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If You Think The Nunes Memo Will 'Discredit' FBI and DOJ, You Haven't Been Paying Attention For the Past 50 Years

Democrat Adam Schiff might be right that GOP operatives want to derail the Russia probe. But the FBI and Justice Department lost credibility a long time ago.

Nick GillespieNick GillespieAs Scott Shackford reports, the White House has cleared the release of a classified memo by House Intelligence Committee Chair Devin Nunes (R-Calif.) that purports to show that FBI agents and others at the Department of Justice (DOJ) acted out of political motives in surveilling Carter Page, a campaign adviser to then-candidate Donald Trump. Nunes' Democratic counterpart, Rep. Adam Schiff (D-Calif.) has called out Nunes in no uncertain terms:

"The selective release and politicization of classified information sets a terrible precedent and will do long-term damage to the Intelligence Community and our law enforcement agencies."

Well, sure.

But to the extent that Schiff is trying to suggest the FBI and DOJ aren't constantly acting out of political motives and basic incompetence that hurt their credibility, he's completely out to lunch. Both of these units of government have remarkably and well-deserved bad reputations stretching back decades.

And this is where the obsessive fixation of details in Washington completely blocks out the big picture. Remember how Republicans figured that by endlessly sifting sand for details about "Benghazi," they would finally end Hillary Clinton's career in the public eye? They were too far up their own asses to ever ask the obvious question: What the hell were we doing in Libya to begin with? Especially given Barack Obama's manifest lack on interest in getting even a rubber-stamp authorization from Congress? Even after the United States helped plunge Libya into a total clusterfuck, that larger-picture view was left to the crazy-eyed libertarians.

Similarly with "the memo," which deals with a relatively obscure and meaningless Trump hanger-on and, as Shackford notes in his article, fails to advance either side of the debate over whether the president was playing footsie with the Russians. The important issue here isn't the damage that Nunes' document (and eventually, Schiff's minority report that will be published after it is vetted for security reasons) does or doesn't do to the reputation of the FBI and federal law enforcement. It's that the reputation of these groups is already awful.

Schiff is claiming that Nunes is acting only out of political interest, a charge that mirrors what Nunes is saying about the FBI and the Department of Justice. They are both almost surely correct. But those of us who actually care about proper governance would do well to think back to, I don't know, a few months before the 2016 election, when then-director of the FBI James Comey, appointed by Barack Obama, laid out a devastating case against Candidate Clinton...before saying he wouldn't recommend bringing charges against her.

Recall the rhetorical cherry that Comey put on the top of that shit sundae:

To be clear, this is not to suggest that in similar circumstances, a person who engaged in this activity would face no consequences. To the contrary, those individuals are often subject to security or administrative sanctions. But that is not what we are deciding now.

NBC/WSJNBC/WSJSo regular Americans could get strung up, but not Hillary Clinton. This is not ancient history or a story about a black-bag job that J. Edgar Hoover ran. It's not even history. But we're not supposed to bring up the deservedly low opinions of the FBI and a Justice Department that have for decades done everything possible to make Americans suspect their employees aren't really trustworthy. The FBI in particular has a long history of abusing its power and the results of that show up in polls mostly showing a massive lack of confidence in it. To the right is a poll from 2016, which tracks with other measures of a broad-based decline in major U.S. institutions. Just one-third of Americans have strong confidence in the FBI, the same awful result that the CIA fetches. The federal government writ large does even worse, as does Congress.

A Harvard CAPS-Harris poll from late December found

Sixty-three percent of polled voters believe that the FBI has been resisting providing information to Congress on the Clinton and Trump investigations. This is a remarkable finding for an agency whose new head said a few days ago that the agency was in fine shape. No, it isn't.

Consider this gloss on Tim Weiner's damning 2012 of the FBI, Enemies:

Most presidents since Woodrow Wilson have been less intimidated by the F.B.I. than seduced by it. Under the rubric of protecting the nation, they secretly authorized the F.B.I. to open mail, infiltrate political parties, tap phones, perform "black bag" break-ins of homes and institutions, and draw up vast lists of Americans eligible for "custodial detention" during a crisis....

Botched confrontations with cults and right-wing radicals left a trail of blood from Whidbey Island to Ruby Ridge to the Branch Davidian compound in Waco. The bureau was penetrated again and again by double agents from Russia, China, Cuba, even Al Qaeda. (The Chinese spy Katrina Leung, truly a double agent, seduced both the special agent in charge of her case and "a leading F.B.I. counterintelligence expert on China.") F.B.I. turncoats like Robert Hanssen and Earl Pitts went undetected for years, costing "hundreds of millions of dollars" and the lives of a "dozen or more foreign agents who worked for the bureau and the C.I.A."

The best terror informant the bureau actually had was dropped for fear that he might be a double agent, while as late as 2002, only eight agents could speak Arabic. The F.B.I. remained a "pyramid of paper," mysteriously unable to create a decent computer system; by 2000, "the average American teenager had more computer power than most F.B.I. agents," according to Weiner, and agents "could not perform a Google search or send e-mails outside their offices."

This is the essential context for any discussion of "the memo" and investigations by the government into actors such as Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump. And the hits just keep coming. Investigative journalist Sharyl Attkisson, who broke the story of the DOJ's heinous "Fast and Furious" gun-walking operation, reports on new text messages between Peter Strzok and Lisa Page, two FBI officials whose political animus against Donald Trump has hurt the credibility of the Russia investigation.

