February 10th, 2018

Schiff memo delayed; McCarthy on the Grassley-Graham memo

Yesterday I wrote a post that pointed out the following:

The Democrats protested mightily that the Nunes memo could not be released because it would expose too much secret and/or classified information and compromise our national security.

But the Schiff memo—ah, the Schiff memo! If you redact parts of it we will accuse you of playing politics.

Today we have this article:

On Friday, White House counsel Don McGahn informed the committee of the President’s decision, writing in a letter that although Trump is “inclined to declassify” the memo spearheaded by the panel’s ranking member, California Rep. Adam Schiff, “he is unable to do so at this time.”

“However, given the public interest in transparency in these unprecedented circumstances, the President has directed that Justice Department personnel be available to give technical assistance to the Committee, should the Committee wish to revise the February 5th Memorandum to mitigate the risks identified by the Department,” McGahn wrote.

What follows is the predictable back and forth of accusations. You can read the details at the link, if you’re so inclined.

And Trump tweeted this morning:

If you look at most of the headlines about this topic at today’s memeorandum, you can see that for the most part they are written to suggest that the block is not temporary but permanent. This is no accident; the MSM knows full well that a lot of people just read the headlines.

Now, perhaps it will be permanent. Perhaps the Democrats will decline to redact it further, and will milk the propaganda value of “Trump blocked the memo.”


And in a very related topic, Andrew C. McCarthy points out something that has probably occurred to just about everyone on the right, but that bears repeating:

Rest assured: If a Republican administration had used unverifiable hearsay from a patently suspect agent of the Republican presidential candidate to gull the FISA court into granting a warrant to spy on an associate of the Democratic nominee’s campaign, it would be covered as the greatest political scandal in a half-century.

Instead, it was the other way around…

McCarthy was even more impressed by the information in Grassley-Graham than in Nunes:

With its verification by the Grassley-Graham memo, the Nunes memo now has about a thousand times more corroboration than the Steele dossier, the basis of the heinous allegations used by the Justice Department and FBI to get the FISA warrants.

What the Grassley-Graham memo tells us is that the Nunes memo, for all the hysteria about it, was tame. The Grassley-Graham memo tells us that we need not only a full-blown investigation of what possessed the Obama administration to submit such shoddy applications to the FISA court, but of how a judge — or perhaps as many as four judges — rationalized signing the warrants…

We need full disclosure — the warrants, the applications, the court proceedings. No more games…

But the games will undoubtedly continue.

And please, please, please read the entire McCarthy piece. He is very clear about the Grassley-Graham memo, what it reveals and its significance. His outrage on behalf of the rule of law is palpable. McCarthy is a former prosecutor (see this) with a wealth of information on how it’s supposed to work, and he is clearly stunned at the egregious liberties taken by the FBI in seeking FISA’s go-ahead to surveil Page and at the court’s acquiescence.

I’ll offer just one more quote from McCarthy on this:

For purposes of justifying a warrant, it does not matter that, in a totally unrelated investigation (involving corruption at FIFA, the international soccer organization), the FBI judged that the hearsay information provided by Steele, then a British agent, checked out. In his anti-Trump research, Steele could not verify his sources. Furthermore, he was now a former foreign intelligence officer who was then working for private clients — which is the advocacy business, not the search-for-truth business.

Let that sink in, then think about this contrast: No actual FBI agent, no matter how renowned, would be able to get a judicial warrant based solely on his own reliability as an investigator. Jim Comey, despite having a résumé geometrically more impressive than Steele’s, including Senate confirmations to some of federal law-enforcement’s loftiest positions, would not be given a warrant based on representations to the court that the FBI, the Justice Department, the president, and the Senate all attested to his impeccable reliability.

The only reliability that counts is the reliability of the factual informants, not of the investigator who purports to channel the informants. The judge wants to know why the court should believe the specific factual claims: Was the informant truly in a position to witness what is alleged, and if so, does the informant have a track record of providing verified information? The track record of the investigator who locates the sources is beside the point. A judge would need to know whether Steele’s sources were reliable, not whether Steele himself was reliable.

As I said, please read the whole thing.

I wish it was required reading for everyone, but of course most people will never see it.

34 Responses to “Schiff memo delayed; McCarthy on the Grassley-Graham memo”

  1. skeptic Says:

    It is worth noting that I and other commenters here have been frustrated in the past with McCarthy downplaying the significance of revelations on the scandal along the way and standing up for the FBI and DOJ. Looks like he finally ‘got it’.

