FBI and Department of Justice used their power and influence to attempt to keep Donald Trump from becoming president and then attempted to undermine his presidency once he took office. That isn’t really evidence of wrongdoing, which puts the “memo” in the same group with the allegations of Trump collusion – there hasn’t been a shred of credible evidence produced on this point, but that doesn’t mean some might not be found or manufactured in the future.

Politicizing a powerful federal agency is nothing new. Richard Nixon and AG John Mitchell politicized the IRS and Justice Department in an attempt to punish political enemies. Lois Lerner politicized the IRS to thwart tax exemptions for conservative and religious organizations, as well as a few progressives. Given that history, arguments that such allegations will undermine national security or the morale of FBI agents is just silly.

The most damning part of the memo is the assertion that the FBI and Justice Department used a “dossier” authored by ex-British intelligence officer Christopher Steele and funded in part by the Hillary Clinton campaign and the Democratic National Committee in an attempt to smear Donald Trump. It was this dossier that the government agencies used to convince a FISA judge to issue a warrant allowing Trump campaign official Carter Page and possibly others to be spied on. The memo asserts those seeking the warrant did not tell the judge about the involvement of the Democratic Party and Clinton campaign with the dossier.

Is that true? We don’t know, but if it is, it’s worse than oversight. It’s criminal behavior, though given how high government officials seem to be immune from prosecution, it might not come to anything.  Because some of the officials alleged to be involved are in key positions in the FBI and Justice Department, it is possible the Mueller investigation might be affected. There is a legal principle called “fruit of a poisonous tree” that could render all subsequently gathered evidence void.

In an interview with Bret Baier on Fox News Friday, Intelligence Committee Chairman Devin Nunes suggested there is more to come, including release of a memo from the Democratic minority and possibly the full transcript of testimony by Deputy FBI Director Andrew McCabe before a closed meeting of the Intelligence Committee. McCabe signed one of the FISA applications and then-FBI Director James Comey signed three. Nunes contends the subsequent warrants issued by the FISA judge were based on flawed and incomplete information and thus would likely not have been issued had the judge been in possession of additional facts.

The Republican memo is just the beginning of an attempt to expose behind-the-scenes maneuvering by liberals to keep Donald Trump out of the White House and put Hillary Clinton in it.

I didn’t support either one of them, so I personally don’t care what the outcome is, but I do believe the public has a right to know all the facts in this case. Let’s see where they lead.

Posted February 12, 2018 by aurorawatcherak in politics

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