Friday, 02 February 2018 18:46

Did Nunes turn a Page on Mueller probe with House Intel memo?

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nunes pageSomeone is awfully touchy about what Carter Page might have said on wiretaps and intercepts made by the FBI and Washington is taking sides, as it does in all things pertaining to Donald Trump.  Among the various assertions, in the alternative, are that the revelations about the surveillance of Page jeopardize national security; show impermissible bias against Trump by the parties requesting the warrant; and, reflect an overreach of U.S. intelligence, the least likely scenario of all. Page has been targeted before.

 Everyone is wrong about their beliefs because the four-page memo that precipitated the hubbub, written by the staff of Rep. Devin Nunes, jeopardizes little but the reputation of Nunes, himself. There is nothing on the face of the document that would compromise national security, barring a rebuttal with more information which, truthfully, is not needed. The Nunes memo represents opinion, only, and is determinative of little more than the fact that Nunes is acting at the behest of a nervous Donald Trump.

Nunes’ motivations, presumably, are to provide justification for whatever purge Trump may feel is in order at the FMI, and DOJ, of those persons who believe the Russia matter deserves scrutiny. Nunes has been caught with his hand in the cookie jar before, when he ran to the president with information, leaked to him by the White House, that purported to show how bad the Russia investigation was, or some such nonsense. To anyone with any sense, Nunes should be treated with the same regard afforded Carter Page, that is as an unreliable narrator.

All judges must look beyond the pleadings in front of them to make a fair and impartial determination about whether, or not, the matters plead constitute probable cause for the issuance of a warrant. There is no assertion this wasn’t done. What Nunes presented in his memo, according to Democrats, was an incomplete picture of what was before the court. If, and when the application is released, or its sufficiency adjudicated, this would be known more fully. Before then it’s all conjecture, and premature.

What is so remarkable about the undue attention is that the proper procedure by which a warrant is attacked is by a motion to quash, once the warrant’s existence has been discovered, or a motion to suppress evidence if, and when, there’s an attempt to use any information gleaned by covert means. Should unrelated criminal acts by another be discovered while a target is being surveilled, then that can be suppressed by application of the fruits of the poisonous tree doctrine, a term loosely bandied about on news shows by commentators.

The real party at interest, here, is not the president, nor his campaign or transition team; it’s Carter Page. This is where it gets tricky for the White House which has sought to distanced itself from Page by downplaying his significance as an unpaid volunteer, in effect a political gadfly who attached himself to the campaign and transition. As such, anything Page may have said on tape would be unofficial and inconsequential. Even if Page was a high functionary, however, intercepts would not mean he was doing more than acting beyond the scope of his portfolio, bragging, or speaking unreliable gibberish, as he has been wont to do. Usual defenses apply.

 

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