    It is amazing to see the Democrats and their media adjunct downplay the significance and seem shocked, shocked I tell you that the FBI would play politics. Have they forgotten about J. Edgar bugging MLK among many other nakedly political actions and FBI associate director “Deep Throat” Marc Felt? No they have not but it is not convenient to remember now.

  2. Barry Meislin Says:

    Lee Smith on Brennan’s sleazy antics, FWIW:

  3. neo-neocon Says:


    Yes, the close of McCarthy’s article, where he says that he’d been wrong in trusting the integrity of those agencies, was powerful.

  4. Manju Says:

    Even prior to Trump stopping the release of the Dem memo, it was known that the only way to defend the FBI was to compromise sources.

    The Nunes memo alleges that the Steele dossier was essential to the FISA warrant. Countering this means revealing all the other sources.

  5. Cornhead Says:

    McCarthy knows the law and procedure. He now knows the depth of the criminality and corruption at his beloved FBI and DOJ.

    I expect the FISA court to act.

  6. Barry Meislin Says:

    Something was very rotten.

    Something still is very rotten.

    And many of the same people and institutions who were protecting the rot then cointinue to do so now:

  7. neo-neocon Says:


    It’s not necessary to reveal a source to say that the FBI relied on a source in applying to the FISA court.

    And if the FBI had all these other great sources, why didn’t the FBI mention them in the application?

    McCarthy talks about that in his article.

    Of course, if you’re alleging that both the Nunes memo and the Grassley-Graham letter are deceptive in that they leave out sources relied on in the FBI FISA application other than the Steel dossier and the Isikoff article (fed by Steele) already mentioned, then that would certainly be interesting if true. Obviously, if Nunes and Grassley-Graham left out important other sources that would change things. It wouldn’t change the fact that the FBI never mentioned in its FISA application that the Clinton campaign and Fusion were behind the Steele dossier, however.

    And I think the chances of there being these other sources mentioned in the FBI application are very very small. I’ve seen no indication whatsoever of it so far.

    McCarthy says:

    Last Friday, the Nunes memo asserted that the FBI and Justice Department had significantly relied on the unverified Steele dossier to obtain FISA warrants on Page. In the week that followed, House Intelligence Committee Democrats and their media echo chamber bleated about how things had been taken out of context, with some suggesting that there was plenty of other evidence to establish probable cause that Page was acting as a Russian agent. (See my column last Sunday responding to claims by Representative Jerrold Nadler, here.) It was even implied that Nunes & Co. had deceptively reported committee testimony by the FBI’s then deputy director Andrew McCabe that the Steele dossier was essential to this probable-cause showing.

    We’re not hearing much of that now. No wonder. Here’s the Grassley-Graham memo on the critical first FISA application, the basis for the warrant granted on October 21, 2016: “The bulk of the application consists of allegations against Page that were disclosed to the FBI by Mr. Steele and are also outlined in the Steele dossier. The application appears to contain no additional information corroborating the dossier allegations against Mr. Page, although it does cite to a news article that appears to be sourced to Mr. Steele’s dossier.”

    Your talking points are a little old, Manju. But if the full disclosure McCarthy is calling for ever occurs, we’ll certainly know more of what’s true and what’s not.

  8. Mike K Says:

    That Tablet piece is very long but very interesting.

    I wonder if Brennan was a Saudi agent ? They hired a lot of State retirees.

  9. MollyNH Says:

    Excellent read at the Tablet, Barry. Thanks for posting.
    Never could stand that Brennan, perceived something creepy about him.
    He always has that sneary expression, have never seen another face on him.

  10. MollyNH Says:

    Mike K, Irish Catholic becomes Muslim convert., ingratiation much ?

  11. ColoComment Says:

    Perhaps I missed your link to the WH counsel letter. If so apologies for duplication. Here it is, with its enclosure:
    The WH counsel letter included as an enclosure a letter signed by Dep. AG Rosenstein and FBI Dir. Wray that identifies (in its own enclosure, not provided to public) for the Dem authors of their memo exactly what objections DOJ and FBI have to their first draft.
    Then WH counsel offers DOJ assistance in revising the Dem memo, …because (paraphrased) Trump WANTS to declassify it.
    Ball volleyed back into other court.
    Well played.

  12. Francesca Says:

    I am interested in the FISA judges and their reactions to being lied to by the Obama administration to get warrants. Shouldn’t they themselves check out or do they have staff to check out the applications? What are the legal punishments for deliberately misleading such a judge? Such punishments if forthcoming should be made public.

  13. Yancey Ward Says:

    McCarthy puts it well, the time for games is over. Lets see the applications themselves.