Page: Have a meeting with turgal about getting iphone in a day or so

Strzok: Oh hot damn. . . We get around our security/monitoring issues?

Page: No, he's proposing that we just stop following them. Apparently the requirement to capture texts came from [Office of Management and Budget], but we're the only org (I'm told) who is following that rule. His point is, if no one else is doing it why should we. . . I'm told – thought I have seen – that there is an IG report that says everyone is failing. But one has changed anything, so why not just join in the failure.

Attkisson notes:

It's a shockingly cavalier attitude from an attorney and high level FBI official.

There are more text messages between Strzok and Page from a critical time period, as we now know, that the FBI claimed had been lost in a technical glitch. After that became public, the Inspector General said he was able to recover them. (Interesting that the FBI couldn't.)

Are Americans stupid for feeling like its government is not worthy of respect and confidence? No, of course not. The people in government, especially a string of mostly inept-at-best and power-mad-at worst FBI directors and attorneys general have brought us to a place where we don't trust them anymore. Especially in an age of forced transparency, squabbles between highly partisan members of Congress is a diversion from bigger and harder truths. Just like in the early to mid-1970s, when the Pentagon Papers, LBJ's constant lies about Vietnam, Nixon's illegal actions here and abroad, and revelations of COINTELPRO and massive abuses by the FBI, CIA, and NSA came to light, we need a new Church Commission and Rockefeller Commission if we're ever going to be able to believe in our government again.

There are extremely serious problems with low-trust societies, and it seems pretty clear that the United States is sliding toward less and less faith in both public and private institutions. That's bad news, because it usually ends with people calling for more intervention into every aspect of our lives by the very government we know is either crooked, incompetent, or both. If we keep talking about "the memo" and the larger Russia investigation only in partisan terms, the only thing we'll have to show for ourselves is even less trust and confidence.

Related: "Why Libertarians Should Want MORE Trust in Government"

More details here and here.

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  • Incomprehensible Bitching||

    So, you reject the FBI and embrace the Drumpkins?

    When did you learn to cuck so hard, Nick?

  • MatthewSlyfield||

    In what universe does one necessarily imply tho other?

  • Tony||

    This one.

    Unless he's bringing up the alleged incompetence and corruption of the FBI by sheer coincidence.

  • loveconstitution1789||

    FBI incompetence is implied.

  • damikesc||

    Tony is now sticking up for the competence and purity of the FBI.

    Just like Libertarians have ALWAYS done.

  • Tony||

    When the accusers are Trumpies, you bet I am. Credibility matters.

  • Red Rocks White Privilege||

    Credibility matters

    Meaning your endorsement is as good an indication as any that the FBI fucked up.

  • ||

    How did you get that from the article?

  • Barnstormer||

    Username checks out.

  • Devastator||

    Hardly, not everything is black and white. Both parties are shit lickers. Law enforcement shouldn't be politicized and it should be transparent. Neither of which has been happening for many decades.

  • Alan Vanneman||

    "To be clear, this is not to suggest that in similar circumstances, a person who engaged in this activity would face no consequences. To the contrary, those individuals are often subject to security or administrative sanctions. But that is not what we are deciding now."

    So regular Americans could get strung up, but not Hillary Clinton.

    Sorry, Nick. That's not what Comey said. He said that other persons might face "security or administrative sanctions" (or they might not) but they wouldn't go to jail, just like Hillary Clinton. And, as he implicitly noted, the FBI cannot recommend or apply "security or administrative sanctions" to a former secretary of state for actions committed while she was secretary of state. In fact, the FBI can't apply such sanctions for anyone who doesn't work for the FBI.

    Unimpressive.

  • Bubba Jones||

    There are many recent examples of people getting jail time for trivial breaches of security protocol. Taking docs home for work, taking pictures in the wrong place. All without any actual demonstration of a security breach.

    All of those people would certainly have their security clearances revoked and not be allowed to serve in positions far less sensitive than POTUS.

    Of course he chose his words carefully to provide implausible deniability. That's what politicians do.

  • XM||

    What's the point of the FBI's investigation into her emails, if they couldn't do anything with their findings? "She doesn't work here anymore, but if she was, then she might have faced sanctions like ordinary Americans"

    Once it was discovered that Clinton received classified info on her server, Comey could have made recommendation to the DOJ or otherwise collaborate with them. Some of Clinton's emails were found in the Weiner family computer. That's fairly close to leaking.

  • Vernon Depner||

    You put "Weiner" and "leaking" perilously close together.

  • MoreFreedom||

    "What's the point of the FBI's investigation into her emails, if they couldn't do anything with their findings?"

    Apparently it was to assume Americans, that Putin's hackers didn't get them and blackmail her and Obama (with whom she had 20 emails with him suspiciously using an alias, and about which he lied claiming he learned of her sever in news reports) into appeasement and flexibility. So she could run for President and be their boss, and reward them for their loyalty to her above the Constitution and the law, while she ran roughshod over the law. After all, Comey's original memo stated her server was likely hacked by foreign actors. Hillary entangled Obama into it, and so they had to cover it up, so Obama could stay in office and Hillary could get elected to ensure it stayed covered up.

  • MoreFreedom||

    I meant "assure" not "assume". An edit button would be appreciated, speaking as a contributor to Reason.

