Because the President actually did issue a declassification order, I can actually talk about the memo. I’ve now given it a thorough read and other than some insinuations, it seems like a lot of sizzle and no steak.
We went through former FBI Special Agent (for counterintelligence) Asha Rangappa’s detailed explanation of how a FISA warrant is obtained earlier in the week. There is nothing in the Nunes memo to indicate that any of these processes weren’t followed. Moreover, other than providing information that either the initial warrant to surveil Carter Page, who has been on the FBI’s radar since actual Russian intelligence officers trying to recruit him determined he was an idiot in 2013, or one of the subsequent renewals was based on some information from the Steele dossier it doesn’t seem to say much else about what the FBI is doing incorrectly in regard to the counterintelligence investigation of the President and his campaign. It also tells the whole world that Steel had long been a source for the FBI and deemed to be of high credibility because of his work for MI6. Finally, it tells us which DOJ and FBI officials signed off on the initial warrant request and renewals.
I’m honestly not sure what of this material needed to be classified in the first place. We know the process and procedure for requesting a FISA warrant. Including who has to sign off. So figuring out which DOJ and FBI officials signed off was limited to a group of 3 potential officials at DOJ and 2 at FBI who could have signed off. Frankly, unless or until we see the actual FISA warrant and FISA extension requests, hopefully with suitable redactions, all we have is a GOP committee chair who was on the President’s transition team making a political argument: that the FBI and DOJ, those hot beds of socialism and the vanguard of the Clinton machine, didn’t treat the President’s campaign fairly.
The real problem here is that we know that the FBI opened its counterintelligence investigation into the President’s campaign in July of 2016 as a result of information provided by Australian intelligence based on a contact report from the Australian High Commissioner regarding his meeting with George Papadapolous. The timelines of the allegations being made by Nunes and his staff in regard the start of the counterintelligence investigation in their memo just don’t line up with reality. They also don’t fit what we know of the processes and procedures required to obtain a FISA warrant. This reads very much like I have concluded X and am now going to argue backwards to demonstrate X.
I have no idea what really happens now. I know that there will be a partisan push to purge the DOJ and FBI leadership of people the President himself appointed, such as Deputy Attorney General Rosenstein. Or of career DOJ and FBI officials who are SESes in either career track supervisory positions or in appointed leadership positions. Because these latter group of officials are career civil servants, removing them will be quite difficult. Honestly, there is very little to the memo other than it will be used to increase the sturm and drang on Fox, Breitbart, by Rush and Hewitt and Dim Jim, etc, and on alt-right and MAGA social media to create pressure to remove DAG Rosenstein in the belief it will allow the President to then get rid of Special Counsel Mueller.
We are truly off the looking glass and through the map.
(Paragraph 3 edited/revised for clarity and to correct incorrect timeline information.)