The gravamen of Trump’s and Nunes’s argument has been two-fold: First, they claim that the only reason the Court approved the warrant (four times), is because of the presence of the Steele dossier. Second, they argue that neither the DOJ nor the FBI adequately informed the FISA court that the Clinton campaign and the DNC paid for the Steele Dossier.
After reviewing the FISA application in relevant parts and after considering the arguments, for and against, it appears obvious that Trump and company are the ones who are deceiving the American people and are ignoring the facts. Let’s review:
THE DOSSIER PLAYED A MAJOR ROLE IN THE APPLICATION AND BUT FOR THE DOSSIER, THE COURT WOULD HAVE DENIED THE APPLICATION
The Court has the last say
The claim that a network of FBI and DOJ connived the four Judges into granting the warrant fits nicely into Trump’s broader hysteria that the Deep State wants to bury him.
Unfortunately, what is missing from this hysteria are--the facts. Those facts are simple: Ultimately, the court had the greater burden to discover what it might need to know and to determine if the intel leaders disclosed what they actually knew.
Even assuming the worst, that the feds misled the Court and that the so-called “anti-Trump cabal” depended upon the “unconfirmed” dossier to obtain the warrant, ultimately, the onus fell upon the Judges. They are charged with the obligation to read these applications and to ask questions, should those questions exist.
The government felt that Carter Page was a risk to this nation and that it needed to ask for the extraordinary power to surveil him and then to continue the surveillance, which they did three more times with additional documentation, each time.
The chance that four Judges at different intervals ignored the documentation in the applications is patently absurd. All the four republican-appointed judges needed to do would be to ask intel simple questions—do you have independent information other than the allegations in the dossier that I should approve this application? Or how about—you claim the dossier was paid for by someone opposed to Candidate #1, do you specifically know who paid for the dossier? The Judges who approved the FISA app are not green around the collar. They have been on the bench for a while, even one as far back as the Reagan administration. For Trump and Nunes to claim that these Judges were duped is an extraordinary charge being made, not just against the intel but the judiciary. The facts are obvious. Apparently, the four republican-appointed judges were satisfied with the information provided to them.
And, why would they not be satisfied? The FISA is heavily redacted. The redactions are not the Dossier but additional facts they included in the document that support their reasons to surveil. These alleged facts include highly sensitive information, thus, the redactions. To make the claim that but for the dossier, there would have been no surveillance of Carter Page, is simply ludicrous logic. One can speculate what the redactions are but they surely are not restatements of the dossier. Simple logic is needed to conclude that the feds provided and the court approved the claims made based upon the information presented.
THE FBI AND DOJ DECEIVED THE COURT BY NOT DISCLOSING THE PAYORS OR BY NOT PROVIDING SPECIFIC IDENTIFYING INFORMATION
This issue arises only if the Steele Dossier plays a predominant role in the Court’s FISA allowance. If the Court felt there was adequate information that rose to the level of probable cause, then any misrepresentations or lack of full disclosures about the source of the dossier payment, would really be irrelevant.
So, let’s assume that the Dossier played a major role and that the four judges would not have approved the FISA document had the Christopher Steele dossier not been included. Here is what Nunes and Trump, ET. Al. are claiming:
The Feds deceived the Court about a critical fact underlying the credibility of the application
Along this line, Nunes, the GOP House Intel and others are fomenting that the FBI and the DOJ knew that the DNC and Clinton paid for the dossier and failed to disclose this important fact. Their claim continues that if the Court knew that it was the Clinton and DNC who were involved, the Court would have denied the warrant request. Their sub-theory is that the FISA authors were at best, coy and at worst, misleading in their information presented to the judges.
So, let’s look at his argument in Devin Nunes’s memorandum he submitted to the American people earlier this year which have been:
"Neither the initial application in October 2016, nor any of the renewals, disclose or reference the role of the DNC, Clinton campaign, or any party/campaign in funding Steele's efforts, even though the political origins of the Steele dossier were then known to senior DOJ and FBI officials."
The Democrats and others have controverted this claim. In short, they submit that the federal government disclosed sufficient information to the Court needed to approve the request. They point to the specifics stated in the FISA app:
“U.S.-based law firm had hired the identified U.S. person to conduct research regarding Candidate #l's ties to Russia (the identified U.S. person and Source #1 have a long-standing business relationship). The identified U.S. person hired Source #1 to conduct this research. The identified U.S. person never advised Source #1 as to the motivation behind the research into Candidate #l's ties to Russia. The FBI speculates that the identified U.S. person was likely looking for information that could be used to discredit Candidate #l’s campaign.
Is the identifying information in the FISA app sufficient for the Court approval?
Obviously, the Nunes gang claims that since the FBI and DOJ knew that the Democrats and the Hillary campaign paid for the dossier, they should have named names. However, anybody reading the document understands the process used in the FISA court and should know that the statements made were adequate, thus, approved by the judges themselves.