  14. AesopFan Says:

    neo-neocon Says:
    February 10th, 2018 at 4:11 pm

    Yes, the close of McCarthy’s article, where he says that he’d been wrong in trusting the integrity of those agencies, was powerful.
    * * *
    So powerful it’s worth reading again.
    I wish every pundit/politician was as willing as McCarthy to admit mistakes.
    Is there any prior defense of the FBI (or remaining potential one) that he missed? (paragraphing added for clarity)

    “I spent many months assuring people that nothing like this could ever happen — that the FBI and Justice Department would not countenance the provision to the FISA court of uncorroborated allegations of heinous misconduct.
    When Trump enthusiasts accused them of rigging the process, I countered that they probably had not even used the Steele dossier.
    If the Justice Department had used it in writing a FISA warrant application, I insisted that the FBI would independently verify any important facts presented to the court, make any disclosures that ought in fairness be made so the judge could evaluate the credibility of the sources, and compellingly demonstrate probable cause before alleging that an American was a foreign agent.
    I was wrong.”

    Read more at: http://www.nationalreview.com/article/456287/grassley-graham-memo-affirms-nunes-memo-fisa-steele-dossier

  15. AesopFan Says:

    Barry Meislin Says:
    February 10th, 2018 at 4:40 pm
    Something was very rotten.

    Something still is very rotten.

    And many of the same people and institutions who were protecting the rot then cointinue to do so now:
    * * *
    I saw this earlier in the week.
    He is not the first person to make the connection between the Democratic Deep State and the Communist apparatchiks, but his article was a very powerful one.

  16. AesopFan Says:

    Barry Meislin Says:
    February 10th, 2018 at 4:08 pm
    Lee Smith on Brennan’s sleazy antics, FWIW:
    * * *
    Looks like we did the same web-trolling the last couple of days.

    AesopFan Says:
    February 9th, 2018 at 10:48 pm
    Not precisely on the “redaction-gate” but a couple of interesting articles on the topic in general which I ran across today. The headlines pretty much speak for themselves.



  17. AesopFan Says:

    PS: I’m waiting to see if McCarthy is done waiting to see about Strzok’s intent and influence on the two investigations he was so prominently featured in.

    December 6, 2017 4:30 PM

    “It is certainly worth revisiting these indefensible episodes. It is very much worth comparing this kid-gloves treatment of Clinton to the scorched-earth tactics of the Mueller investigation. It is completely appropriate to probe the extent to which law enforcement and intelligence collection were politicized during the Obama presidency, and to ask whether Strzok was driving that train or just along for the ride. But if you’ve made up your mind that Peter Strzok is responsible for tanking the Hillary Clinton case, and that he was putting his thumb on Mueller’s scale against the Trump administration, you are way out ahead of what we actually know — and you’re probably wrong.”

    PPSS Here’s David French on the same subject at the same time, with a different POV, but also not yet aware of all the details we have learned about since then.

    December 5, 2017 12:47 PM

    “Peter Strzok’s story will hurt public trust in the federal government at the worst possible time. If the story hadn’t been verified by virtually every mainstream-media outlet in the country, you’d think it came straight from conspiratorial fever dreams of the alt-right.”

  18. AesopFan Says:

    Here is an article about writing warrants, from a former LAPD officer. I recognized his name because I used to read Patterico’s blog quite often before “transferring” to Neo’s, and always enjoyed Jack’s perspective and “insider” knowledge. The second link gives some background information about him, if you are interested.



  19. AesopFan Says:

    A reminder that President Trump is not the only victim in the FBI corruption.
    by Eli Lake
    “And this brings us back to why the FBI’s use of Steele as a source was a problem — a problem the bureau should have seen coming. Steele compiled his dossier as a piece of opposition research. His research was designed to dirty up the Trump campaign. This does not mean it was wrong. Opposition research is supposed to be effective because it’s based in fact.

    It did, however, mean that Steele’s tips for the FBI’s investigation would also be shared with journalists. In this case, leads in a sensitive, and by necessity secret, counter-intelligence investigation were also feeding press coverage of Trump at the end of the campaign and during the presidential transition. What’s more, law enforcement officials were also anonymously confirming elements of their ongoing investigation to reporters.

    The Clinton campaign was within its rights to share its opposition research with reporters. It happens all the time. As the Washington Post reported this week, when its reporters were briefed in the fall of 2016 on Steele’s research, they could not confirm it. Steele’s allegations became a media feeding frenzy only after reporters learned that the U.S. intelligence community itself had taken an interest in the dossier.

    None of this discredits the investigation of the special counsel Robert Mueller into Russia’s influence of the 2016 election. Nor does this justify the president’s own attacks on the FBI. But it’s a reminder that there are many guilty hands and victims in the politicization of the Trump-Russia probe. One of those victims is named Carter Page.”

