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A More Nuanced Look at the Nunes Memo

On Behalf of | Feb 5, 2018 | Criminal Law |

The FISA court — a court of rotating federal judges that issues warrants on intelligence suspects– authorized a secret wiretap on a US citizen suspected of close ties with Russian agents, Carter Page. That the Intelligence Committee of the House of Republicans investigated this process is normal and healthy.  That it made public, with Presidential permission, its findings, should not automatically be seen as a rotten political trick or assumed to be dangerous.

To give the public more information is usually a good idea.  We should all be concerned about  search warrants of presidential campaigns, especially when issued to investigate the campaign of the opposite political party from the sitting President.  That the FBI objects, when it is made to look bad, should come as no surprise and should not automatically make citizens, even those who happen to distrust President Trump, automatically opposed to disclosure.

The Nunes memo is short and easy to read.  I am glad to know what it says.

What is troubling is that the same House committee voted to prevent the Democratic Committee members’ minority report from getting declassified.  That is unusual and disturbing. And that act makes one wonder if the true intent is political.

And if so, then that is scary.

The reason is because the Deputy Attorney General who oversees the Mueller investigation, Rod Rosenstein, a career prosecutor, is made to look bad in the Nunes report.  If Chairman Nunes’ intent is to publicly discredit the Deputy Attorney General, in order to allow the President to replace him with someone more pliable and less principled, then that has consequences.  Rosenstein supervises the Mueller investigation.  The new deputy attorney general could dramatically reduce the ability of the Mueller investigation to get resources, bring charges, and uncover wrongdoing.   In short, Mueller could keep his job and be neutered.

If Nunes is protecting the President and his friends from having their dirty linen aired, then this act of public disclosure will actually result in more secrecy.  Since Mueller is investigating Russian efforts to  undermine our election, that would be very bad for us all.

Read The Nunes Memo, Annotated – Annotations by Charles Savage, Feb 2, 2018.

Ref: NY Times, Politics article, Feb 2, 2018.