After days of anticipation and pressure from Republicans to release the secret Nunes memo, the memo is secret no more.
Devin Nunes, a Republican congressman and Chairman of the House Intelligence Committee, wrote a memo alleging deep corruption in the FBI, and specifically, the Mueller investigation. Trump, upon hearing of this memo, gave blessing to its release, despite strong objections from the FBI, who expressed “grave concerns” about its accuracy, and warned of the danger associated with releasing classified information.
Now, let’s get into the memo that’s being advertised by conservatives as “worse than watergate,” and, my personal favorite, “one hundred times bigger than the American revolution.”
The memo alleges the FBI inappropriately issued a FISA warrant to eavesdrop on Carter Page, Trump’s campaign foreign policy advisor, by using a salacious dossier created by former British spy, Christopher Steele, as evidence. FISA is a court that issues warrants to wiretap someone suspected of spying with or for a foreign government.
Now, the Justice Department, according to the memo, did not reveal to the court approving the surveillance that Steele’s work was funded by the DNC, and paid for “to obtain derogatory information on Donald Trump’s ties to Russia.” Nunes, who only read the Spark Notes version of the warrant, not the actual one, made a mistake.
The warrant originated when campaign advisor George Papadopoulos got a little tipsy in London and told the Australian ambassador to Britain that Russia had lots of dirt on Hillary Clinton. The Australian ambassador told this to the FBI, who then used this information to obtain the warrant. In an effort to discredit the Russia investigation, Republicans have, for months, pushed that the FBI began its inquiry on the basis of the dossier, and now this memo, which confesses the warrant came from the drunken Australian pub conversation, contradicts those claims.
Ultimately, the document raises the question: Is there an anti-Trump bias at the FBI? Truth be told, the memo’s unsettling, as it alleges partisanship in what should be the most trustworthy, bipartisan organization in America. But, if what the memo alleges was true, and the FBI and Mueller and the entire investigation is just one big ploy to take Trump out of office, how can you explain the arrests of Manafort and Gates? And what about Flynn, Paps and potentially dozens more who’ve made plea deals with Mueller, after declaring guilty of collusion to the court?
What does the release mean for the FBI and the Mueller investigation?
The memo can actually severely discredit the FBI. By making public a FISA warrant, which for years has been deemed too classified to make public, puts FBI workers in danger as they navigate through the deeply secretive investigation, and legitimizes the actual organization.
But, for now, Mueller’s investigation will continue, Trump will proceed to attack the FBI, and we’ll just have to wait and see what happens next.