On Wednesday, the House Intelligence Committee had two key votes. By a unanimous vote, it decided to release a transcript of the testimony given by Fusion GPS founder Glenn Simpson before that committee. In a party-line vote, it approved a motion by Peter King to make available to any member of the House desiring to see it a report compiled by the committee majority that detailed abuses of surveillance programs and showed how the Trump dossier was bootstrapped into probable cause for a FISA warrant.
This compilation is not text messages between an FBI horndog and his main squeeze. The information is sufficiently classified that it must be read inside a Sensitive Compartmented Information Facility (SCIF). This means it is a) Top Secret and b) derived from classified programs.
We know some of the parameters of what was in the file. In the early days of the Trump administration, Devin Nunes visited the National Security Council and was shown by then-director of intelligence programs, Ethan Cohen-Watnick, details of the unmasking of various Trump officials swept up in FISA intercepts. It is, I surmise, from this info dump that we eventually learned that our Ambassador to the United Nations, Samantha Power, ordered the unmasking of US persons at a rate in excess of one per business day while she was in the UN. For what reason? It is hard to think of a legitimate one. The knowledge of abuse of the ability to unmask US persons not under surveillance nearly derailed the FISA reauthorization. The concern is not trivial.
Added to this is the knowledge that Paul Manafort, then a member of the transition team of an incoming president, was placed under FISA surveillance after the election and Trump was not warned about the intelligence concerns. This, according to a letter from Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Chuck Grassley to FBI Director Christopher Wray, was contrary to the way the FBI had operated in the past.
Nunes then undertook a lengthy battle with Justice and the FBI for access to documents on how the FBI used the Trump dossier and on its use as evidence in obtaining FISA warrants on Carter Page and Paul Manafort. It was shortly after Nunes won this fight and received the documents that this
Joined @RepMattGaetz & other House colleagues sending letter to @HouseIntelComm to #ReleaseTheMemo. The American people deserve the truth. Don't pull the wool over their eyes. #ReleaseTheFile #FISAMemo pic.twitter.com/a62IyDeDCD
— Lee Zeldin (@RepLeeZeldin) January 20, 2018
Earlier this morning, I examined the classified, four-page memo from @HouseIntelComm regarding the FBI, DOJ, and the so-called #RussianCollusion. To put it simply, “WOW.” I joined the call to #ReleaseTheMemo. Americans deserve truth and transparency. pic.twitter.com/r2RJnLNaUL
— Rep. Jody Hice (@CongressmanHice) January 19, 2018
I viewed the classified report from House Intel relating to the FBI, FISA abuses, the infamous Russian dossier, and so-called "Russian collusion." What I saw is absolutely shocking.
— Mark Meadows (@MarkMeadows) January 19, 2018
— Rep. Jim Jordan (@Jim_Jordan) January 19, 2018
Some of these people, particularly Jim Jordan and Mark Meadows, were held in high regard until their fidelity to duty, in this case, ran head-on into the buzz-saw of unreasoning Trump-hate.
Right now about 65 GOP members of Congress have signed a letter asking Paul Ryan to make available to the American public some version of the memo. It won’t be what they’ve seen in the SCIF but it will give us an idea of what they have seen.
The main debate in the House centered not around the memo’s secret allegations, but whether the classified document can be publicly released without compromising FBI sources and methods.
“You don’t want the enemy to know that,” said Rep. Peter King (R-N.Y.), an intelligence committee member who supports allowing his colleagues — but not the public — to see the full document. “This is not to protect the guilty. It’s to protect the innocent.”
Other members ofthe panel were similarly cautious. Rep. Mike Conaway (R-Texas), said that releasing the complete memo would be “dangerous.” Rep. Chris Stewart (R-Utah) said he’d only be comfortable if a “scrubbed” or “unclassified” version of the memo were released. And King said he’d support a “redacted” version of the report to inform the public of their findings.
But several of the president’s top congressional allies—who were already harsh critics of the FBI and the Justice Department—described the memo’s findings in dire terms and said it was urgent to reveal to Americans.
“I think that this will not end just with firings. I believe there are people who will go to jail,” said Rep. Matt Gaetz (R-Fla.) in an interview on Fox News.
“I no longer hold out hope there is an innocent explanation for the information the public has seen. I have long said it is worse than Watergate,” said Rep. Steve King (R-Iowa).
Several GOP lawmakers came close to describing the memo’s classified contents Friday, saying it describes purported abuses of the FISA—or Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act—program by Obama administration officials, mishandling of a tool to “unmask” the identities Americans swept up in intercepts and mishandling of a disputed dossier that alleged criminal ties between Trump and Russia.
And some very serious conservatives are also saying the memo should be released.
