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The Shearing of Hair Trompf (24a)

February 3, 2018

The “Nunes Memorandum” – Sham in a Scam

A moment packed with conflict, confrontation, and crisis is good for a plot line, but not good for the psychological state of the American people, or for the health and safety of our democracy.

On Friday, Feb 2, Greg Sargent set the darkening scene:

Today the memo from House Intelligence Committee Chairman Devin Nunes (R-Calif.) will be released, and it seems reasonably obvious that President Trump will be gauging the public and media reaction to the memo’s contents to decide his next steps. Will Trump feel that the memo gives him pretext for dramatic action to constrain special counsel Robert S. Mueller III’s probe, as has been widely reported to be his intention?

Or will it be a total “dud” in its details, as some White House advisers believe, which might lead him to refrain? The very fact that this framing, by all indications, is the one by which Trump will decide the memo’s significance is worrisome enough on its own.

And then the situation got worse (espec in context of the early moves by aspiring autocrats, such as: neutralizing, and reducing public confidence in institutional checks and balances; politicizing law enforcement; being enabled by irresponsible political leaders).

Now let’s be clear on what this thing is. It’s a “memorandum” because a Congressman wrote it, allegedly to inform (actually to lay out strategy talking points) fellow Rs. He graced his distorted tale with a classy-sounding term, thereby forcing everyone to dignify it when they refer to it. Everybody has to go along with the scam. It’s a trap. It was a “secret memo” because the Rs kept it secret, so as to gin up outraged pressure to “release” it. They called it “classified” because it includes material from other docs that have been classified because public knowledge of them might compromise elements of national security. Rs made a big deal of pumping for its “release”—for setting it free, supposedly thereby freeing the American people from elitist secrecy—as if Dems and elites were keeping secrets for partisan reasons, and it would expose their attempted coup against the president. The whole thing is a scam on the part of Nunes, who is a major T protector, and then the Rs generally, and T himself. As stated by Nunes in his “cover letter”: “To be clear, the memorandum reflects the judgments of its [Republican] authors.”

And: “The constitution vests the President with authority to protect national security secrets from disclosure. . . .it is the president’s responsibility to classify, declassify, and control access to information bearing on our intelligence sources and methods and national defense.”

[Update 2-5:  Turns out N wrote the memo with White House collaboration, probably specifically (Marshall at TPM) Michael Ellis, who helped N with the fraudulent Flynn “unmasking” scandal, that got N investigated by the House ethics committee.]

President* Trompf decided that the doc should be made public, before he read it (and it’s short). And on Friday (2-1) Nunes told Bret Baier of Fox News that he, himself, had not read the material on which his memo was based.

The immediate goals of the Nunes scam are to distract from the investigation of T and the Russians, and to replace Rosenstein and Wray (both of whom, along with Mueller, are Republicans, btw) with T operatives. The broader goal is to feed the sick imaginations of the T true-believers, to keep them riled up (well, so much for the historical social philosophy of conservatism).

Hours before the expected freeing of the doc, Trompf tweets one of his best examples of propaganda and of charging Dems with what Rs are doing (OMG I’m going to print one of his tweets, but no doubt this novel must include an example, and this is a good one):

“The top Leadership and Investigators of the FBI and the Justice Department have politicized the sacred investigative process in favor of Democrats and against Republicans – something which would have been unthinkable just a short time ago. Rank & File are great people!”

(And here’s T’s crazy-dangerous propaganda twitting account, if you must know; the narrator bares no responsibility for lost minds.)

Crazy like a fox, I admit (but crazy still). Wording like that shows that, as a propagandist and manipulative liar, he knows exactly what he is doing. (And the T-R base is now the % of voters who desperately want to believe such bs.)

Shortly before the doc is freed, a statement by the FBI expresses “grave concerns” about the impending release:

The FBI takes seriously its obligations to the FISA Court and its compliance with procedures overseen by career professionals in the Department of Justice and the FBI. We are committed to working with the appropriate oversight entities to ensure the continuing integrity of the FISA process.

With regard to the House Intelligence Committee’s memorandum, the FBI was provided a limited opportunity to review this memo the day before the committee voted to release it. As expressed during our initial review, we have grave concerns about material omissions of fact that fundamentally impact the memo’s accuracy.  [My bold]

David Kris, a Dem national security advisor, presented three dangers posed by freeing this doc:

The impending release of the so-called Nunes memo is alarming for three reasons. First, the apparent argument contained in the memo — that a member of the Trump campaign was improperly targeted for surveillance — betrays a fundamental misunderstanding of the applicable law and standards for obtaining a warrant under the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act. Second, the release of the Nunes memo puts the FBI in an excruciatingly unfair position: The bureau cannot effectively defend itself against allegations of shoddy workmanship without betraying confidential sources and methods. Third, and most disturbing, the release of the memo, over the vehement objections of the FBI and Justice Department, threatens to disrupt the trust necessary for effective congressional oversight of the intelligence community. [My bold]

Amber Phillips (WaPo): “Basically, everyone in Washington except the president and congressional Republicans don’t want the memo released because they say it’s politically biased, inaccurate, will expose [FBI] sourcing methods, or all three.”

And it’s free! Here’s the text of the cover letter and memorandum.  And here it is with WaPo annotation.  Here’s a WaPo graphic of who’s who in the memo, plus some of the missing info.

Mark Sumner sums the contents (Dkos): As the memo emerges into public, America is going to find out that: The Hillary Clinton campaign took over payments to Fusion GPS which had been initially hired by Republicans, Fusion GPS hired Christopher Steele to look into Donald Trump’s ties to Russia, Steele found concerning information about Trump adviser Carter Page and took it to the FBI, the FBI added Steele’s information to an already thick file about a man who had been under investigation since 2013, and a FISA judge saw more than sufficient cause to renew surveillance of Page. Not one step of which represents a crime, malfeasance, or even a minor procedural error.

That’s it, folks. Now, in the near term, we watch the fate of Rosenstein and Wray. People throughout the country are preparing to resist, if T removes Rosenstein (which would lead to removing Mueller, or a strangling of the finances and/or scope of the investigation). In the longer term we watch to see the fate of our democracy, if the autocrat and his fascist party terminate the independence of the law enforcement agency of the Executive branch.

The Nunes doc is an example of narrative invention by a sick imagination that twists nonfiction into fiction, in the service of a falsification of reality. It is part of a larger political plot—but not a conspiracy, as no attempt is made, because there is no need, to keep the plot itself a secret. The point is to make it public, and thereby dare the public to do something about it, in the service of truth.

I hope that the present page of narration of this episode of the novel is an example of openly biased nonfiction in the novelistic service of objective reality, which is much like a novel and is healthfully seen as such, if seen by a healthy imagination. The reader can judge whether the narrator’s imagination is healthy.

Oh, and meanwhile, three Russian heads of intelligence (one under sanction) came a-courtin’ to the White House (Marcy Wheeler reportage).

[Pages 24b and 24c add responses to the sham and the scam, plus succeeding political actions.]

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