  20. AesopFan Says:

    Well, now we know why Strzok’s emails are so important, even if McCarthy was right to suggest that we “wait and see” — we waited, and now we see. (Via Liberty Unyielding)


    “In this exchange posted online Peter Strzok admits the DOJ was forced to tell Congress about the Weiner laptop emails only because George Toscas at the DOJ found out about them.

    The FBI sat on this evidence for a month before turning it over to Congress and only because they couldn’t hide it from George Toscas.”

  21. AesopFan Says:

    Washington Free Beacon is not laudatory of the FBI’s expertise in counterintelligence, among other things.


    “Another intelligence specialist, Ken deGraffenreid, believes the FBI counterintelligence probe of Page was faulty because the Bureau has lost the effective counterintelligence capabilities it once had.

    That is evident in the FBI’s record of failures in handling foreign counterintelligence cases.

    For example, in the early 2000s it was revealed the FBI had been fooled for years and supplied false intelligence on China that was sent to the highest levels of the government by one of its recruited agents, Katrina Leung. Leung was found to be a double agent working for Chinese intelligence who compromised numerous FBI operations and sources. Her FBI handler, Agent J.J. Smith, also violated fundamental procedures by having an affair with Leung, and by denigrating other legitimate Chinese sources in favor of mainly relying on bogus intelligence provided by Leung.

    FBI counterintelligence agent Peter Strzok, who was a key agent in both the Clinton email probe and the special counsel investigation led by former FBI Director Robert Mueller, was involved in an affair with FBI lawyer Lisa Page, which led to his dismissal from the Mueller probe.

    That romantic relationship also violated FBI rules because the relationship made Strzok vulnerable to blackmail.

    Some 50,000 text messages between Strzok and Page reveal the couple spent a lot of their time exchanging messages, many of which were critical of Trump and indicated support during the presidential campaign for Clinton.

    A more serious FBI counterspy failure was the espionage investigation into CIA counterintelligence official Brian Kelley.

    From 1998 to 2001, FBI agents were convinced Kelley was a operating as a Russian intelligence mole inside the CIA.

    Kelley, who died in 2011, was suspended from his CIA post during the lengthy probe and hounded by FBI counterintelligence agents who refused to believe his assertions of innocence. Kelley said in an interview over 10 years ago that bureau agents went so far as to contact his ailing mother in a nursing home to tell her their son was a traitor, in a bid to force him to confess. [sounds familiar to me; a similar thing happened to a friend’s father, as I mentioned a couple of days ago]

    The probe lasted until a Russian intelligence defector sold the FBI a tape recording of the real mole, who would later be convicted for being the spy turncoat FBI Agent Robert Hanssen.

    The case of Carter Page, however, does not appear to have any link to espionage.”

  22. Tuvea Says:

    Leftists have always suffered from an inability to see the world as it really exists. They do not see that as a problem. They wish to remake ‘reality’ to confirm to their ‘feelz’. The Left wears this cognitive dissonance as a badge of honor.

  23. Tom G Says:

    Time to start talking more about IMPEACHMENT … of the (so far) unknown FISA judge.

    As well as criminal indictments for the FBI DOJ illegal conspirators…

    Special prosecutor time?

  24. huxley Says:

    Off-topic — I just noticed Atlantic magazine no longer offers comment sections. I thought perhaps it was only the articles I was looking at, but no, it’s all of them. Explanation here:


    To be sure there were plenty of useless, trollish comments from the left and right, but overall I get the impression our betters at the Atlantic realized conservative commenters were consistently eating their writers’ lunches.

    I like to look at comment sections in liberal forums to see if other readers think the articles are as foolish as I did. I’ve run into an amazing number of articles which were thoroughly and overwhelmingly demolished in the comments.

  25. Manju Says:

    Of course, if you’re alleging that both the Nunes memo and the Grassley-Graham letter are deceptive in that they leave out sources relied on in the FBI FISA application other than the Steel dossier and the Isikoff article (fed by Steele) already mentioned, then that would certainly be interesting if true.

    “It was not the exclusive information relied upon by– by the FISA court.”
    – Trey Gowdy (co-author of the Memo) on Face the Nation.

  26. blert Says:


    E.W. “Bill” Priestap is the head of the FBI Counterintelligence operation. He was FBI Agent Peter Strozk’s direct boss. If anyone in congress really wanted to know if the FBI paid for the Christopher Steele Dossier, Bill Priestap is the guy who would know everything about everything.

    FBI Asst. Director in charge of Counterintelligence Bill Priestap was the immediate supervisor of FBI Counterintelligence Deputy Peter Strzok.


