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The Memo

Rich Galen

Monday February 5, 2017

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  • The Memo - THAT Memo - was made public over the weekend and, as you and I could have predicted when the whole Memo thing became a matter of public comment, how it was received depended on whether you are pro- or anti- Donald J. Trump.

  • Donald J. Trump (whose position on Donald J. Trump is not in question) immediately proclaimed in a Saturday morning Tweet:
    "This memo totally vindicates "Trump" in probe. But the Russian Witch Hunt goes on and on. Their was no Collusion and there was no Obstruction (the word now used because, after one year of looking endlessly and finding NOTHING, collusion is dead). This is an American disgrace!"

  • The memo does nothing of the sort, but Trump would have Tweeted that even if the Republican-prepared Memo had said, in total,
    "Trump is guilty.
    "The End"

  • Which, of course it did not.

  • If you haven't read it, you should, just so you know what everyone in Washington, DC - and almost nowhere else - has been so focused on.

  • The main point has to do with gaining a warrant from what is known as the FISA Court to put a wiretap on an American citizen, in this case a man named Carter Page. FISA stands for Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act.

  • OK. Pay attention. Page comes up as part of that salacious dossier prepared by a former British Spy, Christopher Steele, (who was also in the pay of a law firm, the DNC, the Clinton campaign, the FBI, and an oppo group named Fusion GPS.

  • The memo maintains that the FBI used materials from Steele's (slanted and tainted) dossier to get the warrant to wiretap Carter Page - a warrant that was renewed for two additional 90-day periods. " The memo states (the bolded material is in the memo) that:
    [Steele] "was desperate that Donald Trump not get elected and was passionate about him not being President."

  • That was a sentiment shared by at least some of the 74,900,936 Americans who voted for a candidate other than Donald Trump in the election of 2016, but none of them was apparently used as a source for the FISA Court to grant a subpoena to listen in on Carter Page's conversations.

  • My reading - a non-lawyer's and non-Trump defender's - is that the Justice Department has got some heavy 'splainin' to do in terms of what it thinks is legit for the families of senior officers to engage in.

  • In one case, the wife of soon-to-be-former Deputy FBI Director Andrew McCabe ran, as a Democrat, for a seat in the Virginia State Senate in 2015. She lost but received something on the order of $500,000 from Democratic sources including a Political Action Committee connected to the then-Governor Terry McAuliffe.

  • McAuliffe is, of course, the long-time fundraiser, pal, guarantor-of-mortgages for the Clintons and was a former head of the Democratic National Committee.

  • Does that mean McCabe is guilty of throwing the game in favor of the FISA warrant? No, but it certainly leaves the FBI open to that suggestion.

  • Further, there was an Associate Deputy Attorney General (not, therefore, in the FBI) named Bruce Ohr whose wife worked for the aforementioned Fusion GPS to, according to the memo "assist on the cultivation of opposition research on Trump."

  • Does Mrs. Ohr's work for Fusion GPS mean that the Associate Deputy Attorney General had his thumb on the scales of justice regarding the approval of FISA warrants? Again, No, but it certainly leaves the DoJ open to that suggestion.

  • There are many examples of spouses of Federal employees being prohibited, or at least being discouraged, from certain outside activities that a reasonable person might see as being a conflict.

  • In fact the Hatch Act (named, in 1939, for Senator Carl Hatch of New Mexico not Sen. Orrin Hatch of Utah) specifically forbids most people employed by the Federal government from engaging in certain partisan political activities.

  • There have also been well-documented examples of journalists having been punished for donating (and not disclosing) to candidates for public office or politically affiliated organizations: Keith Olbermann and Joe Scarborough were suspended for brief periods. George Stephanopoulos had to issue a public apology for an undisclosed donation to the Clinton Foundation.

  • All that aside, I still don't understand why the GOP was so eager to step on Trumps (very positive) State of the Union messages with this memo.

  • A friend on Capitol Hill agreed, writing:
    "It was over hyped. It neither impugns the Mueller probe nor vindicates the Trump campaign. The whole exercise muddies the water without solving or clarifying anything. Moreover, it takes the GOP off its winning message of tax cuts, jobs and growth."

  • The Democrats' version of these same facts will likely be released this week, and cable news hosts will have another five days of ready-made discussion topics.

  • Meanwhile Special Counsel Robert Mueller's team appears to be continuing to do its work, so stay tuned.

  • On the Secret Decoder Ring page today: Links to the text of the Memo, to an explainer by Time Magazine as to just who Carter Page is, and to the Wikipedia entry for the Hatch Act.

    The Mullfoto is a screenshot of a major, major award.

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