Tag: fisa
Former Trump Officials Debate His 'Ignorance' Of Vital National Security Bill

Former Trump Officials Debate His 'Ignorance' Of Vital National Security Bill

Former Donald Trump White House communications director Alyssa Farah Griffin slammed her ex-boss after he "urged House Republicans to reject a reauthorization of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act, known as FISA, ahead of the key procedural vote on Wednesday" according to CNN.

FISA enables "warrantless surveillance of non-Americans by U.S. intelligence agencies," and Trump encouraged his party to "kill" the legislation — resulting in a chaotic and unproductive for the GOP leaders.

Griffin, who turned on the MAGA hopeful when she declared President Joe Biden won the 2020 election, took to X (formerly Twitter) to blast the former president's lack of knowledge on the bill. She tweeted:


-doesn’t understand FISA

-doesn’t understand Signals intelligence gathering-

doesn’t even understand that the Carter Page order wasn’t sought under Section 702

His ignorance & personal grievance is going to cripple our national security.

Another former Trump official took offense to Griffin's tweet, suggesting Griffin doesn't know what she's talking about.

Former Trump intelligence officer Richard Grenell said to Griffin: "You wrote press releases and didn’t get the daily compartmentalized intel briefings on threats, and you never saw the FISA application process. There is so much you never had access to. You don’t understand what you are tweeting. The abuses are real even though you didn’t see them, Alyssa."

Grenell's appointment to Trump's cabinet was heavily criticized, as he lacked the experience necessary for the role of Director of National Intelligence.

According to federal law, "Any individual nominated for appointment as Director of National Intelligence shall have extensive national security expertise."

Griffin, who's now a co-host on The View and a CNN contributor, shot back: "Yes. I did. And as a former Director of ODNI [Office of the Director of National Intelligence] I’m surprised you’re unaware of the level of classified briefings every Pentagon Press Secretary receives every morning in a SCIF [sensitive compartmented information facility]."

On January 6, 2021, after the attack on the US Capitol, a tweet from Griffin went viral, in which she wrote: "Dear MAGA- I am one of you. Before I worked for @realDonaldTrump, I worked for @MarkMeadows & @Jim_Jordan & the @freedomcaucus. I marched in the 2010 Tea Party rallies. I campaigned w/ Trump & voted for him. But I need you to hear me: the Election was NOT stolen. We lost."

Reprinted with permission from AlterNet

Devin Nunes Threatens To Go After FBI Officials Who Investigated Trump

Devin Nunes Threatens To Go After FBI Officials Who Investigated Trump

Rep. Devin Nunes (R-CA) is threatening to go after career FBI officials who investigated Trump and his campaign’s misdeeds during the 2016 election, telling Fox News on Sunday that he’s planning to file eight “criminal referrals” to the Department of Justice against unnamed investigators.

Nunes gave few specifics, including no names and no actual evidence of possible crimes that were committed by these officials.

But the “referrals” seem to hinge on Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) warrants issued against members of Trump’s campaign.

Trump sycophants, such as Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC), have homed in on these FISA warrants by creating ridiculous conspiracies that they say somehow violated Trump campaign members’ privacy. It’s a sad attempt to distract from the 199 criminal charges against 37 people — five of whom have been sentenced to prison — that special counsel Robert Mueller’s team secured.

It also appears to be part of the GOP’s desire to exact revenge against those who investigated the many alleged crimes of the Trump campaign by claiming the investigation was somehow illegal or, as Trump has repeatedly claimed, a “hoax.”

However, criminal referrals from a single member of Congress — such as the ones Nunes says he intends to make — are completely toothless and carry no legal weight.

Politico’s Kyle Cheney said Nunes’ referral is no different than a “press release” as it carries “no force of law” and that “especially in this case, DOJ already has all the info that Congress could possibly refer.”

In other words, this is likely to amount to nothing.

The move instead looks like a desperate stunt by Nunes to remain relevant now that he is in the House minority and no longer has the ability to play defense for Trump at the helm of the House Intelligence Committee.

This is not the first stunt Nunes has pulled since becoming a member of the minority.

Nunes filed an asinine lawsuit against Twitter and two Twitter users who he said, in layman’s terms, were being mean to him.

One of those accounts, “Devin Nunes’ cow,” went from having almost no followers to now having more than 645,000. That’s far more than the 427,000 followers Nunes’ own Twitter account has. What a spectacular fail.

Nunes has also been leading the charge to keep the Mueller report private, saying the report should be burned up before the public has a chance to read it. That doesn’t sound like someone who is confident that the report is a “total exoneration” of Trump and his campaign.

And in another ridiculous act, he called on Rep. Adam Schiff (D-CA) — who is helping expose the criminality of Trump and his team — to resign from his role as chair of the House Intelligence Committee. Nunes wrote in a letter that because Mueller’s report exonerates Trump of collusion (which no one actually knows is true or not given that no one has seen Mueller’s report), that Schiff should step down.

Ultimately, Nunes is showing that he’s desperate for attention and relevance. No one should give him that pleasure.

