For Immediate Release | February 6, 2018
The Nunes Memo’s worst offense was to baselessly accuse many experienced officials, as well as institutions core to American democracy, of incompetence or political hackery. It focuses blame on six senior officials at the Justice Department and the FBI, including ones appointed by Donald Trump himself, plus the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court and as many as four respected federal judges on its bench.
The officials attacked by name are:
- Former FBI Director James Comey: a registered Republican who was first appointed by President George W. Bush as U.S. Attorney, and then as Deputy U.S. Attorney General, the Department’s second-in-command. As FBI Director, his most famous act was his investigation of Democrat Hillary Clinton over her e-mail usage.
- Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein: 27 years in the Justice Department, including working for Independent Counsel Ken Starr’s investigation of Bill Clinton; picked by President Bush to manage tax prosecutions, then U.S. Attorney, then appointed as Federal Appeals Judge, but blocked by Democratic senators; finally, appointed by Trump to be second-in-command of the Justice Department.
- Former FBI Acting Director Andrew McCabe: 22-year FBI career professional, under presidents of both parties, rising to Deputy, and Acting Director under Trump.
- Former Acting Attorney General Sally Yates: 28 years with the Justice Department, starting with appointment by U.S. Attorney Bob Barr, a former ultra-conservative Congressman and later U.S. Attorney General under George W. Bush, rising to the level of Deputy U.S. Attorney General, confirmed by overwhelming bipartisan majority of the U.S. Senate, and then Acting Attorney General under Trump.
- Former Acting Attorney General Dana Boente: 34 years in the Justice Department, including being picked by Trump to be Acting Deputy Attorney General and Acting Attorney General.
- Former Associate Deputy Attorney General Bruce Ohr: 27 years in the Justice Department, starting as a federal prosecutor under President George H. W. Bush, and appointed chief of the Organized Crime and Racketeering Section under the second President Bush.
Yet the Nunes Memo suggests that all these officials plotted for political reasons to conceal evidence and hurt Trump. That’s a dangerous suggestion.
Also blamed is the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court, for somehow being bamboozled by these six high-ranking and long-serving Justice Department officials, and the many career agents and attorneys working for them, into issuing baseless, politically motivated surveillance warrants against admitted Russophile Carter Page and confessed felon and liar George Papadopolous.
The warrants are powerful – allowing surveillance of American citizens – but the safeguards are accordingly strenuous. Government attorneys must submit detailed proof to a federal judge, showing probable cause that the suspect is a foreign agent. The warrant is only good for three months, and then must be renewed based on new evidence, before a new, randomly selected judge, so that as many as four different judges would have reviewed and approved the four consecutive warrants against Carter Page. Of the 11 judges on the court, eight were selected by Republican presidents, from Ronald Reagan through George W. Bush.
The Nunes Memo’s underlying complaint about the infamous Trump dossier is preposterous. The dossier was initiated by Republicans, not Democrats. It is demonstrably not the starting point and sole core of the Mueller investigation. Without seeing the underlying FISA warrant application, there is no basis for concluding that prosecutors lied about its origin or purpose.
Contrary to what Rep. Brian Fitzpatrick says* (see below), the Nunes Memo, released by Ryan and Trump – and praised by Fitzpatrick as “a step in the right direction” – is not merely about “a few bad actors.” It attacks the integrity of dedicated justice professionals with hundreds of years of combined service, as well as the institutions they work for, and with – the entire Justice Department, FBI and the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court – Institutions core to democracy and the rule of law in the United States.
This is the height of irresponsibility and hypocrisy. One would have expected Fitzpatrick – who loves to characterize himself as “independent” and “the only former FBI Special Agent serving in Congress” – to be more respectful of the FBI and DOJ, their experienced career-professional personnel, and the rule of law. These are America’s proudest and long-standing bulwarks against threats to our national security.
Fitzpatrick knows better. Shame on him and Paul Ryan, for badmouthing these vital American institutions, in a lame political effort to “totally vindicate” Trump (in Trump’s own words).
We need leaders who put Americans first, not politics.
*BRIAN FITZPATRICK STATEMENT IN FULL
“The American people deserve honesty and transparency from their government at all times. Today’s release of the HPSCI’s majority memo is a step in that direction. I also believe the minority memo, which was made available to Members of Congress, should be similarly vetted and released. As I’ve said: this majority memo raises more questions than answers. As the only former FBI Special Agent serving in Congress, I am an eyewitness the fact that the women and men of the FBI are some of the finest law enforcement professionals in the world. We must not judge an entire institution due to the actions of a few bad actors. The correct solution is to expose those bad actors, identify them by name, make public their bad conduct, and deal with them appropriately. I urge all of my colleagues on both sides to recognize that a critical element to a successful investigation is public confidence in the integrity of that investigation. Let the facts be revealed in a manner that is consistent with our national security interests, and let all viewpoints of those facts be heard. End the politics; stick to the facts and to the truth. Then, let the American people be the judge.”