Democrat's FISA memo doesn’t refute GOP charges

Democrat's FISA memo doesn’t refute GOP charges
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For all the hype and breathless commentary by Democrat cheerleaders in the media, the memo released on Friday by the House Intelligence Committee Democrats fails to live up to its key claims.

  1. It provides no information to disprove the Republican claim that the Department of Justice and the FBI relied heavily on the phony Steele Trump-Russia “dossier” to obtain the first of four FISA search warrants against Trump volunteer, Carter Page.
  2. It fails to establish that DoJ and the FBI properly informed the FISA court that the fake Steele dossier had been commissioned and paid for by the Hillary ClintonHillary Diane Rodham ClintonTrump mocks 'elites' at campaign rally Trump backs down in rare reversal Election Countdown: Family separation policy may haunt GOP in November | Why Republican candidates are bracing for surprises | House Dems rake in record May haul | 'Dumpster fire' ad goes viral MORE campaign.
  3. It fails to counter the GOP claim that FBI deputy director Andrew McCabeAndrew George McCabeHillicon Valley: New FTC chief eyes shake up of tech regulation | Lawmakers target Google, Huawei partnership | Microsoft employees voice anger over ICE contract Senate Intel requests more testimony from Comey, McCabe No, Christopher Wray, we don't trust you MORE admitted to the House Intelligence committee during his closed-door testimony on December 19, 2017 that without the dossier, the government never could have obtained a FISA court warrant to spy on U.S. citizen Carter Page.

And yet, the Democrats claim they accomplished all three in their 10 page counter-memo. They do so by throwing sand in the eyes of the American people, misrepresenting the facts and introducing alternate facts in an effort at misdirection.

For example, right on the first page, the Democrat memo introduces the first of a series of straw man arguments.

“Christopher Steele’s raw intelligence reporting did not inform the FBI’s decision to initiate its counterintelligence investigation in late July 2016,” the Democrats claim.

But that’s not what the Nunes memo alleged. The original Republican memo focused almost exclusively on the procedures employed by the FBI and DoJ to obtain four FISA court warrants to spy on an American citizen, Carter Page. On page 4 of their memo, the GOP authors state that the initial FISA application “also mentions information regarding fellow Trump campaign advisor George PapadopoulosGeorge Demetrios PapadopoulosSenate staffer's indictment exposes the pitifully corrupt nature of Trump-Russia probe Hillicon Valley: Deal reached on ZTE, but lawmakers look to block it | New encryption bill | Dems push Ryan for net neutrality vote | Google vows it won't use AI for weapons Trump weighing roughly a half dozen new clemency cases MORE,” and that this information “triggered the opening of an FBI counterintelligence investigation in late July 2016 by FBI agent Peter Strzok.”

The Democrat memo uses heavy brush strokes to paint a picture of Carter Page as a likely Russian spy, noting that he “resided in Moscow from 2004-2007 and pursued business deals with Russia’s state-owned energy company Gazprom,” and that a “Russian intelligence officer (redacted) targeted Page for recruitment.”

Continuing in this vein, the Democrats note that in 2013, federal prosecutors “indicted three other Russian spies, two of whom targeted Page for recruitment,” and then give a dripping report of  “Page’s suspicious activity during the 2016 campaign.”

Frankly, if I were Carter Page I would consider suing Rep. Adam SchiffAdam Bennett SchiffHillicon Valley: New FTC chief eyes shake up of tech regulation | Lawmakers target Google, Huawei partnership | Microsoft employees voice anger over ICE contract Schiff invites Strzok to appear before House Intelligence Committee White House faces growing outcry over migrant family policies MORE (D-Mass.), the Democrat ranking member of the House intelligence committee responsible for this scurrilous screed, for defamation.

The amount of misleading information about Page contained in these pages is extraordinary and amounts to character assassination.

For example, federal prosecutors have stated on the record that Page willingly came to the FBI in 2013 when individuals he suspected of working for Russian intelligence tried to recruit him at an energy conference.

Page’s willingness to work with federal law enforcement against suspected Russia agents in the United States led to a federal sealed indictment against three of those agents in January 2015. Page acknowledged his role in that case in 2017 interview with Buzzfeed.

The intent of the Democrats through these heady allegations is to focus attention on Carter Page, so we forget about the Steele dossier, which was the subject of the Nunes memo they claim to be “refuting.”

The Democrats next claim that DoJ “repeatedly informed the (FISA) Court about Steele’s background, credibility, and potential bias.”

The Nunes memo only differs with them on that final point, Steele’s bias. And this is precisely where DoJ and the FBI misled the FISA court.

“DoJ in fact informed the Court accurately that Steele was hired by politically-motivated U.S. persons and entities and that his research appeared intended for use ‘to discredit’ Trump’s campaign,” the Democrats assert.

That is true, and the Nunes memo never claims the contrary. But that is a far cry from telling the FISA judges that the Steele dossier was bought and paid for by the Hillary Clinton presidential campaign.

At the time of the FISA court application, in October 2016, Donald TrumpDonald John TrumpFamily immigration detention centers could be at capacity within days: report Trump likely to meet with Putin in July: report DOJ requests military lawyers to help prosecute immigration crimes: report MORE had enemies all across the political spectrum, so to inform the court that one of these sources had hired Steele would not have come as a surprise. But the fact Steele was hired by the DNC? Nowhere did that information appear in the FISA Court application, a fact that the Democrat memo does not — and cannot — deny.

Democrats were quick to claim that the Nunes memo misrepresented the Dec. 19, 2017 testimony by deputy FBI director Andrew McCabe before the Committee, and that McCabe never told them that without the Steele dossier, the FBI and DoJ could never have gotten the FISA warrants on Carter Page.

While McCabe is mentioned several times in the latest Democrat memo, its authors are presumably careful not to challenge a fact that could be corroborated in the transcript of McCabe’s testimony, which both Republicans and Democrats have now seen. Without the Steele dossier, McCabe said, FBI and DoJ could never have gotten the FISA warrant; indeed, an earlier effort without the dossier, failed. The Democratic memo doesn't challenge this fact

The original Nunes memo revealed the scandalous politicization of our intelligence community in its efforts to mislead the American public with phony tales of Trump-Russia collusion. The Democrats memo just continues this politicization.

The intelligence community should not be in the business of peddling a narrative to the American people, let alone investigating the political opponents of the party in power.

That is the real story we have not gotten to the bottom of yet.

Kenneth R. Timmerman was the 2012 Republican Congressional nominee for MD-8 and is the author of "Deception: The Making of the YouTube Video Hillary & Obama Blamed for Benghazi," published by Post Hill Press.