A lot of things have been said about the memo crafted by House Intelligence Committee chairman Devin Nunes that supposedly claims the FBI and Justice Department engaged in ghastly abuses of power during the investigation into Russia’s effort to hack the election.
The FBI thinks it presents an inaccurate and incomplete picture of the investigation. The Democrats say it’s a partisan hatchet job–and that they can prove it’s smoke and mirrors. But David French of National Review peered into the memo’s guts and found something else. From where French is sitting, far from blowing apart the investigation’s credibility, the memo actually bolsters it.
The central argument made by those who spent most of the last few weeks screaming “Release the memo!” is that Nunes amassed irrefutable proof that the FBI was working hand in glove with the Hillary Clinton campaign to derail first Trump’s campaign, then his presidency. As this story goes, the investigation was triggered by Christopher Steele’s “golden showers” dossier alleging that Russia had a trove of kompromat on Trump–which, as it turned out, began as opposition research on Trump for the Clinton campaign.
But French noticed something in the memo’s final paragraph that appears to blow apart this conspiracy theory.
“The Page FISA application also mentions information regarding fellow Trump campaign advisor George Papadopoulos, but there is no evidence of any cooperation or conspiracy between Page and Papadopoulos. The Papadopoulos information triggered the opening of an FBI counterintelligence investigation in late July 2016 by FBI agent Pete Strzok.”
Now why does this matter? Well, as we now know, that information was a red alert from Australian authorities about a conversation two months earlier between Papadopoulos and Australia’s high commissioner to London, Alexander Downer. A drunken Papadopoulos told Downer that Russia had a trove of dirt on Hillary. The Australians didn’t think anything of it until Wikileaks started churning out leaked emails from Democratic outlets. Australian intelligence then alerted their American counterparts, prompting the FBI to open an investigation into potential collusion between the Trump campaign and the Kremlin.
Apparently this is one of the “material omissions” the FBI warned about when it urged Trump not to greenlight the memo’s release. But to French’s mind, it’s more than that. It proves that The New York Times was on to something when it first revealed Papadopoulos’ drunken railing was what led the FBI to wonder if Russia was trying to hack the election. In the process, French believes that Nunes inadvertently “blew up the core argument” against Mueller’s probe. Rather than prove that the investigation was launched by the dossier, Nunes tacitly admitted that “it existed before the dossier.”
French put it more succinctly on Twitter.
— David French (@DavidAFrench) February 3, 2018
French believes that the memo actually “confirms the necessity” of having Mueller run the investigation. He walled off the investigation from “problematic elements” in the Hoover Building, and move swiftly to discipline Strzok after numerous anti-Trump text messages he sent to FBI lawyer Lisa Page came to light. Additionally, Mueller has amassed “copious amounts of alarming evidence” that aren’t based solely on the “golden showers” dossier.
This should have been obvious to anyone following this investigation. But it’s very telling that National Review, one of the stalwarts of the conservative movement, has been willing to take off the blinders and realize that this memo doesn’t even begin to do what Nunes said it would do.
Trump has spent most of the weekend beating his chest and yelling to the heavens that Nunes exonerated him.
This memo totally vindicates “Trump” in probe. But the Russian Witch Hunt goes on and on. Their was no Collusion and there was no Obstruction (the word now used because, after one year of looking endlessly and finding NOTHING, collusion is dead). This is an American disgrace!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) February 3, 2018
But any competent reading of the memo proves otherwise. It didn’t expose an “American disgrace.” Rather, it proves that there actually was a there there before the “golden showers” dossier.
(featured image courtesy Nunes’ Facebook)