Ok. It’s here, as our Sarah Lee brought to you, initially, and it’s interesting (albeit, not mind blowing).
Given that there’s no backing, and that the FBI are pointing out that there are key omissions, this is surely going to be up for a long debate from both sides.
So let’s unpack what’s in the memo:
Point One – The oppo-research dossier from former British intelligence agent, Christopher Steele was part of the reasoning behind getting a FISA warrant going on Trump campaign aide, Carter Page.
When the initial application was filed in October 2016, it was not disclosed that the dossier was part of Clinton’s oppo-research. None of the subsequent renewals mentioned Clinton or the DNC, either. Justice Department and FBI leadership apparently knew its origins.
We’ve heard that the concerns of the FBI and DOJ are that there are inaccuracies and omissions. It seems like rather than get hyper-emotional over this (as I know some already have), we have to look at the wording of the memo.
What it says about the dossier, specifically, is: “…formed an essential part of the Carter Page FISA application.”
Ok. So if it’s just a part, what else? That statement suggests there were other elements not listed.
Also, what was used to warrant subsequent renewals? Would they not have to show cause for any continuance? What was gathered with the first warrant that would make further warrants feasible?
Point Two – A concern that Steele may have fed stories from the dossier to the media, and that those media reports were also a part of the FISA application on Page.
Also, Steele had done some work for the FBI, which was disclosed in a Mother Jones article in October 2016.
Ok. The memo talks about “should have,” as in Steele should have been fired before the application process on Page, but that he lied to the FBI about those contacts.
So this is the FBI’s fault? If he lied, isn’t it on him?
Point Three – The memo goes on in some detail about someone no longer with the Department of Justice, Bruce Ohr. At the time, Ohr was Associate Deputy Attorney General. It points out how Ohr worked closely with Deputy Attorney General Sally Yates (not really a surprise), and later, with Rod Rosenstein.
Ohr and Steele maintained contact. Ohr documented Steele’s feelings about Trump, and they weren’t positive. In fact, Steele, according to the memo, “was desperate that Donald Trump not get elected and was passionate about him not being president.”
That’s not really a shock. When the news of the dossier broke, there were interviews with Steele where he insisted that Trump’s connections with the Kremlin made him ripe for manipulation from Vladimir Putin.
Point Four – Well, Point Four is just ridiculous, actually.
According to the fourth item on the memo, when the initial FISA application was filed on Page, the act of corroborating the dossier was just beginning. It goes on to say that even though then-FBI Director James Comey felt the dossier was unsubstantiated, he briefed Trump on it in January 2017.
It goes on to say that Steele’s past work, his reputation was credible, then make the leap that OK – he’s a credible source, but this time, he’s working for the DNC, so we can’t trust him, anymore.
Ok. It doesn’t say exactly that, but it does say the man has done credible work. Christopher Steele was not a hack. He was a guy doing a job that he was good at, but it was still a job. And this was an election, so that makes everything awful.
So what is McCabe’s part?
The memo goes on to point out that McCabe cited the dossier information as reason for seeking out the warrant.
The final point is all about the “coffee boy,” George Papadopoulos, and the texting FBI lovers, Peter Strzok and Lisa Page.
What it points out is that the counterintelligence operation by the FBI began with Papadopoulos in late July 2016, led by Strzok.
Important note: Could the FBI investigation into Papadopoulos’ activities be a natural lead in to the FISA warrant for Carter Page? It came first, so why it’s mentioned last, I’m not sure. You’ll have to ask Devin Nunes.
Point Five rambles on from there pointing out the ludicrous notion that because Strzok and Page shared derogatory text messages about Trump during the election, that somehow ties all of this up in a big, pretty, conspiracy bow.
I won’t call it a “nothing burger.” I’ll say there was some sloppy work done on the part of some DOJ and FBI officials.
This will not derail Robert Mueller’s work.