Sara Carter is one of the best investigative journalists working in DC, and yesterday on her blog she had an interesting post about the growing #ReleaseTheMemo story which is likely to become a very big thing in the next several weeks…
A review of a classified document outlining what is described as extensive Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act abuse was made available to all House members Thursday and the revelations could lead to the removal of senior officials in the FBI and Department of Justice, several sources with knowledge of the document stated. These sources say the report is “explosive,” stating they would not be surprised if it leads to the end of Robert Mueller’s Special Counsel investigation into President Trump and his associates.
The House Intelligence Committee passed the motion along party lines Thursday to make the classified report alleging extensive ‘FISA Abuse’ related to the controversial dossier available to all House members. The report contains information regarding the dossier that alleges President Trump and members of his team colluded with the Russians in the 2016 presidential election. Some members of the House viewed the document in a secure room Thursday.
Rep. Peter King, R-N.Y., offered the motion on Thursday to make the Republican majority-authored report available to the members.
“The document shows a troubling course of conduct and we need to make the document available, so the public can see it,” said a senior government official, who spoke on condition of anonymity due to the sensitivity of the document. “Once the public sees it, we can hold the people involved accountable in a number of ways.”
The government official said that after reading the document “some of these people should no longer be in the government.”
What’s in the memo in question? Nobody outside of the House of Representatives knows for sure, but substantially it appears the memo contains evidence that the Obama administration abused the FBI and the intelligence committee in order to spy on the Trump campaign, and specifically that the infamous “Steele dossier” produced by Fusion GPS and commissioned by the Clinton campaign, which included a host of salacious and provably false accusations about the current president’s conduct coming from sources inside the Putin regime, was walked into the FISA court and presented as evidence to provide probable cause for surveillance of the campaign.
There are two sides here, and the level of discord between them is probably larger than any in American political history.
The Democrat/NeverTrump side of this divide holds that there was indeed collusion between the Trump campaign and the Russians, and that the Mueller investigation is likely to turn up a pattern of behavior proving the campaign was rotten to the core and corrupted the political process. The NeverTrump crowd thinks that corruption came mostly during the Republican primary, while the Democrats think it came mostly in the general election. For those allied camps, whatever abuse the Obama administration may have committed would have been founded at least somewhat in Trump’s actions and therefore a continued Mueller investigation is a necessity.
That side of the divide will minimize the #ReleaseTheMemo movement as irrelevant, as to them the surveillance of the Trump campaign would be justified as a law enforcement/national security imperative.
Across the divide, though, #ReleaseTheMemo is a very, very big deal. After all, the Mueller investigation has gone on for a year and it has produced scant little in terms of evidence of any collusion between Trump’s campaign and the Russians. The only scores Mueller has made have been an indictment of one-time Trump campaign manager Paul Manafort on somewhat flimsy charges unrelated to the 2016 election and a pair of guilty pleas from one-time National Security Advisor Mike Flynn and a minor staffer named George Papadopoulos for lying to the FBI. In neither of those cases is there a real showing of any major links between Trump and the Russians, and after a year Mueller really should have more if there is any meat on the “collusion” bone.
But for the pro-Trump side it’s far bigger than that. What the #ReleaseTheMemo story suggests is the entire “collusion” narrative is a politically-motivated fraud aimed at falsely delegitimizing a duly-elected American president. After all, the elements indicate something a lot more sinister than a spun-up Mueller investigation – they point to a pattern of corruption and abuse inside the Obama administration and the Democrat Party which dwarfs anything this country has ever seen.
To the pro-Trump side, the pattern lays out like this: Hillary Clinton, who was thoroughly compromised by the Russians based on her Uranium One dealings, used Fusion GPS and Christopher Steele to reach out to her friends in Moscow to drum up a series of false allegations against Trump in order to smear him in advance of the election, but Fusion GPS’ product was of insufficient quality even for her friends in the media to run with in the summer of 2016. Clinton’s camp, with the Obama administration in willing service to them, refused to let the media’s snub faze them; instead, the FBI picked up the Steele dossier and walked it into a FISA court in order to get warrants to surveil the campaign – because once that surveillance was put in place who knows what kind of interesting and potentially game-changing dirt could be found on Trump.
And, as the thinking goes, the surveillance could produce information which may have been damaging enough to insure Clinton’s 2016 victory, or, failing that, maybe to force his resignation or impeachment if Trump did win.
Needless to say, if that fact pattern is correct this is a scandal of historic proportions which would necessitate mass unemployment of everyone in the government who participated and some rather high-profile indictments to boot.
Not to mention it could change the entire character of how average Americans see their government. As Lee Smith wrote in Tablet Magazine…
[I]f the FBI and Department of Justice used a piece of opposition research paid for by a political campaign as evidence for a warrant to intercept the communications of a rival campaign—and the questions asked by congressional investigators suggest they did—then we are now living in a very different America than the one that generations of civil libertarians and small-government conservatives alike desired to maintain, and which large majorities in Congress have repeatedly voted for. The DOJ, the FBI and perhaps the CIA would be embroiled in a scandal likely to have long-lasting and sweeping consequences for intelligence collection, national security, and the safety and privacy of American citizens, to say nothing of how it will demoralize federal law enforcement, which will appear to be mired in partisanship and political corruption.
Even more disconcerting is the increasing likelihood that the Steele dossier was used as a platform for a Russian information operation, which successfully managed to leverage nearly the entire American press corps and sections of the security bureaucracy toward the goal of encouraging Americans to rip their own country apart.
Smith’s piece is mostly about Fusion GPS head Glenn Simpson and whether the Trump-collusion story might even turn out to have been a Russian disinformation campaign which struck gold. It’s well worth a read for that angle, which could add even more explosive fuel to this story.
And that might explain why some of the House members who have seen the Intelligence Committee memo are talking about it in such demonstrative terms.
Here was Rep. Matt Gaetz (R-Florida) appearing on the Fox Business Network yesterday…
.@mattgaetz: "The allegations contained in this important intelligence document go to the very foundations of our democracy and they require an immediate release to the public in my opinion." pic.twitter.com/kqjxp21GcA
— FOX Business (@FoxBusiness) January 18, 2018
And here was Rep. Jim Jordan (R-Ohio) also discussing the #ReleaseTheMemo issue with Sean Hannity…
We can only guess what’s in that four-page memo, but it’s a fairly educated guess at this point. It’s apparent that the memo articulates many, if not all, of the elements of the pro-Trump narrative outlined above.
And while the legacy media might be invested with the other of these dueling narratives, if in fact the #ReleaseTheMemo material circulates and becomes grist for indictments and convictions it won’t be ignored forever.
These are indeed interesting times.