On Monday morning, President Trump took to Twitter to attack Democratic Rep. Adam Schiff (D-CA) and praise Republican Rep. Devin Nunes (R-CA). Here was Trump on Nunes:
Here was Trump on Schiff:
What got Trump going this morning? Coverage of the Nunes memo, released last Friday. Nunes’ memo detailed alleged FBI and DOJ abuses in the pursuit of a warrant against former Trump foreign policy aide Carter Page; Schiff has criticized the memo as inaccurate. Schiff fired back:
Now, is Schiff a leaker? There’s no hard evidence he is, but the key points from his response memo to the Nunes memo hit the press almost immediately after Nunes’ memo did.
Meanwhile, did the Nunes memo truly shed light on an awful conspiracy to take down Trump? Not really. The Nunes memo detailed that the Russian investigation began long before the Page FISA application, with the investigation into Trump campaign advisor George Papadopoulos; furthermore, the Nunes memo didn’t suggest that the Russia investigation was limited to Page in any way. As Rep. Trey Gowdy (R-SC) stated on "Face the Nation," “There is a Russia investigation without a dossier. So to the extent the memo deals with the dossier and the FISA process, the dossier has nothing to do with the meeting at Trump Tower. The dossier has nothing to do with an email sent by Cambridge Analytica. The dossier has nothing to do with George Papadopoulos’ meeting in Great Britain. It also doesn’t have anything to do with obstruction of justice. So there’s going to be a Russia probe, even without a dossier.”
The Nunes memo does show that the FBI allegedly used the Democrat-funded Steele dossier as the basis to seek and receive a FISA warrant against Page, and it claims that the FBI and DOJ didn’t let the FISA court know about the dossier’s political connections. But in order for this to be disturbing in the most partisan fashion, the following facts must be true:
- Page didn’t deserve to be hit with the warrant;
- The FBI had no sufficient independent grounds for the warrant other than the dossier;
- The FBI had a duty to tell the court the source of the information, and breached that duty purposefully;
- The FBI did all of this for political reasons.
Now, the story can still be disturbing if the FBI got overzealous for non-political reasons — it raises serious questions about the functioning of our FISA system. But that’s not the claim. The claim is that Trump was targeted for political reasons by people inside the Obama administration colluding with the FBI. That still requires some explication. Page had been subject to a FISA warrant in 2014, long before Trump was ever an issue; in 2013, Page bragged about his Russian connections. So is Page truly a wounded innocent, or did the FBI have a reason for suspicion? We haven’t seen the FISA application, which Trump could simply declassify — so did the FBI lie to the court? Andrew McCarthy argues that the Nunes memo makes claims that haven’t been rebutted by Demcorats — that the FISA court wrongly issued a warrant against Page based on shoddy dossier information. But we could know that for certain if Trump simply declassified the application.
Here’s the bottom line: we’ve seen no evidence of collusion between the Trump campaign and Russia thus far. We’ve seen credible allegations of FBI misconduct in seeking a warrant against Page. We’ve seen allegations but no evidence that the FBI was attempting to “steal the election” from Trump or that the Trump administration is being victimized by the FBI in the Mueller investigation, other than in the broad scope of the Mueller investigation, unchecked by Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein.
Nunes says he has more memos coming. Well, let’s see what he’s got.