The Nunes Memo

Yesterday, President Trump authorized the public release of the “Nunes Memo,” a 3½ page document prepared by the chair of the House Intelligence Committee summarizing actions related to the investigation into possible collusion between the Trump campaign and Russian operatives seeking to influence the 2016 presidential election.

Here are my random thoughts.

The memo alleges:

  1. Members of the FBI and DOJ sought a wiretap warrant from a FISA Court against an American citizen (Carter Page) based on a dossier produced by Christopher Steele.
  2. Steele’s work, undertaken by a group called Fusion GPS, was paid for by the Clinton campaign and DNC, so that it was essentially political “opposition research”;
  3. As “corroboration” for obtaining the warrant, those officials used a Yahoo!News story, which had been based on an interview of Steele himself, so that he was essentially his own corroborating witness;
  4. The FISA court was never told that the “info” originated as political opposition research and would not have issued the warrant had that fact been disclosed.

My first thought … IF those things are true (and I mean IF, because we do not know that currently), those DOJ and FBI officials should not only be terminated, they should be prosecuted.

In the course of this investigation into collusion with the Russians, I have heard many allusions to the Watergate scandal which brought down President Nixon.  I don’t think that is a valid comparison for these reasons:

  1. The Watergate break-in was orchestrated and paid for by the RNC. There was direct involvement by the Republican party, and it seems probable by Richard Nixon himself. Again, we don’t know all of the facts yet from Robert Mueller’s investigation, but a year into this investigation, I have seen absolutely nothing to indicate such high-level involvement. If there was collusion, it was from a low-level  advisor who was with the campaign for a short time.
  2. Richard Nixon was a political genius and mastermind behind the cover-up of Watergate. Despite Donald Trump’s claim to being a “stable genius,” I have seen no evidence whatsoever of that level of political savvy. That doesn’t mean I think the President is stupid, as presented in the media.  That’s simply media bias, and it’s nothing new.  President Reagan was a doddering old fool, George H. W. Bush was aloof and detached from reality, George W. Bush was an idiot despite his degrees from Harvard and Yale and his turnaround of the Texas Rangers, and now Donald Trump is a 70-year old adolescent. Meanwhile, Bill Clinton was a political wunderkind, Barack Obama was always the smartest man in the room, etc.  I get it.  But here’s the bottom line concerning President Trump: morons don’t build $4 Billion empires. What I’m saying is that I don’t think his business acumen translates into political genius.

If there is a Watergate comparison to be made, it seems to me to relate to the Clintons, who have built a political machine that now seems to have operatives even within the halls of government. How in the world does President Clinton meet privately with the Attorney General while his wife is under investigation by the DOJ?  How in the world does the team investigating Secretary Clinton’s use of a private server indicate that she was “grossly negligent” (which is the standard used for criminality) but FBI Director Jim Comey changes that language to say she was “extremely careless” (which has no legal consequence whatsoever)?  How does Secretary Clinton authorize the purchase of a 25% stake in US uranium to a state-run Russian firm, then Russia donates millions to The Clinton Foundation and pays Bill Clinton $500,000 for a single speech in Moscow? How is the Clinton Foundation a “charity” and not the Clintons’ personal Political Action Committee?  I think there are plenty of comparisons to be made to Watergate – just not to Donald Trump.

So I don’t think the Watergate comparisons hold.  But I do think back to that era in the 60’s and 70’s when the political climate was similar to that of today, and I remember a figure other than Richard Nixon.  I think of J. Edgar Hoover.  As head of the FBI, Hoover seized and maintained power by using the FBI to obtain dirt on virtually every political figure in the U.S. and then blackmailing those politicians to maintain his personal power, funding for the FBI, etc.  Hoover is known to have prevented John Kennedy from firing him by threatening Bobby Kennedy (the President’s brother AND Attorney General) with the release of info about JFK’s sexual misconduct. It was the textbook definition of political corruption … and it was centered in the FBI.  When I look at the current political crisis, this is the easiest comparison for me.

The response to the release of the Nunes Memo has also been typical. Democrats are screaming that it undermines public confidence in our government in general and in the FBI and DOJ in particular.  A few thoughts on this point:

  1. Distrust in government is one of the founding principles of our republic. Our founding fathers believed (rightly, I think) that, unless constrained, government accumulates more and more power until it devolves into the very tyranny which they were seeking to escape. Distrust of government is what led to building in the “checks and balances” of three branches of government.
  2. I referred earlier to a political climate in the 60’s and 70’s that seems similar to that of today. We survived that. We will survive this.
  3. In reality, it is not the release of the memo that increases my distrust of government, it is the substance of the memo. Was our FBI and Department of Justice truly weaponized against one presidential candidate? If so, none of us should sleep tonight. That has to be rooted out, exposed and repaired.  Immediately.  I tell my children that they can never earn my love, for they always have had it and always will.  But they must earn my trust, and once broken, it is hard to repair.  The same is true for my government.  I will always love my country.  But my government is not entitled to blind trust.  That they must earn.

One final word.  Dismiss me as a partisan supporter of Donald Trump if you wish.  That would be mistaken on both counts.  Firstly, I did not support candidate Trump.  I dislike both his personal demeanor and his governing style.  To lay all my cards on the table, I simply dislike him less than I dislike Hillary Clinton, who strikes me as the poster child of political corruption and crass opportunism.  But I do believe, as I have argued for Presidents Reagan through Obama, that we ought to be deferential to the President of the United States. Secondly, though I am a conservative, I am an independent conservative.  I tend to resonate more with the Republican party because they tend to be conservative and the Democrats seem to want to run off one of the cliffs on the left coast.  But with that said, I utterly despise party politics.  I detest what President Clinton deemed “the politics of personal destruction.” I have no great affinity for the Republican party, and no allegiance to it whatsoever.  My thoughts are not those of a partisan supporter of President Trump.  They are, I hope, the thoughts of a seeker of truth, a lover of the good, and an American who wants to hand off to my posterity a better country than I inherited.

gkr1996 posted at 2018-2-3 Category: Political