  • Hunthjof||

    Probably best summary. Also what about the Federal Records Act?

  • Sammi||

    "Unimpressive"

    Does anyone else think it's antiquated when people sign their posts?

  • Devastator||

    Not antiquated, just retarded.

  • Ecoli||

    The decision whether to prosecute belongs to DOJ, not the FBI. The FBI's job is to investigate and report to DOJ. Loretta knew what Comey was going to say when she made the public announcement, "we are going to let the FBI make the call". That is what Strsak was mocking in his "profiles in courage" text. Loretta let Comey do Loretta's job.

    Personally, it wouldn't bother me to see every leader in the FBI forced out and replaced.

    I think Mueller needs to finish his work, report on what he has found and close up shop. So far, the only potential crimes have been unrelated to Russia, or collusion, or anything he was impaneled to look into.

    Victor Davis Hanson, over at National Review, has written a pretty compelling time line of events, showing one coincidence after another in this shameful episode. It is clear the fix was in for Hillary. If the public had been foolish enough to elect her, none of this corruption would have seen light of day.

  • Don't look at me.||

    The release of "the memo" and the responses by our so called representatives in DC should showcase in your mind just how awful all those people are. Never vote for anyone to return to office.

  • Ken Shultz||

    Because no one seems to have held the FBI and the DoJ accountable for their past misdeeds is no reason to roll our eyes at calls for the FBI to be held accountable now. That Hillary Clinton is involved only makes it even worse--she always seems to get away with robbery in broad daylight.

    "In all, governments and corporations involved in the arms deals approved by Clinton's State Department have delivered between $54 million and $141 million to the Clinton Foundation as well as hundreds of thousands of dollars in payments to the Clinton family, according to foundation and State Department records."

    ----Mother Jones, 2015

    https://tinyurl.com/ycbgghtz

    I'm so sick of watching these corrupt scumbags being so unaccountable.

    The central issue in all this mess is accountability. There needs to be a special counsel to investigate the FBI, and everyone who perjured themselves, obstructed justice, violated the Hatch Act, or broke the law in any other way in this matter needs to be indicted and prosecuted.

    The rest of this is all peripheral. We can only hope that that it would lead to Hillary Clinton being thrown in prison, but it's more likely that everyone associated with her would end up behind bars--like has happened so many times before.

    In the meantime, if the Democrats are all but running for the midterms on a platform of impeaching Trump, then why shouldn't the Republicans politicize this?

  • Don't look at me.||

    "everyone associated with her would end up behind bars"
    You mean dead.

  • Ken Shultz||

    15 people were convicted of 40 crimes in Whitewater.

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/ Whitewater_controversy#Convictions

    Hillary Clinton was never even charged.

    She put the deal together.

  • Bubba Jones||

    BUT HILLARY TAKES NO SALARY FROM THE FOUNDATION!!!!111!!!

  • Hunthjof||

    Of course not least not on paper. However she and her family no doubt utilized clever gimmicks to get travel, resort stays, meals etc charged to the Foundation by simply saying that they were fundraising or some other clever scheme. One need not take a salary to benefit.

  • Tony||

    You are insane and so is the wombat-haired fuckstain you get all your thoughts from.

  • loveconstitution1789||

    Aw poor Tony, having a really really bad year since Hillary lost.

  • Diane Reynolds (Paul.)||

    *Why Libertarians should want *More* Trust in Government, not less*

    It's not that we don't want more trust in government, we don't want more trust in the government we currently have. So yes, we do sometimes smile inside when the current system has a chink (Racist!) in its armor.

    It's much easier to trust a small, manageable and accountable institution with clearly defined roles than it is a dangerous lumbering behemoth that's armed to the teeth and sits behind the largest mass-surveillance machine that humankind has ever known.

  • Ken Shultz||

    Part of me has always wanted to be wrong about politicians not being the solution to our problems. Wouldn't it be great if the American people could solve their political problems by voting for the right candidates? I'd love to believe that, and I hope for it even if I don't believe it will ever happen. I guess I'm just patriotic.

    In the meantime, I believe that corrupt bureaucrats should be thrown in jail when their crimes come to light. I don't think that makes me naive. Even a cynic could believe that.

  • BestUsedCarSales||

    I think it's more inherent. If you had a group of angels as legislators, all selfless and fair, it would still end poorly. It's simply a part of large government as is, in many ways it's inherently slow and suboptimal and lacking in the agility and information to really do most tasks.

    That can sometimes be a benefit. For instance, I don't believe that the criminal justice system should optimize just for speed, or cheapness or something like that. But in many aspects it just leads to poor management that would be better served by getting out of the way.

    Though that's somewhat besides the inherent ethical issues with government.

  • Devastator||

    We'd be a lot more trustworthy if we saw them representing the people and Constitution and "to protect and serve". That hasn't been happening for some time. Sure there are some good ones, but few of the people in the upper echelons have any intent on sticking to the original intent of the Constitution. Just some modern corrupt version of "the 4th amendment applies here except in these 10000 ways"

  • jhcampbe||

    Ok, so am I a dupe for expecting more out of the FISC? The FISC complicity whether willing or ignorant is what is really bothering me.

  • EscherEnigma||

    so am I a dupe for expecting more out of the FISC?


    Yes.

