House Intelligence Committee Releases Full Memo Alleging Serious Breaches By FBI In Russian Investigation

HouseofRepSealI will be discussing the memo today in a column in the Hill as well as in the segment with Tucker Carlson.   I fail to see the “grave” classified information that would put the national security at risk.  Indeed, my column addresses the disconnect between the objections made by the FBI and Democratic members and the actual memo. The use of classification laws to prevent disclosure of embarrassing information is itself an abuse of federal law and standards.

The Republicans may have undermined their case by building up this memo as a smoking gun document. Portrayals seems to make this memo the virtual combination of the Pentagon Papers and the Zimmerman telegram. After all of the build up, anything short of a depiction of Hillary Clinton forcing a judge to sign a secret warrant at gunpoint would disappoint most readers. However, there is plenty in this memo that should deeply concern people.

Civil libertarians have complained for years about the tactical use of classification authority by the federal agencies.  This seems a rare and important example of that problem. As to the specific factual representations, they raise clearly troubling questions that need to be addressed on the failure to disclosure information to the FISA court and the alleged heavy reliance on this dossier.

Below is the full memo:

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The Man From Rule X: The House Intelligence Chair Invokes Long-Overdue Power To Override Agencies On A Public Release

download-2Below is my column in the Hill newspaper on the move by the House Intelligence Committee to release the four-page memo on alleged FBI abuse.  The FBI has objected that “omissions” have made the memo “inaccurate.”  However, that does not sound like a classification defense. Indeed, a long-standing objection is that the intelligence agencies classify material that is embarrassing or damaging to the agency politically.  Since the memo reportedly deals with the use of the dossier for a FISA warrant, it would seem possible to draft a memo that did not compromise methods and sources.  We will soon likely know, according to reports that President Donald Trump has reviewed the document and decided to release it.  He is ultimately the final word on classification status in the Executive Branch.

Here is the column:

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Schiff Accuses Nunes Of Altering Memo Before Submission To Trump For Possible Release

440px-Adam_Schiff_115th_official_photo The plot thickened last night over the anticipated release of a four-page memo from the House Intelligence Committee.  California Rep. Adam Schiff (D) publicly accused House Intelligence Committee Chairman Devin Nunes (R-Calif.) of giving President Trump a “secretly altered” version of the memo to review for possible release.  The Schiff allegation raises an interesting issue under the House that could theoretically warrant judicial review (though the outcome is far from certain).  The Committee staff is arguing that the changes were minor edits, including grammatical changes.

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Report: Wray Opposes Release of Nunes Memo

440px-Chris_Wray_official_photoAccording to Bloomberg, FBI Director Christopher Wray told the White House he opposes the release of controversial four-page memo from the House Intelligence Committee.  What is notable about the report is that the objection is allegedly due to what Wray views as a false and inaccurate narrative. However, that should not be a reason alone to classify and withhold a document under Rule X.

 

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The State of The Union and the State Of American Politics Of Division

imagesPresident Donald Trump’s first State of the Union address covered a wide array of domestic and international issues. At eighty minutes, it was long of the longest such speeches.  Putting the policies aside, Trump’s delivery last night was one of his strongest. Indeed, while many have objected to the content, it was a much better delivery than his inauguration in my opinion.  CBS News is reporting that 75 percent of Americans watching approved of the speech.

However, most of us in the Beltway were watching the awkward tension between the members, including the absence of boycotting members and at least one incident of loud booing from the Democratic members.  Rep. Luis Gutierrez was shown walking out as members chanting “USA, USA.” (He later remarked  “Whoever translated it for him from Russian did a good job.”) Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi led most Democrats out of the door immediately after the President finished and most Democrats did not applaud for most of the speech.  I have been previously critical of a Republican member protesting during the State of the Union\ and a serious breach of tradition by Associate Justice Sam Alito.

Here is my column in the Hill newspaper on the controversy.

 

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CNN: McCabe’s Abrupt Departure May Be Tied To Internal Investigation Findings

McCabeThe early departure of FBI Deputy Director Andrew McCabe has led to a spasm of speculation and criticism ranging from Comey’s warning of the destruction of  FBI knuckling under President Donald Trump to overwrought analogies to the rise of Hitler by one CNN commentator.  However, there are indications that McCabe may have been shown the door by FBI Director Chris Wray and even told that he faced demotion in light of an internal investigation.  Notably, on the eve of this disclosure a story was leaked that detailed the conversation between McCabe and Trump where Trump taunts McCabe about his wife being a political “loser.”  If true, the comments were shocking and distasteful but the emergence of these conflicting accounts show the intense struggle in Washington to control the narrative following McCabe taking leave pending his retirement. There have also been allegations of leaks by McCabe as both sides seeks to frame this controversy.

 

What is also notable is the continued leaks from Trump’s inner circle.  A new report describes Trump having a “tirade” on Air Force One because a top Justice Department official objected to the release of the four-page memo.  The content and speed of his leak is clearly meant to damage Trump and has to be coming from within his close staff — a recurring problem.  The motivation behind these leaks is an interesting question. It is not clear if it is meant to simply damage or somehow to deter the President .

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“Fake News, Fake News”: Trump Denies That He Wanted To Fire Mueller In June

donald_trump_president-elect_portrait_croppedAt the Davos conference in Switzerland, President Donald Trump denied the New York Times account that he ordered the firing of Special Counsel in June but was prevented by doing so when White House Counsel Don McGahn threatened to resign.  It is a highly disturbing allegation since such an act would have been catastrophic for the Trump Administration.  Now however President Trump is denying the story — responding to reporters with “fake news, fake news.”  What is curious is that the White House and particularly the White House Counsel did not deny the story.

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