    Priestap is clearly co-operating with Nunes.

    This scandal is going to be slow-rolled right through to the election.

  27. blert Says:

    Trump has already called out Schiff for deliberately sabotaging his own memo — just as I posited in a prior thread.

    He poisoned it with Sources and Methods.

    Such a ploy was too transparent.

  28. neo-neocon Says:


    When Gowdy made that statement, he was asked if the dossier was the only evidence relied on. It wasn’t. The Isikoff article was also put before the FISA court, as I said.

    Here’s the quote:

    BRENNAN: We should dig into this because you are, from my understanding, the only Republican investigator on the House Intelligence Committee who actually viewed the FISA applications. Everything that went into essentially putting together this memo. So, when you’re talking about this Steele memo, you are not saying that it was the sole piece of evidence used to justify these four authorizations of the surveillance warrant, are you?

    GOWDY: No. It was not the exclusive information relied upon by the FISA court.

    BRENNAN: Would it have been authorized were it not for that dossier?

    GOWDY: No, it would not have been.

    Gowdy gave that interview on February 4. He is saying the dossier was not the sole evidence, and that the other evidence apparently was so weak that the court should never have granted the warrant for surveillance of Page. The Nunes memo and the Grassley-Graham letter both mentioned the dossier AND the Isikoff article as the basis for the FISA application. The article was based on the dossier information, it turns out, rather than being the independent corroboration that would have been required by the court, although the FBI had erroneously (or deceptively) presented the Isikoff article as independent corroboration.

  29. Manju Says:


    According to Wapo:

    The application cited, among other things, contacts that Page had with a Russian intelligence operative in New York City in 2013, which had surfaced in an earlier case, U.S. officials said.

    Now I understand you minimize the importance of this because he “was completely cleared” and thus this “does not translate to the needed evidence for the FISA application…”

    I think you underestimate the importance of this incident, and will elaborate as to why later if you want, but suffice to say that this does appear to have made the FISA warrant.

  30. neo-neocon Says:


    Your talking points are grasping at straws.

    (Mixed metaphor alert.)

  31. Manju Says:

    the FBI had erroneously (or deceptively) presented the Isikoff article as independent corroboration.

    Here is the actual Isikoff article. As WaPo (link in last comment) points out, there are 4 sources for the piece:

    “senior U.S. law enforcement official,”

    “U.S. official who served in Russia at the time”

    “congressional source familiar with the briefings”

    “well-placed Western intelligence source”

    The first 3 don’t a Steele fit make. The last one does. But more importantly, all the sources are saying things like this:

    Page came to the attention of officials at the U.S. Embassy in Moscow several years ago when he showed up in the Russian capital during several business trips and made provocative public comments critical of U.S. policy and sympathetic to Putin. “He was pretty much a brazen apologist for anything Moscow did,” said one U.S. official who served in Russia at the time.

    Isikoff is clearly reporting what he FBI already know (in this case, independently of Steele).

    As for the parts where Steele is presumably the source:

    But U.S. officials have since received intelligence reports that during that same three-day trip, Page met with Igor Sechin, a longtime Putin associate…

    It would be awfully stupid for the FBI to try to pass off an article as independent confirmation of their source’s information when the said article plainly states that this is the FBI’s source’s information.

    Any judge who reads the article would see this. The Nunes memo’s description of how the Isikoff article was used sounds very very fishy. Something’s amiss.

  32. Ymar Sakar Says:

    A Chinese demi god herbalist is needed to consult on how to cook the manju into the correct proportions necessary to defeat the taint of the Leftist alliance.

    There is no need for straws, although mandrakes may be herbally necessary.

    Unfortunately, without the Plame special ingredient, the quality will be less than optimal.

  33. neo-neocon Says:


    Tell it to Isikoff.

    See this.

  34. meningitis Says:

    Washington Post columnist Richard Cohen, in likening Trump to the commie-hunting demagogue Senator Joseph McCarthy, noted that McCarthy overreached when he attacked the Army, and that “Trump may have overreached by going after the FBI. ” Cohen does qualify this glimmer by further observing that “McCarthy, an alcoholic, wrecked himself, but I wouldn’t count on Trump doing the same. ” Max Boot also alluded to McCarthy while comparing him not to Trump but instead to Rep. Devin Nunes (R-CA), who has functioned as Trump’s factotum in denigrating the FBI and anyone involved in the investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 U.

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Previously a lifelong Democrat, born in New York and living in New England, surrounded by liberals on all sides, I've found myself slowly but surely leaving the fold and becoming that dread thing: a neocon.

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