First D's say dossier is super important. Then it comes out Clinton bought it. Then they say it isn't important. Then try to block release to Congress. Now, when it may go public, proactively discrediting. Odd behavior for "truth seekers." #ReleaseTheMemo https://t.co/jtoQImVJuo
— Kimberley Strassel (@KimStrassel) January 19, 2018
‘EXAGGERATES’ findings? Sounds like (a) there are findings, (b) they are not good, and (c) no one can say they are fabricated. That already gives the more standing than, say, ‘salacious and unverified.’ I’m with Kim: Let’s stop the BS and #ReleaseTheMemo. https://t.co/Jqef6AbCoR
— Andy McCarthy (@AndrewCMcCarthy) January 20, 2018
I'm told roughly 140 members of House have read the Intel Committee memo. That number apparently includes one Democrat, beyond Democrats on the committee, who have also seen.
— Byron York (@ByronYork) January 20, 2018
The Democrat response to all of this is basically
Also, House Intel Committee Democrats have released a statement on what they call the 'Republican talking points document.' Here it is: pic.twitter.com/mnUNLgTZTa
— Byron York (@ByronYork) January 20, 2018
The counterpoint to Adam “Bug-Eyes” Schiff claiming that the underlying documents are so super-duper top secret that it would be impossible to dispel the lies that evil Republicans were passing off without divulging super-duper top secret information, was an active campaign started by Media Matters to link anyone who is in favor of releasing this memo to the Russians. This is a typically shameful and dishonest tactic that we’ve come to expect from Media Matters and their online trolls.
And FusionGPS flunky Ken Delanian has weighed in trying to link anyone in favor of releasing the Nunes memo to Russia:
To all the Trump supporters who are tweeting at me that you are not Russian bots, I believe most of you. My point is that your #releasethememo is the top trending hashtag among the Russian bots and trolls over the last 48 hours, and you might want to ask yourself why.
— Ken Dilanian (@KenDilanianNBC) January 19, 2018
I don’t have to ask myself why because I don’t care why. I don’t cower at night fearful that Vladimir Putin or his minions are hiding under my bed. I don’t care if Russian bots follow me on Twitter (they don’t, but a follower is a follower, if any Russians are reading this, be sure to follow me @streiffredstate). How do the people who are claiming the Russians want this released know that the obvious trail of Russian bots pushing for the release isn’t designed to discredit the idea and prevent the release? Don’t the Russians do anything secretly anymore?
And then you get the totally unhinged:
There is absolutely no piece of paper like this stupid memo Devin Nunes is blabbing about that changes the fact dozens of Trump team members were in direct contact Russians during the campaign, transition & while in the White House. Anyone saying “release the memo” is a traitor.
— Scott Dworkin (@funder) January 19, 2018
Why do these guys seem so scared about information about what Obama and his punks did to weaponize the government against his political enemies . https://t.co/yd7gXxGaoZ
— Kurt Schlichter (@KurtSchlichter) January 20, 2018
I am in agreement with Andy McCarthy on this but I think the problem is much larger than McCarthy does. He labors, in my opinion, under the naive and childlike illusion that the FBI and the intelligence community weren’t weaponized by the Obama administration. But I think our HotAir colleague Allahpundit gets this right:
— Allahpundit (@allahpundit) January 19, 2018
In his post he says:
Release it, release it, release it. Ed wrote about it this morning but I want to kick in my vote for hashtag releasing-the-memo too. Because, given the spectacularly dire assessments from House Republicans who’ve read it — “You think about, ‘is this happening in America or is this the KGB?’” — one of only two things can be true.
1. Devin Nunes has uncovered an earth-shaking abuse of power at the DOJ in which a dubious dossier was cooked up into a FISA warrant to investigate the Republican nominee for president for nakedly partisan reasons. And the FISA Court, which is supposed to scrutinize warrants for probable cause, simply rubber-stamped the application and went along. If that’s true, that the entire Russiagate probe is a political hit on Trump with two branches of government in on it, we need to know now. Yesterday. And by “yesterday” I mean “15 months ago.”
2. Devin Nunes is a water-carrying hack for Trump who’s distorted what the DOJ did and didn’t do with the dossier and its FISA application, and so are the various Republicans who are heavy-breathing about what the memo says. If that’s true, that the president’s cronies have concocted a bogus narrative about FBI malfeasance to try to discredit Mueller’s probe before it gets any closer to Trump, we need to know now. They’re destroying the credibility of federal law enforcement to serve their political chieftain.
So release it. Ask Trump to declassify it, put it out there, and let America know the terrible truth either way. But, because we can’t judge whether Nunes is a hack unless we can see for ourselves what his memo is based on, we’ll need the source documents too. Redact as necessary for natsec reasons, but they also need to be declassified and published. Otherwise, why should we believe a word Nunes says?
If Democrats are as confident as they claim to be that Nunes is a hack, they should be as eager to #ReleaseTheMemo as righties are today, if not more so. The longer they wait, the more the hype machine is going to build a myth around it that it absolutely proves the Russiagate probe is a witch hunt based on nothing … no matter what the finer details of the memo are.
But the Democrats aren’t going to support releasing the memo for one very simple reason. They know what’s in it and they know what will happen when the Schiff finally hits the fan.