  • damikesc||

    Rare, but I agree with EE. To have any faith in the FISC is to ignore reality.

    Any court that approves over 90% of requests isn't a court. It's little more than a rubber stamp.

  • Hunthjof||

    Plus a court with no oversight really. If what the memo states is true then yes the FISC has to share the blame. Warrants issued in these cases should be very transparent and include the source of the information. The judges should be asking those questions. If they didn't then that is judicial incompetence. If they did and the DOJ/FBI lied then that is blatant corruption. It has become long overdue that Congress right here and now should order the FBI and DOJ to release all documentation involved in getting the warrants and these documents made public. Every single individual in the DOJ and FBI who so much as touched these documents should testify under oath in public. In addition the should call before Congress the Judge or Judges who signed the warrants should be called to testify though this can be closed door. Sadly the very same GOP that are complaining now just failed to reform the court.

  • Red Rocks White Privilege||

    Keep in mind, this is the same court system that declared it was perfectly legal for the NSA to listen in on every conversation that every American was having with someone on the phone. Then, after Congress actually passed a law clarifying that only data that was "relevant" to combatting terrorism could be collected, the court issued a post hoc ruling that "relevant" meant "all American phone metadata" to prevent regulation of the NSA.

    FISC is just as much a part of the problem as the FBI or CIA.

  • Devastator||

    I thought they had never turned down a search warrant since it was set up?

  • Ken Shultz||

    It's rare.

    They rejected the FBI's first warrant to wiretap Trump.

    The interesting thing, you guys remember when the media was telling us that Trump was a paranoid idiot for suggesting that the Obama administration had wiretapped his campaign?

    It wasn't that long ago.

  • Ken Shultz||

    "Lawyers from the National Security Division in the Department of Justice then drew up an application. They took it to the secret US court that deals with intelligence, the Fisa court, named after the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act. They wanted permission to intercept the electronic records from two Russian banks.

    Their first application, in June, was rejected outright by the judge. They returned with a more narrowly drawn order in July and were rejected again. Finally, before a new judge, the order was granted, on 15 October, three weeks before election day."

    ----BBC, January 12, 2017

    http://www.bbc.com/news/world-us-canada-38589427

  • Hunthjof||

    Sounds like they Judge shopped. Keep submitting it till you get a more friendly judge.

  • Brett Bellmore||

    The significance of this isn't that it's a unique event, inherently. The significance is that they went after a Presidential candidate who won, and is now in a position to exact vengeance.

    So the consequences in this case might be just a little bit more dire than some reassignments and early retirements.

  • Ken Shultz||

    Again, we shouldn't ignore the fact that this is an election year, and if the Democrats retake the House, they're going to impeach Trump for being Trump.

    The Democrats are all but campaigning on impeaching Trump. The political implications of showing that the Democrats were using the FBI to campaign against Trump in 2016 aren't exactly irrelevant.

  • Bubba Jones||

    But the Senate won't convict.

    How'd that work out for the GOP?

  • Ken Shultz||

    You need two-thirds of the Senate to convict.

    I'm not absolutely sure that Trump could survive that. Half the Republicans in the Senate might easily vote to remove him--especially if people like Rubio and Cruz are planning to replace him on the ticket come 2020.

    If he survived, the backlash against Democrats might be tremendous, but if there's an impeachment, it won't happen until the Democrats take control of the House, which they have an excellent chance of doing come November.

  • Deflator Mouse||

    Pretty sure the Dems prefer President Trump to President Pence. Trump is the only thing holding their base together at this point.

  • damikesc||

    Thing is...all of this rage is doing nothing for the Democrats.

    Their party is effectively insolvent.

    At a time where they should be rolling in money, they have about as much cash as they have debt.

  • Diane Reynolds (Paul.)||

  • BestUsedCarSales||

    That was pretty amazing.

  • Don't look at me.||

    Too funny.

  • Bubba Jones||

    That confirms my belief that those cameras are worthless. Dude is on camera knocking himself unconscious and yet is still at large? Obviously no one was alerted in a timely manner.

  • Diane Reynolds (Paul.)||

    If you can't catch a drunk homeless guy...

  • BestUsedCarSales||

    If they don't have a home how are the police supposed to call in a SWAT team to arrest/kill them?

  • chemjeff||

    See, this is why I don't really believe that the FBI is full of zealous partisan Democrats willing to risk their careers and commit multiple felonies in order to bring down Donald Trump. I think that they are just too incompetent for that level of deviousness. What I think really happened is that Steele offered them a dossier that was full of salacious gossip that was too good to ignore, and instead of trying to verify it, they just took it at face value and relied on Steele's formerly good reputation to pitch it to the FISA court.

  • BestUsedCarSales||

    The bigger concern should be the strong evidence that it is embarrassingly easy to get a FISA warrant in order to do classified surveillance of individuals.

  • Johnny B||

    And that since they needed new information at each renewal point, that the FBI kept going to the same source or using Steele's leaks to reporters to verify their first source. Since TOP MEN at both DOJ and FBI signed off on these renewals, it is clear that this is how low the bar is.

  • Diane Reynolds (Paul.)||

  • BestUsedCarSales||

    Did you mean to link to the John Curley thing again?

