Sunday, February 11, 2018
Democrats’ Memo Won’t Be Released, Yet
The following article appeared in Powerline on February 9th
By John Hinderaker
The Associated Press reported a few minutes ago: “Trump won’t declassify Democratic memo on Russia probe.” The article doesn’t live up to the headline.
Citing national security concerns, the White House on Friday formally notified the House intelligence committee that President Donald Trump is “unable” to declassify a memo drafted by Democrats that counters GOP allegations about abuse of government surveillance powers in the FBI’s Russia probe.
White House counsel Don McGahn said in a letter to the committee that the memo contains “numerous properly classified and especially sensitive passages” and asked the Democrats to revise the memo with the help of the Justice Department. He said Trump is still “inclined” to release the memo in the interest of transparency if revisions are made.
McGhan’s letter, which is entirely reasonable, is here. No doubt the Democrats’ memo will be released before long. What is most notable about the AP’s story is the pro-Democrat spin it applies to the facts.
The president’s rejection of the Democratic memo is in contrast to his enthusiastic embrace of releasing the Republican document, which he pledged before reading to make public. The president declassified the document last week, allowing its publication in full.
President Trump declassified the Republican memo after it was revised to meet security objections, as well as objections by the Democrats. The same process is being followed here, at least as far as national security is concerned.
The disagreements have escalated over the last year as Democrats have charged that Republicans aren’t taking the panel’s investigation into Russian election meddling seriously enough. They say the GOP memo, led by chairman Devin Nunes, R-Calif., is designed as a distraction from the probe, which is looking into whether Trump’s campaign was in any way connected to the Russian interference.
Actually, the “probe” was conceived as a distraction from what really happened, i.e., collusion between the Clinton campaign and the Russians, along with improper and potentially illegal efforts by senior Obama law enforcement officials to prevent Donald Trump from winning the election. That is how it looks now, anyway. But the AP is sticking to its story.
Trump declassified the GOP-authored memo over the objections of the FBI, which said it had “grave concerns” about the document’s accuracy.
The AP’s account is false. The FBI didn’t suggest that there was anything in the GOP memo that was inaccurate. Rather, it claimed that there were “omissions” from the memo that it would like to see filled in. Those are not doubts about the memo’s “accuracy.” In any event, the Democrats’ memo no doubt will incorporate whatever information Democratic Party officials at the FBI and DOJ want added to the record.
In the so-called Nunes memo, Republicans took aim at the FBI and the Justice Department over the use of information from former British spy Christopher Steele in obtaining a warrant to monitor Page under the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act, or FISA. The main allegation was that the FBI and Justice Department didn’t tell the court enough about Steele’s anti-Trump bias or that his work was funded in part by Hillary Clinton’s campaign and the Democratic National Committee.
Once again, the AP’s account is spun to help the Democrats. In fact, the FBI didn’t tell the FISA court anything about Steele’s obsessive determination to block Donald Trump from becoming president, nor did the FBI tell the court that Steele’s “research” was funded entirely–not “in part”–by the Clinton campaign and the DNC. In fact, the Obama administration told the FISA court nothing at all about the fact that the Steele “dossier” was entirely the creation of the Democratic Party.
They noted that federal law enforcement officials had informed the court about the political origins of Steele’s work and that some of the former spy’s information was corroborated by the FBI. They also noted that there was other evidence presented to the court besides Steele’s information, though they have not provided details.
This, based on what has been reported, is simply wrong. None of Steele’s information was corroborated by the FBI, unless you count an article in Yahoo News, which was also based on Steele’s fabrications, as “corroboration.” Nor was there any “other evidence” presented in support of the FISA warrant application, other than general boilerplate about the Russians.
We could go on, but you get the drift. The Associated Press is doing what it can to help the Democratic Party, but its position is pretty hopeless. We will see, when the Democratic memo is made public, whether it adds anything to our knowledge of Obama administration misdeeds.