As many observers have stated, the names of the individuals described in the application are not disclosed, but masked. In the application, Donald Trump is named Candidate #1. Steel is called “Source 1”. The owner of Fusion GPS, Simpson, is named ”Identified US Person”.
Using Nunes’s logic, the FBI and DOJ were misleading the Court by their not using actual names such Donald Trump, Christopher Steele and Fusion GPS or, its owner, Simpson. Right? Why hasn’t Nunes and Trump complained about the lack of full disclosure for those identities?
The answer, again, is simple. As Adam Schiff, the leading Democrat in the House Intel committee has stated and as authorities who have prepared these documents have confirmed, That is not the practice. Moreover, the DOJ and FBI followed the normal procedures. Therefore, Nunes claiming intentional misleading is itself a striking deception, on its face. And, unfortunately, the deception continues, here’s why:
Nunes and supporters are the ones misleading America about the payor information disclosed in the FISA app.
Look at what the application in relevant part, actually stated:
“The identified U.S. person never advised Source #1 as to the motivation behind the research into Candidate #l's ties to Russia. The FBI speculates that the identified U.S. person was likely looking for information that could be used to discredit Candidate #l’s campaign.”
Despite Nunes assertions, based upon facts that Nunes must indeed know, the FISA app authors told the court what they actually knew and in the masked language that is used. In simple plain English and easy deciphering the FISA language, the application states that Simpson did not tell Steele the motivation behind the research, therefore, Steele did not know who paid for his research.
But, the evidence goes deeper. Look at what the application further states in the same pertinent paragraph:
“The FBI speculates that the identified U.S. person was likely looking for information that could be used to discredit Candidate #l’s campaign.”
Whoa!! Based upon the application and other facts outlined below, guess who also didn’t know who paid for the controversial dossier? How about the FBI and the DOJ? The application states, the “FBI speculates that the identified U.S. person was likely looking for information that could be used to discredit Candidate #l’s campaign”.
Which means at the time the FBI application was presented to the court (and apparently renewed), the DOJ affirmatively stated that FBI speculate who was paying for the dossier, meaning they did not know.
Surely, when the DOJ filed the applications and renewals, they had no reason to believe this would be under such political scrutiny.
Thus, it appears that, the only parties who knew who paid for the dossier were Simpson (“the identified US person”) and of course, the law firm for Clinton campaign and the DNC.
So, why did the FBI and DOJ not know who paid Simpson and who paid Steele? The answer is found in a Washington Post article, which I discussed earlier this year. Simpson could not and necessarily did not disclose the payments sources to the FBI, to the DOJ at the time the FISA applications were made. And, guess who should have known this fact or did know it at the time that the Nunes memo was presented to the public? Read on.
On October 25, the Washington Post broke the story, "Clinton campaign, DNC paid for research that led to Russia Dossier". According to the Post, the source of the payment information was revealed as a result of a lawsuit filed by Congress
BOLD"Some of the details are included in a Tuesday letter sent by Perkins Coie to a lawyer representing Fusion GPS, telling the research firm that it was released from a ¬client-confidentiality obligation. The letter was prompted by a legal fight over a subpoena for Fusion GPS's bank records."….
Congressional Republicans have tried to force Fusion GPS to identify the Democrat or group behind Steele's work, but the firm has said that it will not do so, citing confidentiality agreements with its clients.
Last week, Fusion GPS executives invoked their constitutional right not to answer questions from the House Intelligence Committee. The firm's founder, Glenn Simpson, had previously given a 10-hour interview to the Senate Judiciary Committee.
Over objections from Democrats, the Republican leader of the House Intelligence Committee, Rep. Devin Nunes (Calif.), subpoenaed Fusion GPS's bank records to try to identify the mystery client.
Fusion GPS has been fighting the release of its bank records. A judge on Tuesday extended a deadline for Fusion GPS's bank to respond to the subpoena until Friday while the company attempts to negotiate a resolution with Nunes. END BOLD
Simpson did not disclose to the FBI the source of the payments for the Steele research and dossier because he was under the legal confines of a confidentiality agreement. He was only willing to disclose this information after Nunes demanded it and only after the attorney representing the DNC and the Clinton campaign released Fusion GPS from it. Only then did Simpson disclose the information.
So, who knew or should have known why the DOJ did not disclose the information? No other than Devin Nunes, the night rider for Trump. Only after he was successful in getting this information through subpoena, did Simpson release this information to the public. So, ask yourself--how could Nunes not have known this since he was responsible for the information release which occurred only a few months before he then accused the FBI, the DOJ and the House Democrats of deceiving and lying?
The evidence is very clear. If there is a witch hunt on the issue of the dossier, it is led by Devin Nunes and his political benefactor, President Donald Trump. Nunes, Trump and the conspiracy theorists at Fox News have represented a horrible fraud upon the American people, which Trump has promoted at every opportunity.
The American people deserve to taste the truth. Up until now, the Trump barrage has allowed the deceptions to boil over.
Here are three links which articulate the reasons that application was not misrepresented by the federal government and the reasons the warrant definitely should have been granted, as it was, based upon probable cause. I highly recommend you read them.