  • Diane Reynolds (Paul.)||

    1. Someone reads my comments?
    2. No, I didn't. Thank you for pointing that out.
    3. The real link.

  • BestUsedCarSales||

    1) I read everyone's comments. Except Hihn, I skip him.
    2) No problem.
    3) For a second I thought maybe you were blessing Iowahawk for no particular reason, which would also have been completely correct.

  • Diane Reynolds (Paul.)||

    I'm still shocked a Kennedy holds national office.

  • Red Rocks White Privilege||

    I'm still shocked a Kennedy holds national office.

    America's version of the Hapsburgs--a once powerful family rendered ridiculous by generations of inbreeding.

  • EscherEnigma||

    Based on the frequency of "huh. It looks like Republicans *don't* actually care about small government or the debt" articles, I think "hasn't been paying attention" is common 'round here.

  • BestUsedCarSales||

    Not enough people here bite the bullet and go for the true freeing power of being a libertarian /anarchist/ ancap / whattonyisangryaboutrightnow is that you are free to criticize the bad, and praise the good of both sides without any concern about the underlying politics of it all.

  • Bubba Jones||

    Yeah, but if GOP is 97% bad and Dems are 99.999%... it will look like a GOP circle jerk.

  • BestUsedCarSales||

    Perhaps, but I see a lot of defense of bad republican actions, as well as a shit-ton of blanket statements that Obama did it too.

  • EscherEnigma||

    Criticize the bad and praise the good? Sure.

    But what's that got to do with willful ignorance that leads to self-delusions?

  • BestUsedCarSales||

    It's part of that. They haven't made the leap away from Republicans. They are still connected to them, even if they have underlying small-government beliefs. So they resolve this cognitive dissonance through self-delusions. They can't take the good and bad, they often reflexively defend still. Because they haven't made that leap.

    I don't know if you politically consider yourself any specific label, but I imagine in general it's the same for anyone moving away from attachment of the big two.

  • BestUsedCarSales||

    Now, having said this, I need to admit that we all have our cognitive dissonances, their biases, and their contradictory beliefs. I do not wish to imply that I'm some clear sighted uberman who is the only one who sees the truth. I have my own blinds as much as any.

  • Incomprehensible Bitching||

    Speak for yourself, jack wagon.

  • Incomprehensible Bitching||

    The republicans are clearly separated from reality, as they circle the wagons around their disgraced candidate Drumpcicle.

    When this is over, The Drumpslacker and Peancishead will be impeached from office, paving the way for Nancy Pelosi and the Blue Wave, who, after taking office, will choose the real President Hillary Clinton as her Vice President, and resign, putting Hillary in her rightful place as President of the United States.

    Please, Mueller: fulfill your destiny.

  • BestUsedCarSales||

    Impossible to deny.

  • Michael Ejercito||

    That comment was a parody.

  • BestUsedCarSales||

    I'm well aware.

  • SIV||

    What the hell were we doing in Libya to begin with?

    Exporting arms to ISIS and their allies in Syria. Everybody knew this.It was even reported in mainstream European media. Benghazi went nowhere because "National Security" Republicans didn't want to go there owing their loyalty to the National Security State and not the constitution or their constituents

  • ||

    All this Kama Sutra partisan political posturing to somehow keep Hillary shielded is despicable.

    I still would like to know why. Is it because if they arrest her it leaves the political class exposed?

  • BestUsedCarSales||

    How does this jump to Hillary? Even I think paying for a dossier to be made is not a particularly smoking gun. Or do you mean something other than this memo.

  • Unlabelable MJGreen||

    They're still sore over emails, I think. Nick mentioned it above, that's enough to set it off.

    If instead they're talking about her using the FBI to sway the election, then Ken's use of "robbery in broad daylight" is hilarious.

  • BestUsedCarSales||

    It's not like I need particularly more to find Hillary unpleasant. She doesn't have to be the root of all evil that happens.

  • Red Rocks White Privilege||

    She doesn't have to be the root of all evil that happens.

    She doesn't have to be, but a lot of this activity goes back to her. Keep in mind that she had essentially turned the DNC into Hillary, Inc. by this time--she was paying their bills and had say over who they hired as part of the deal to bail them out. Is there a direct connection? Debatable, but is it really out of bounds to speculate as to what her involvement in all this was, if the DNC was paying for Fusion to do opposition research, then took the document to the Obama administration so they could use it as justification to undermine her opponent? It's not like the Clintons' sleazy reputation is unearned. Take the fact that the FBI decided to exonerate her weeks before Comey's press conference into account, and it's not hard to see why people would be bringing her up.

  • Unlabelable MJGreen||

    So long as you recognize that it's all speculation.

  • Cyto||

    It is not speculation that her campaign paid for the opposition research dossier. That's pretty standard political fare.

    It is not speculation that the DNC also paid for it. And it is not speculation that the DNC was not an independent organization at the time. They were owned, lock, stock and barrel by the Clinton machine.

    It is not speculation that the DOJ had a person acting as a liaison to the Fusion GPS dirt-digger. It is also not speculation that this deputy Attorney General who was coordinating with Steele was married to a woman who worked for Fusion GPS. And not in some incidental capacity. Her job involved producing the opposition research on Trump. She is being paid by the Clinton campaign - indirectly, but paid nonetheless. And because we know that Fusion GPS was actively seeking to get their dossier publicized, we can introduce just a hint of deductive reasoning to say that she was probably being paid to make sure that the DOJ paid attention to the dirt-digging. And probably helping to make sure that the FBI paid for the information.

