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The memo is out. Now what?

February 2, 2018

The much-anticipated memo was released at about noon EST on Friday, setting off the predictable firestorm of claims, counterclaims and denials.

The salient questions it brings up after the third or fourth read-through seem to be:

  1. What effect does this have on any future FISA Court requests by the DOJ/FBI?
  2. Where is all the danger to national security alleged by the FBI personnel and Democratic mouthpieces like Adam Schiff?
  3. What protections do any of us, but particularly our public figures, in this case the Trump people, have from professional malfeasance created by personal or political bias within a government agency?
  4. What level of involvement was necessary within the Obama administration to allow the investigation to go forward?

Looking at Section 4 of the memo, the most telling phrase seems to be “Furthermore, Deputy Director McCabe testified before the (House Intelligence-Ed.) Committee in December 2017 that no surveillance warrant would have been sought from the FISC without the Steele dossier information.”

Earlier in Section 4, the validation of the Steele dossier by the FBI’s own source validation unit was reported to be only “minimally corroborated” at the time the first FISA warrant application was submitted.

However,  there were three more extensions requested and granted over the next 9 months and the memo fails to answer whether the FBI subsequently continued to present the dossier as their primary evidence to justify the continuing surveillance warrant.

All denials aside, the memo clearly has an effect on the Mueller investigation, because the Special Counsel only exists as a result of the allegations made in the dossier.

If the dossier was fraudulent, then the warrant and anything obtained by the Mueller team as a result of it becomes what lawyers call fruit of the poisoned tree.

Of course the Democrats have yet to present their own memo, but it is a sure bet that it will defend the information in the dossier, if not the dossier itself.

This seems destined to remain a “he said, she said” playground spat for the foreseeable future, barring someone in the FBI or DOJ being criminally charged for presenting false evidence to the FISC.

At the street level, it certainly seems that personal biases within the FBI created an unlawful investigation into persons who were at the time simply U.S. citizens.

Of somewhat more importance is whether and how the FBI can ever truly be held to any legal standards only by the executive branch, under whose sole authority it exists.

Which brings us to the real elephant in the room.

Certainly, it seems reasonable to question whether the FBI under Comey, and the DOJ under Loretta Lynch plus a handful of rogue agents and administrators could have operated in this manner without cover from the Obama White House and the Clinton campaign.

Going clear back to the infamous meeting on the Phoenix tarmac between Loretta Lynch and Bill Clinton in June 2016, there were questions at the time about why Clinton deliberately waited for her plane to touch down and why they had to have a cozy meeting aboard her plane, clearly meant to be held away from prying eyes and ears, about the grandkids.

It looked strange then and it looks stranger now, given that the Steele dossier surfaced for the first time in June, 2016.

A story in Newsweek mentions Andrew McCabe and  Peter Strzok’s  involvement with some backlash from the outing of that meeting at the time. To put it mildly, there were some people seriously pissed off that the meeting had become public.

This story has a lot more meat to digest, which may explain the reaction of some of our more prominent Democrats.

The memo isn’t the end of anything.  At best it’s a salad fork.

From → op-ed

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