The Democrats on the House Intelligence Committee promised that they would release their own memo in response to the one Devin Nunes published a month ago, and they said it would prove to America that there was no “FISA abuse” on the part of the FBI.
This weekend the Democrats, led by ranking member Adam Schiff, finally made good on that promise…but the resulting memo did not do what they claimed it would. In fact, it didn’t do much of anything to disprove the Republican version. It put a Democrat spin on the same information, but it did very little to change the information itself. It’s not difficult to make the argument, in fact, that when you take into consideration that this was the left’s “best shot” to refute the original memo, Schiff’s missive actually strengthened the Nunes document.
To verify this, let’s consider the most damning claim made in the Nunes memo: That the FBI failed to explain to the FISA court that the Christopher Steele dossier, central to the case for surveillance, was a piece of political propaganda bought and paid for by Hillary Clinton and the DNC. One would have thought that if the Democrat memo was going to do anything at all, it would have refuted that basic allegation. Because if it didn’t, what was the point of this charade?
Well, it didn’t.
From the Nunes memo: “Neither the initial application in October 2016, nor any of the renewals, disclose or reference the role of the DNC, Clinton campaign, or any party/campaign in funding Steele’s efforts.”
The gravity of the claim is self-explanatory.
If this dossier, which made allegations about Carter Page that made it sound as though he was acting as a spy for the Russians, was nothing more than “opposition research” paid for by Trump’s political opponents…well, that would have been valuable information to have, no? The mere fact that it was opposition research does not, in itself, invalidate the claims made in the dossier, but it certainly casts those claims in a different light. It would seem to require that the government provide some corroborating evidence to show that Steele was telling the truth, yes? Otherwise, any candidate could have the government spy on their political opponents merely by writing up fictional accusations and passing them on to the FBI. Surely we have a higher standard for something as serious as using a foreign surveillance warrant against an American citizen!
The Democrat memo says that the “DOJ was transparent with the court about Steele’s sourcing.” That may be true, but sourcing is not the same as funding. What did the DOJ have to say about that? They told the court that Glenn Simpson of Fusion GPS hired Steele and that he was paid by the law firm Perkins Coie. According to the Democrats, this represents the best effort of the government to reveal the true nature of the dossier’s provenance.
Nowhere in the application is found the name “Hillary Clinton” or the name “Democratic National Committee.”