    So Clinton paychecks probably were used to push the FBI and the DOJ to investigate the Trump campaign based on their dossier. This is the only bit that involves speculation. And it isn't really idle speculation, at that.

  • Sevo||

    'So long as you recognize that [some small part of it] is speculation.'
    Fixed, just for you!

  • Ecoli||

    Hillary's 'Sure' Victory Explains Most Everything

    Google it. Victor Davis Hanson is superb.

  • Incomprehensible Bitching||

    When the Russians help Trump, that's treason.

    When the Democrats hire the Russians, that's just doing business.

    Get it straight!

  • Incomprehensible Bitching||

    That's it: the Russians win.

    Check and mate.

  • Michael Cook||

    Established today that we live in a nation where the FBI/DOJ feels comfortable using what is basically a fictional, longish press release that a political campaign paid $12 Million to procure to annihilate the privacy rights of American citizens who were standing in the way of the ambitions of Hillary Rodham Clinton

  • Don't look at me.||

    Yes.
    It was her turn !

  • Sevo||

    "...Investigative journalist Sharyl Attkisson, [...] reports on new text messages between Peter Strzok and Lisa Page, two FBI officials whose political animus against Donald Trump has hurt the credibility of the Russia investigation."

    The "Russia investigation" has been going on for, what 15 months now? They've got two guys who 'lied to a federal official', as did Clapper, and he walked. Plus a guy who laundered money a long time before he had any connection to Trump. And what specifically is being investigated?
    Pretty sure there's not a lot of credibility to lose.

  • OpenBordersLiberal-tarian||

    MAGA = Mueller Ain't Going Away

    Don't kid yourself. Mueller is going to reveal some truly earth-shattering info that will destroy Drumpf's presidency. Might happen tomorrow, might happen next month, but it will happen eventually. Then the Democratic House majority produced by November's #BlueWave can impeach.

  • Sevo||

    "Mueller is going to reveal some truly earth-shattering info that will destroy Drumpf's presidency."
    Before anyone points out that this is bullshit posing as comment, I KNOW! It's also commie-kid with the same stench and a new handle.
    Regardless, by now it's odds-on that the info will have Trump 'accepting payments from a foreign government' when he was peddling development and we'll have Tony and whatever commie-kid's handle is at the time with wedgies!

  • Cyto||

    Ok, we've run a half of a news cycle on "the memo" and my go-to authoritative source for libertarian news and opinion has run one article summarizing the tweets of others and one article that has the take that we should already severely mistrust the FBI.

    I expect a little more from Reason. So let me give you a boost.... here's a list of topics to cover in depth, just dealing with the contents of the memo.

    1. The FBI paid for the production of the Fusion GPS opposition research file. That was new to me. The Clinton campaign paid for it, and the DNC paid for it. And then the FBI paid for it. And then used it to justify spying on members of the opposition party's presidential campaign. This is a big deal. Remember, the FBI worked for Obama at the time. If you can't connect the dots to why this looks bad, you aren't a libertarian.

  • Cyto||

    2. Someone in the government declared this memo as classified. Really. Go re-read the thing. Is there even one syllable in that thing that could plausibly be deemed as classified? Reason has run articles about over-classification as a problem in the government in the past. This one reeks of a potential partisan cover-up, but you don't need that to have a really important story about the casual abuse of the "classified" label.

  • Cyto||

    3. A deputy Attorney General at the Department of Justice was working with Steele as a direct source of information. Mr. Ohr's wife was working for Fusion GPS developing opposition research on Trump. Ya get that? No potential conflicts of interest worth digging into here, are there? He works with the guys who are submitting the warrant application to the FISA court, his wife is getting paid to dig up dirt on Trump, and he's the liaison to the chief source of dirt on Trump.

    4. FISA courts. Secret courts that hear secret evidence to determine if it is OK for the government to spy on its own citizens. We hate this stuff, remember? If ever there was something ripe for abuse, this is it. Reason has written reams on this topic. Here ya go! We have absolute evidence that the FISA courts have been perverted for partisan political purposes. If you don't want to make the leap simply on the basis of the facts presented in this memo, pull in the fact that they "unmasked" the Americans captured in the wiretaps and subsequently distributed this top secret information with the expressed intent of undermining the incoming president elect. This last bit is not conjecture. They openly bragged about it in the New York Times.

  • Cyto||

    Random other thing that I'd like to see Reason do some original reporting on:

    Apparently there are allegations floating about that Fusion GPS paid several news outlets to publish their stories on Trump. It seems that this is given up in answer to a question put to the head of Fusion GPS by the investigating committee.

    So here's the possible scenario: Clinton pays Fusion GPS to dig up dirt. Clinton pays Fusion GPS to make sure dirt makes the news. After failing at leaking the dossier to reporters, they end up just paying for placement.

    Did that really happen? Because if it did, that's also a pretty big deal. It goes directly to the perversion of the 4th estate. What is the price of integrity in the media these days? Or is this all just gossip and it never really happened.

    Plus, the FBI terminated Steele as a source because he was going to the media. This rumor makes it sound like he was going to the media because that's what he was being paid to do.... paid to do so by Fusion GPS, who was being paid by Clinton and the DNC.

