Subject: OT: Q&A on the Nunes Memo
'1. What’s your big takeaway after reading the memo?
Julian Sanchez: There are some some legitimately criticizable missteps
here: The Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court (FISC) should have
been informed that Steele’s research was underwritten by the Democratic
National Committee; a news article was erroneously cited as an
independent source of information, which it later became apparent was
also based on Steele’s claims. But that’s not in itself anywhere near a
“worse than Watergate” scandal unless we assume a lot of additional
facts that aren’t in evidence. Instead, the memo seems designed to
insinuate the facts that would elevate this from a catalogue of modest
misjudgments to a narrative of serious abuse. It implies that the
application relied critically on unverified facts, but doesn’t actually
say it in so many words. It reads, to be blunt, like a document intended
to create the appearance of a scandal in the eyes of someone who isn’t
parsing it closely.
Barbara McQuade: Although it is extremely misleading, the memo is not
terribly significant to the Mueller investigation. It relates to a FISA
warrant that was obtained in October 2016, after the investigation had
already begun in July, and relates only to one subject, Carter Page. To
suggest that this somehow taints the entire investigation is just wrong.
John Sipher: My first impression was that it was underwhelming. For all
the hoopla and high-level attention, it was a pretty lame effort by
Nunes and those trying to discredit the investigation. Like so many of
the attacks and smear efforts against Christopher Steele and his
dossier, the Nunes memo carefully avoids anything related to the actual
content of the report. Unlike a professional investigator, he purposely
avoids anything that might undercut his pre-cooked conclusion, and
focuses exclusively on the aspects that best supports his case.
However, even his best argument is not very strong. Just like when the
FBI gets reporting of a possible terrorist attack, their responsibility
is to check it out. In this case, it would have been professionally
irresponsible if the FBI did not follow up on this damning and explosive
counterintelligence information, even if they were not 100 percent
certain of the source’s reasons for passing on the lead.
Michael German: If this is the best argument the White House and House
Republicans have to discredit the Special Counsel investigation they are
in serious trouble. It isn’t very clear what their argument is. If it is
just that Steele was biased against Trump, I’m not sure what that has to
do with Page, because Page was no longer with the campaign and was not
on the White House staff. But the memo ignores other important
realities. Most informants providing information to the FBI do it
because they don’t like the people they are informing on, or at least
don’t like what they are doing. Also, informants can be wrong on certain
details without making everything they say false. ...'
But you wing nuts understand it better than those folks, right?
'Barbara McQuade (@BarbMcQuade) is a Professor from Practice at the
University of Michigan Law School. From 2010 to 2017, she served as the
United States Attorney for the Eastern District of Michigan and co-chair
of the Terrorism and National Security Subcommittee of the Attorney
General’s Advisory Committee in the Obama administration. From 1998 to
2010, McQuade served as an assistant U.S. attorney in Detroit, where she
prosecuted national security cases.'
'At the time of [John Sipher's] retirement, he was a member of the CIA’s
Senior Intelligence Service, the leadership team that guides CIA
activities globally. John served multiple overseas tours as Chief of
Station and Deputy Chief of Station in Europe, Asia, and in high-threat
environments. He has significant experience working with foreign and
domestic partners to solve national security challenges. John also
served as a lead instructor in the CIA’s clandestine training school,
and was a regular lecturer at the CIA’s leadership development program.
He is the recipient of the Distinguished Career Intelligence Medal.'
'A sixteen-year veteran of federal law enforcement, Mr. German served as
a special agent with the Federal Bureau of Investigation, where he
specialized in domestic terrorism and covert operations.'