Three weeks after Devin Nunes’ supposedly earth-shaking #ReleaseTheMemo was actually released over the objections of the FBI and the Department of Justice, and the nation responded with a giant, collective ‘Is that all?’ And two weeks after Donald Trump blocked Democrats from releasing a more extensive document pointing out the many lies of omission and lies of commission included in Nunes’ work, the House Intelligence Committee finally released a redacted version of the Democratic memo.
The Nunes memo focused on a single incident, the re-issue of a FISA warrant against Trump adviser Carter Page, and insisted that event somehow signaled government overreach, and was based on information from British intelligence officer Christopher Steele that was brought to the court through deception for partisan purposes.
The Democratic response, primarily drafted by Rep. Adam Schiff, details how the all of that is itself a deeply partisan fiction created to defend Trump against an investigation that is grinding inexorably closer to the top. A list from the New York Times neatly lays out some prominent points of the Democratic response.
The FISA warrant was based on a lot of difference sources, of which the information from Steele was only a small part.
It describes multiple other categories of information, including yearslong suspicions that Mr. Page was being recruited by Russian spies, and revealed that the F.B.I. had interviewed Mr. Page about his ties to Russian intelligence officials in March 2016.
On other parts of the Nunes memo, such as the contention that a story in Yahoo News had been used to validate information, even though the information in that article ultimately originated with Steele, the Democratic response was more blunt—that was simply a lie.
The Democratic memo calls that a false claim by the Republicans.
Instead the Yahoo article was used only to show that Page himself was denying his involvement with Moscow.
In short, the Democratic response showed that Nunes was full of … it. Which, of course, drew a response from Nunes.
Nunes starts with such a counterintuitive nonsense statement that the fabric of reality gets a good stretch.
House Intelligence Committee Chairman Devin Nunes (R-Calif.) said early Sunday that Democrats didn't want their countermemo made public because it only "bolsters" a GOP memo alleging surveillance abuses and they are now "defending the dirty dossier with their own dirty dossier."
House Democrats don’t want their memo released. They demonstrated this by sending it to Donald Trump for release, and then … releasing it. And then Nunes follows up the lies of his memo, by simply lying about what’s in the Democratic memo.
"And that's why we wanted it out and they didn't because it bolsters the case that we made specifically on the [Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act] abuse that the court wasn't notified that the Clinton campaign and the Democrats paid for this dirt that ended up being phony," he added.
Except, that’s not at all what the Democratic memo shows.
The Democratic memo provides a verbatim excerpt from the application, which stated that the F.B.I. believed that Mr. Steele had been commissioned by someone “likely looking for information that could be used to discredit Candidate #1’s campaign,” referring to Mr. Trump.
What the original FISA application included was exactly this:
“was approached by an identified U.S. Person, who indicated to Source #1 that a U.S.-based law firm had hired the identified U.S. Person to conduct research regarding Candidate #1’s ties to Russia. (The identified U.S. Person and Source #1 have a long-standing business relationship.) The identified U.S. person hired Source #1 to conduct this research. The identified U.S. Person never advised Source #1 as to the motivation behind the research into Candidate #1’s ties to Russia. The FBI speculates that the identified U.S. Person was likely looking for information that could be used to discredit Candidate #1’s campaign.”
In other words, the Democratic memo doesn’t just say the exact opposite of what Nunes is claiming, it backs it up with the original text of the FISA submission. But Nunes isn’t letting any facts get in his way.
"Just to sum up, this is almost like you have people defending the dirty dossier with their own dirty dossier," Nunes said.
So, Nunes is left both claiming that the Democratic memo only backs up what he said in his memo, and that the Democratic memo is its own “dirty dossier.” Other than Nunes’ apparent fascination with alliteration, Nunes response shows his unending ability to double down on a lie.
Nunes is left screaming that the FISA application did not identify Steele and the other people in the memo by name. Which … isn’t there a name for that?
What is more, the Democrats retort, it is a bit rich for Republicans to grumble that the names of Americans were not revealed to the intelligence oversight court. Not that long ago, Mr Nunes, a vocal Trump ally, made the alleged “unmasking” of Americans by Democrats and the intelligence community Exhibit A for his theory that the late Obama administration was a lawless dystopia, in which agents of a deep state schemed against Mr Trump.
Now Nunes is left saying that the problem with the FISA application was that it didn’t unmask people who were not the subject of the investigation.
But expecting consistency from Devin Nunes is clearly something that would be as irrational … as Devin Nunes.