  • Michael Cook||

    Well, the sources and methods of the FBI seem apparent when they unquestioningly use an opposition research press release in the application to surveil any American citizen they feel like. I guess I'd want to keep that method secret if I were them.

  • Hunthjof||

    The one error is that you think this will ever make it out of the DOJ. The administration will have sheilded themselves as much as possible from any of this. It will be the defense we heard for the last 8 years. "At no time did the Obama administration know what the Obama administration was doing.' This has frustrated me from the beginning. The IRS scandal and Fast and Furious being prime examples. Once again with the FBI we see second level managers conducting questionable at best and downright corrupt at worst activities with top level management ignorant(willfully or not) of what they were doing. For second and third level employees as comfortable as they appear to be with their behavior that shows at the very least mismanagement of a extreme level. Incompetence or Corruption or some combination there of in an agency with such broad sweeping powers is a recipe for disaster.

  • GILMORE™||

    "'... the United States is sliding toward less and less faith in both public and private institutions. That's bad news, because it usually ends with people calling for more intervention into every aspect of our lives by the very government we know is either crooked, incompetent, or both. If we keep talking about "the memo" and the larger Russia investigation only in partisan terms, the only thing we'll have to show for ourselves is even less trust and confidence."

    this is the clearest articulation of an argument-formula that i think has driven content here at Reason for a while

    i do know the 'studies' that he's talking about. (e.g. low confidence in govt drives demand for more govt) Pinker i think mentioned same.

    i think there's probably some truth to the counter-intuitive dynamics. but, in my experience, when something is counter-intuitive, there's a factor being ignored somewhere which explains why the data says what it does.

    iow, i don't think "less trust in govt results in more govt" is a good argument for "dear god, we need to defend our institutions from criticism! lest the yokels create more institutions!"

    if anything, it strikes me as a silly excuse for knee-jerk defenses of institutionalism. what it should engender is a deeper examination of why certain institutions are failing, not some reflexive paranoia that all criticism ultimately leads to strong-arm govt.

  • Cyto||

    This is a corollary to the spin being put in place the last couple of days. Several news outlets - notably to me the Washington Post - have been saying that it is dangerous to question the FBI. Undermining confidence in government institutions like the FBI is a new and dangerous low for our political hacks, they say. It threatens our democracy, they say.

    Really? Questioning authority is now a bad thing. Thanks Boomers, you've come full circle.

    This is really, really strange to me. The framing of everything in terms of anti-Trump utility really has made people take some bizarre and indefensible positions.

  • GILMORE™||

    its becoming impossible to parse what, exactly, the Nick or Robby types are even trying to accomplish.

    on one hand, "everything is hopelessly compromised"

    yet, take the logical conclusions of that, and elect a shitheel billionaire moron who will bust up the institutions, and they start screeching "NOT LIKE THAT!!! NO, WE MEANT, I DONT KNOW, SOMETHING LIKE BILL WELD"

    ...and you're left wondering, "really? that's what libertarianism is about? some squishy, niskanen-esque 'lets spit-shine shitty institutions and pretend to be reforming them? I thought it was about burning the bloody things to the ground"

  • Sevo||

    "its becoming impossible to parse what, exactly, the Nick or Robby types are even trying to accomplish."

    It is becoming obvious that they are both paid to write copy; the philosophical consistency of that copy is less relevant than the number of hits.
    Nick seems to have simply settled on the "Tulpa" model of contrarian; what is sincere as opposed to what fills the page is and gets comments is getting hard to judge.
    Nick, you are no longer paid by me.

  • Lawn Darts||

    The real story of the "memo" is not about Trump, Russia, or even Carter Page. It's not even political. The real story is that, once again, the FBI has been called out for withholding exculpatory evidence. This also happened to them (and the BLM) just last month. (The Bundy Case, to be exact.) Apparently, they pre-judge you, decide you are "bad", then set out to crush you by any means possible. Witholding evidence that makes the accused look good, (or sane), is an evil thing for a government to do. Is this how they have always done it? Or is it a new trend? Either way, I'm happy to have Nunes, point it out.

  • Sevo||

    "...Is this how they have always done it? Or is it a new trend? Either way, I'm happy to have Nunes, point it out."

    Yeah, Nick is leaning on the 'well, they've always done it' argument; sounds suspiciously like 'whataboutism' to me. And his takeaway is that we need a repeat of one 'commission' or another to 'restore faith in the government'!
    Screw that. I recall the names of both those commissions, but I don't recall either one 'restoring' my faith in the government, nor do I see same as desirable.
    I'd be quite pleased if the faith in government fell to a level where 5 voters decided the presidency and the rest of us laughed at their folly. And their choice.

  • Tony||

    Sean Hannity was all in tonight. This is, and I quote, 1,000 times worse than Watergate. No, not the Trump-Russia shitshow, nay, this incomprehensible memo written by a 5 year-old. You idiots don't know or care what it says. It doesn't actually say anything, which is quite a feat for something that might as well be all lies for all we know. The feebleness of this attempt at throwing a shiny object in front of the redneck fundie morons only shows that the GOP is losing its touch on the last thing it was good at--fooling the ignorant.

    Of course that's no problem here at nonpartisan freethinking Reason.com.

  • Sevo||

    Tony, that is a truly impressive effort at dissembling!
    Oh, and fuck off, shit-show.

  • Tony||

    Thank you.

