Before I begin to explain everything you need to know about the Nunes Memo, there are several connected items which you first need to be made aware of. These items will help provide clarity in understanding the context of how and why the memo was created in the first place. Let’s begin…
Who Is Congressman Devin Nunes
- Devin Nunes is a Congressman from the 22nd district in California. He serves as the Chairman of the House Intelligence Committee, which is one of the committees currently investigating Russia’s interference into our 2016 Presidential election.
- Nunes and his staff are the authors of the recently released “Republican memo” which has been constantly reported in the news.
- Longtime Trump Supporter: Early during the Presidential election, Devin Nunes served as an intelligence advisor to the Trump campaign. Nunes also was part of the Trump transition team after Trump won the Presidential election.
- In March of 2017, Devin Nunes was forced to recuse himself from the Trump/Russian investigation due to his past ties and support of the Trump campaign and because he was caught sharing intelligence information with the White House. During the investigation, Nunes reviewed classified evidence and took that information to the White House to share it with the person being investigated (President Trump). This was a complete and total violation of investigative ethics and led to calls for Nunes to recuse himself from the investigation.
Who Is Christopher Steele
- Steele was a longtime intelligence official in Britain’s MI6 (which is like our CIA).
- Steele worked for years as an agent in the UK’s Moscow Embassy. He has a long history of Russian intelligence and is a leading expert on the Russian state.
- Many may remember the 2015 FBI investigation of FIFA corruption. This investigation was started by Chris Steele and his investigation company. Steele is a serious investigator who has established creditability with the FBI and other American intelligence agencies.
- Steele was hired during the campaign to conduct opposition research on Donald Trump. He is the author of the Trump dossier which has been widely reported in the media.
The Trump Dossier
In order to understand how the Trump dossier was developed, you first have to understand oppositional research. Op research is something that all campaigns (Democrat and Republican) do on a regular basis. It’s a day to day part of politics. Whenever someone decides to run for public office, particularly the Presidency, it is common practice for a candidate to hire investigators or law firms to conduct oppositional research on their opponents. Basically, the goal is to find dirt from your opponents past which can be used to discredit them during the campaign. However, during Chris Steele’s investigation, he began to quickly become alarmed by the information he was finding and soon realized that the information he was compiling was more then just Op research. The complete dossier and timeline can be found here.
- In late 2015, a Republican publisher who supported Ted Cruz for President, hired a company called Fusion GPS to conduct Op research on Donald Trump. In the Spring of 2016, after Trump won the Primaries, the contract was picked up by the DNC and Clinton campaign. In June that same year Fusion GPS hired Chris Steele to lead the investigation and conduct the Op research.
- Steele submitted his first memo to Fusion GPS on June 20th. The memo detailed information he was uncovering related to the Russian government and their cultivation of Donald Trump over the past five years. Steele was also finding information about possible money laundering involving Russians connected to Trump as well as information indicating that the Russian government was attempting to involve themselves in the American presidential election through contacts with Trump campaign officials.
- On July 5, 2016, Chris Steele realized that the information he was uncovering was not your normal op research. He decided to report his findings to the FBI for further investigation.
- On July 19, 2016, Steele submits another memo detailing a meeting that Trump campaign official Carter Page had with members of the Russian government. Throughout the summer, Steele continued to document meetings and interactions between Trump campaign officials and Russians.
- By late summer, Steele reported that there was a well-established conspiracy of cooperation between the Trump campaign and the Russian government. Steele’s report suggests that the DNC leaked emails were released in exchange for Trump questioning NATO’s value and sidelining the Ukraine – which eventually, coincidentally happen.
- In October of 2016, Chris Steele briefs FBI agents on his investigation and findings in Rome.
The Nunes Memo
On October 19, 2016, the FBI appeared before a FISA judge to request a surveillance warrant on Trump campaign official, Carter Page. FISA is the foreign intelligence surveillance act. FISA judges are federal judges appointed by the Supreme Court Chief Justice (who is a Republican). These judges hear top secret intelligence and evidence and make determinations about whether people can legally be surveilled or not. In order to approve surveillance, judges must first hear evidence presented by prosecutors or investigators and this evidence must be credible.
All the drama over the Nunes memo is simple to understand once you have all the context listed above. Republicans (Devin Nunes) claims that the FBI was out to get Donald Trump and conspired to take him down by surveilling Trump’s campaign officials based on information which stemmed from a political document paid for by the DNC (Steele dossier). That’s all this drama is about (You can read full memo here.)
Here Is My Take
So now that you have a clear understanding of what’s going on, here is my take on all this drama…
1) Consider the source
Does anyone really think that a person who worked on the Trump campaign, worked on the Trump transition, and actively supported Trump could serve as an honest broker when it comes to investigating the Trump/Russian connection? Mind you, Devin Nunes is the same person who back in March of 2017 had to recuse himself from this investigation because he supplied the White House with classified evidence which was compiled during the course of the investigation. That would be like police officers sharing crime evidence with their crime suspect. It’s clear that the Nunes memo was nothing more then another political stunt by Devin Nunes to provide Trump some type of cover from this investigation.
2) There is no FISA conspiracy
This idea that the Republicans are pushing that somehow the FBI, FISA court and God knowns who else are all in some kind of interconnected conspiracy to take down Donald Trump is just simply nonsense. The truth is that surveillance on Carter Page was approved by a federal FISA judge – not the FBI. The judge heard evidence and made a decision to approve surveillance of Page. Also, the memo indicates that surveillance was approved two additional times. This would mean that the judge would have had to hear additional evidence which would justify the continuation of the surveillance.
3) Who cares if the dossier is a political document
The only argument the memo makes is that surveillance should have never been approved solely based on a political document – the Steele dossier. Frankly, I don’t care if the Steele dossier started as a political op research document. The question is, are the facts listed in the dossier true? And the answer to that questions is, yes! While some items in the dossier, mainly information about Trump and women, are salacious and unproven, the information which details the Trump campaign’s connections to the Russian government has been corroborated by other evidence obtained by the FBI throughout their investigation. The predictions in the dossier also correctly correspond to events which actually would later take place. So again, my concern is not where the information came from, my concern is whether the information is true. And so far, it has proven to be factual.
In the end, the Nunes memo is nothing more than desperate Republicans attempting to provide their base some type of a defense when it comes to the Trump/Russian investigation. They had to come up with something to protect Trump, so they decided to push this conspiracy narrative which blames the FBI for abusing their power in going after Trump. The truth is simple. It is now clearly apparent that something took place between Russians and the Trump campaign during the Presidential election. We also know that Trump, despite him saying he didn’t know any Russians, had several financial connections to Russians over the years. We also know that there are emails showing the Trump campaign’s interest in obtaining dirt on Hillary Clinton from the Russian government. Lastly, we know that several Trump officials lied about their contacts with Russians and failed to report this information on their government forms. All of this, combined with the information contained in the Steel dossier provide an abundance of circumstantial evidence which shows that some type of collusion took place. If Trump and Republicans have nothing to hide, why do they continue to attack this investigation and the FBI? In time, the truth will reveal their motives.