Published with permission of The American Independent.

The Nunes Memo Mystery: Why Did Trump Release This Dud?

The Nunes Memo Mystery: Why Did Trump Release This Dud?

The only mystery that still surrounds the “Nunes memo” — concocted by Republicans on the House Intelligence Committee and named for its chairman Devin Nunes — is why Congressional Republicans and President Trump authorized its release with such maniacal hype.

Promoted as proof of a scandal “far worse than Watergate,” in the feverish phrasing of Fox News host Sean Hannity, the document is a comical historic dud. Its four pages not only fail to discredit the special counsel investigation but only seem to bolster its importance.

All the controversy over the Nunes memo has achieved so far is to undermine Congressional oversight of the intelligence community; harm the relationship between the FBI and the White House; and wreak untold damage upon the morale of the nation’s chief bulwark against espionage and terrorism.

The humiliation of Nunes and his committee colleagues — already badly embarrassed by his attempt to show that President Obama “wiretapped” Trump Tower — is now complete. And the Russian autocrats, whose social media machinery has pushed the GOP’s #releasethememo campaign, must be laughing hardest.

So what does the memo prove? Certainly nothing that protects Trump. (Knowing his work habits, I suspect he hasn’t bothered to read it himself. He’d rather listen to Hannity talk about it.)

Let’s begin with the Republican narrative that the Nunes memo was supposed to confirm. According to the GOP version, FBI and Justice Department officials premised the Russia investigation on a tainted partisan source — the so-called “Steele dossier” put together by a former British intelligence agent for Trump opponents, including the Democratic National Committee. They allegedly further poisoned the investigative process when they obtained a warrant on Carter Page, a Trump foreign policy adviser with Russian connections, under the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA).

As FBI Director Christopher Ray and other knowledgeable officials noted, the Nunes memo omits many essential facts that contradict the Republican narrative. Yet even in the absence of a counter-memo prepared by Democrats on the House Intelligence Committee, which the Republicans succeeded in suppressing temporarily, it contains a telltale sentence on the final page.

Discussing the FBI’s FISA application on Carter Page, which must be approved by a special court, the Nunes memo mentions that the application cited “information regarding fellow Trump campaign advisor George Papadopoulos.”

This “information” was the fact, first reported by the New York Times, that Papadopoulos had disclosed to an Australian official the Trump campaign’s awareness of “dirt” on Hillary Clinton obtained by the Kremlin. Subsequently, Australian intelligence authorities conveyed that disturbing episode to the FBI. The Nunes memo then offers this devastating acknowledgment about the origin of the Russia investigation:

The Papadopoulos information triggered the opening of an FBI counterintelligence investigation in late July 2016 by FBI agent Peter Strzok.

In other words, the Russia probe did not originate with the Steele dossier, as claimed by countless fakers and frauds in the right-wing media and on Capitol Hill.

Equally ruinous to the Republican narrative is what the Nunes memo omits from its tendentious bullet points. Evidently the authors were foolish enough to believe that if they left salient facts out of their document, nobody would ever know. But that isn’t how democratic debate works.

For instance, the memo simply ignores the basic fact that Carter Page has been a subject of interest to the FBI’s counterintelligence division since 2013, when he turned up in an investigation of a Russian spy ring. Although Page was not indicted in that case, which led to the imprisonment of one Russian agent and the expulsion of two confederates, the FBI warned him that he had been a recruitment target.

So the legal basis for investigating Page had been established years before he met Donald Trump, let alone played a role in Trump’s presidential campaign. Indeed, the Trump campaign and the White House have repeatedly minimized Page’s participation in the campaign, presumably as part of the overall cover-up.

As the Democrats explained in a press release that summarized parts of their counter-memo:

The premise of the Nunes memo is that the FBI and DOJ corruptly sought a FISA warrant on a former Trump campaign foreign policy adviser, Carter Page, and deliberately misled the court as part of a systematic abuse of the FISA process. As the Minority memo makes clear, none of this is true. The FBI had good reason to be concerned about Carter Page and would have been derelict in its responsibility to protect the country had it not sought a FISA warrant.

Moreover, the memo’s misleading assertions are sure to instigate the release of additional information that belies its content and exposes its authors. Consider its claim concerning the sealed testimony of Andrew McCabe, the former deputy director of the FBI who left the bureau this week under pressure from the White House. He supposedly testified that the Carter Page FISA warrant would not have been issued without the inclusion of the Steele dossier.

But Democratic members of the House Intelligence Committee, who were present for McCabe’s testimony, say that badly misrepresents what he said. One way or another, the McCabe transcript will be released — and that is very unlikely to support the Republican argument.

In coming days we will learn more about the Nunes memo, its fallacies and falsehoods, especially when the answer prepared by the competent Democrats on the intelligence committee is finally released. We may discover why the FISA court renewed the FISA warrant on Page more than once — which would not have occurred if the surveillance of Page had produced nothing of concern. Both Page and his patrons may well find themselves regretting that they opened this Pandora’s box.