    You have two options: Either

    Trump has done nothing wrong, and the FBI suddenly became a partisan witch-hunt operation because it hates how much Trump is making America great again, or

    Trump is desperately trying to weasel out of accountability for his crimes.

    Pretend it was Hillary, you dumbfuck.

  • Sevo||

    Tony|2.3.18 @ 12:58AM|#
    "You have two options:"

    You stupid shit, don't try to tell intelligent people what their options are.
    You have no idea what the options are; ass a lefty asshole, you do nothing other than lie when you post here.
    Fuck off, dimbulb lefty.

  • Tony||

    So say what you believe. Try to use grownup words.

  • Sevo||

    Fuck off, lefty dimbulb.

  • Brian||

    Funny: I remember a multitude of outcomes when we were dealing with Hillary's investigations and accusations against the FBI.

    Why the false choice now?

  • Ecoli||

    At its root, it was Hillary.

  • Ecoli||

    Hillary's 'Sure' Victory Explains Most Everything

    Read more at: http://www.nationalreview.com/.....wrongdoing

  • Cyto||

    Seriously. There are several ways that this is worse than Watergate.

    1. FBI pays for opposition research on a candidate for president. Nothing approaching this level of corruption in Watergate.

    2. Obama administration uses FBI, DOJ and FISA courts to spy on Trump campaign. This is sort of similar to Watergate, in that they were spying on the opposition party. But it was just a couple of guys. They didn't use the power of the state to spy on them. And this ties directly to Obama, unless you actually believe that both Comey and Lynch signed off on surveillance warrants targeting members of the Trump campaign without getting the Okey-doke from their boss. In which case I have this ocean front property I'd like to show you....

  • Cyto||

    3. The FBI and the Obama administration conspire to spy on an American citizen based on trumped up evidence that is known to all involved to be trumped up. Except the FISA judge, of course. That guy thinks it is all real. But since the DOJ presents it as credible intelligence gathered by the FBI and corroborated by the reporting of Yahoo News (who were using the same source, so not a corroboration), he doesn't have a reason do doubt them.

    4. The Obama administration takes classified information gathered by this surveillance and unmasks the names of the Americans caught up in the eavesdropping. They then strategically place the information at various agencies around the government in order to leak the information after Trump takes office in the hopes of crippling his presidency.

    And that's just for starters off the top of my head. Any one of those things is worse than Watergate.

  • Sevo||

    "1. FBI pays for opposition research on a candidate for president. Nothing approaching this level of corruption in Watergate."

    In fact, the FBI pushed back when Nixon tried; they didn't use their budget for that purpose.

  • Tony||

    I'm sorry, you must have me mistaken. I meant to say that anyone who thinks Sean Hannity has this figured out is brain damaged.

  • Sevo||

    Tony|2.3.18 @ 1:13AM|#
    "I'm sorry, you must have me mistaken."
    Try English, lefty dimbulb.

    "I meant to say that anyone who thinks Sean Hannity has this figured out is brain damaged."
    So you are putting your fingers in your ears and screaming "I CAN'T HEAR YOU!!!"
    Why am I not surprised?

  • Sevo||

    Look, shitbag, we all know you are hoping everyone leaves, you get a zinger in, and therefor you WIN!
    Well, shitbag, I'm prepared to sit here for quite a while.
    How about some answers for Cyto's comments, shitbag? Or is that too much like mental effort for a lefty shitbag who has never shown a bit of it?

  • Tony||

    I'm prepared to sit here for quite a while.

    I believe you.

  • I ate your lunch in the fridge||

    Why did you stop talking about Trump? Keep pressing it man! Win the debate and all these fucks will have no choice but to vote correctly next time.

    The less you mention Trump, the more opportunities it gives for others to use Trump as a positive or neutral discussion resource. Keep your foot on the gas! We are almost at November and can vote a better president!

    Remember what Einstein said about perseverance "don't ever stop doing things for what you think is right".

  • loveconstitution1789||

    Tony watches FOX. Haha.

    Billions in free publicity.

  • Sevo||

    Not THAT long for a worthless answer.

  • Greg F||

    I think this is convincing evidence that Tony is a paid hack.

  • Sevo||

    Oh, and who was threatening to quit if the memos were released? Did he quit? Does the mean his retirement is void?
    Or, like all the lefty hypocrites who were 'leaving for Canada if Trump is elected!', is it so much lefty bullshit?

  • Deven||

    What is sad is that the only thing I didn't know about this memo was that they used a Yahoo news article to corroborate the Dossier.

    If only Reason had real reporters.

    Also, Thomas1774Paine of TruePundit is legitimate and has some heavy hitter sources in the FBI. Guy keeps getting proven right and has been breaking news months in advance of the MSM. I think even Strozk and Page were frightened in their texts about his accuracy.

  • Michael Cook||

    Three statements that inflame the easily combustible:

    Blue lives matter

    Americans are dreamers too

    Sean Hannity is hall of fame journalism royalty

  • Mataratones||

    The U.S. has an embassy in just about every country in the world. So the appropriate response to Hilary's misdeeds there was to -- question why we had an embassy there in the first place? I mean, I'm all for having that question, but there's a time for it and this wasn't it. If anyone has his head up his ass concerning Benghazi, it's Nick Gillespie.

  • Ron||

    whenever someone says we should respect our government institutions i remind them that the Constitution was created as an anti-institution document to protect us from those institutions.

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