No, Internet, the Nunes Memo Does Not Show the Memo Was Not the Cause of the Russia Probe

A twitter account that portrays itself as conservative, this would be @ReaganBattalion, is floating a narrative that says the Nunes memo actually disproves the entire premise that the Trump dossier had anything to do with the ongoing Russia probe.

They do this by slight of hand by, either through stupidity or duplicity, confusing several things.

The paragraph in question is referring to a FISA warrant application on Carter Page. It mentions that a counterintelligence investigation was started of George Papadopoulos in “late July.”

What they’ve done is say that because a FISA warrant application on Carter Page mentions an ongoing counterintelligence investigation focused on Papadopoulos that means that the Trump dossier has nothing to do with the Russia probe.

That’s nuts.

This is the timeline on Papadopoulos

In March 2016, he had a drinking bout with the Australian High Commissioner to Great Britain, Alexander Downer. Some time later, Downer told the Australian Ambassador to the UK, Joe Hockey. Hockey waited at least two months before telling US authorities. I am skeptical that this amounts to anything. The Papadopoulos indictment lays out a series of attempted contacts he had with Russian officials in March-August that seem a much more likely cause.

By late July, the FBI already had the dossier. Glenn Simpson testified that Christopher Steele met with the FBI in Rome (why Rome? The Rome office had been the focal point of the FIFA investigation in which Steele worked with the FBI) in June. And the FBI debriefed him on July 5. That is before “late July.”

The most logical reading of this is that the Page FISA warrant application simply mentions Papadopoulos (without seeing it, it is hard to understand the context) and it is not a reference to the larger Russia probe which would not need to be mentioned in a FISA warrant application.

Regardless, the investigation of Papadopoulos started weeks after the FBI had debriefed Steele and it is more likely than not that the dossier played a role in launching the Papadopoulos investigation than the silly assertion that the dossier was irrelevant to the Russia probe.