The first time that the White House depended on protection by Devin Nunes quickly turned into a disaster. The second time is proving their bad faith, dishonesty, and incompetence beyond a reasonable doubt.

PHOTO: Rep. Devin Nunes (R-CA) talks to reporters as he walks in the U.S. Capitol in Washington, October 15, 2013. REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst

Useful Idiots (And Russian Bots) Vs. The FBI

Useful Idiots (And Russian Bots) Vs. The FBI

Nothing is more fashionable these days on the Republican right than to trash America’s law enforcement and intelligence services. Legislators like Rep. Steve King (R-IA) and Francis Rooney (R-FL) broadcast accusations about “major corruption” within the Federal Bureau of Investigation and demand a “purge.” Tom Fitton, who runs the right-wing legal outfit known as Judicial Watch, has even called for the FBI to be “shut down.”

And of course Donald Trump himself has led an unrelenting assault on the bureau, with his trademark screeching tweets and verbal outbursts, repeatedly suggesting that the nation’s premier law enforcement agency is “tainted,” its reputation “in tatters.”

Behind these angry accusations, coming from politicians who claim to be law-and-order conservatives, are unfounded claims that the FBI became “politicized” under President Obama and former FBI director James Comey.

Yet there is no evidence to support such charges, beyond a few text messages between an FBI agent and an FBI lawyer who privately criticized Trump (as well as former Obama attorney general Eric Holder, Chelsea Clinton, and others).  Before anyone outside the bureau ever saw the offending texts, special counsel Robert Mueller removed those officials from his ongoing investigation of Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election, possibly colluding with Trump.

Mueller’s prudent pruning did nothing to silence his critics. Having served as a straight-arrow FBI director for a dozen years, he provokes deep fear on the right. Who knows what he will uncover about the president, his aides, his family, his donors and his allies? Even the National Rifle Association, which appears to have used money from Kremlin-linked sources to bolster Trump in 2016, could be in deep trouble.

Although Republicans’ partisan concern is understandable, their attempts to disrupt the Russia investigation and discredit the FBI are disturbing. Why would patriotic elected officials thwart a probe of what we now know was a sustained attack on our democratic system by a foreign adversary? Why would they seek to disable and even destroy our primary counter-intelligence defense against all foreign adversaries, which is one of the principal functions of the FBI?

Their answer is that the FBI exhibited bias in its handling of two matters that arose from the 2016 election: Hillary Clinton’s private email server and the “dossier” on Trump’s Russia connections compiled by former British intelligence agent Christopher Steele. According to Fox News and likeminded conspiracists, those cases prove that the bureau is part of a “Deep State” plot to boost Clinton and oust Trump.

Looking back at 2016, however, it is clear that the FBI didn’t favor Clinton at all. The Justice Department found no basis for charges against her, but FBI director Comey inflicted the maximum possible damage to her campaign with his two public pronouncements about the case, both of which violated department guidelines. (Meanwhile, the New York FBI office was reported at the time to strongly favor Trump.)

If anything Comey appears to have protected not Clinton but Trump, by withholding the fact that his campaign had become the subject of a counter-intelligence investigation as early as July 2016. That probe was opened following advisories received from allied governments, well before any FBI officials saw the Steele dossier.

Republican officials have also expressed outrage that the FBI obtained surveillance warrants on individuals associated with Trump under the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act. House Intelligence Committee chair Devin Nunes (R-CA) reportedly has prepared a confidential memo, including highly classified material, that outlines the alleged FISA missteps. This cued Trump supporters on the far right to promote #ReleaseTheMemo as a hashtag social media campaign, suggesting that he Nunes will disclose explosive proof of FBI abuses “worse than Watergate.” 

Rep. Adam Schiff (D-CA), the ranking member of the intelligence committee, describes the Nunes memo as a mishmash of errors and distortions. Whatever Nunes says, however, there was ample reason for counterintelligence surveillance of certain Trump aides  — notably Paul Manafort, who worked for Kremlin-linked figures in Russia and Ukraine, and Carter Page, who showed up four years ago in a case that concluded with the imprisonment of one Russian spy and the expulsion of two others. (Page was not indicted.)

 Perhaps the Republican officials who attack the FBI are so blinded by partisanship that they have forgotten the Russians engage in constant hostile behavior, including every kind of espionage. Or perhaps they are what the Soviets used to call “useful idiots,” now mesmerized by Vladimir Putin’s nationalist authoritarian style.

 But like Trump’s depredations against the CIA, which he compared to the Nazi regime, and the State Department, which he has damaged permanently, the question raised by the Republican campaign against the FBI is cui bono: who benefits?

 Here’s a clue. The Twitter accounts most fervently pushing #ReleaseTheMemo — aside from white nationalists and other neo-Nazis — are Russian bots.

FILE PHOTO: James Comey (R), a Republican who served in the Bush Justice Department, speaks alongside outgoing FBI Director Robert Mueller after being nominated by President Barack Obama (not pictured) to replace Mueller, in the Rose Garden of the White House in Washington, June 21, 2013. REUTERS/Jason Reed/File Photo