T Nation

"The Memo"; Your Thoughts


#1

For me…Sen. John McCain summed it all up the best:

“The latest attacks on the FBI and Department of Justice serve no American interests – no party’s, no president’s, only Putin’s,” said McCain, chairman of the Senate Armed Services.
Committee.

"The American people deserve to know all of the facts surrounding Russia’s ongoing efforts to subvert our democracy, which is why Special Counsel Mueller’s investigation must proceed unimpeded. Our nation’s elected officials, including the President, must stop looking at this investigation through the warped lens of politics and manufacturing partisan sideshows. If we continue to undermine our own rule of law, we are doing Putin’s job for him."

Thoughts?


#2

It was the political equivalent of when Geraldo Rivera opened Al Capone’s (empty) vault on live TV. A complete flop, made all the more flop-py by the magnitude of the pre-event hype. If anything, rather than besmirch the FISA process and the Mueller investigation, the memo served to legitimize both.

I don’t know anything about Devin Nunes’ congressional district, but I sure hope someone successfully uses this fiasco to unseat him. He has no business being in Congress.


#3

Jonah sums it up for me. The whole thing is nothing new, and Nunes/Schiff have been an embarrassment.

I’m far more interested in the report from IG Horowitz and the Mueller report (when it materialises)


#4

#5

The Dems were simply following the lead of the FBI/Justice Dept in that regard. So if anyone deserves scorn for overselling the harm issue, it’s them.

Interesting. I don’t know anything about her. Is she a viable candidate? Does she have a realistic shot at unseating him?


#6

It’s actually a he, Andrew Janz. Not sure if he’s got a real shot, but it’s a CA district and there seems to be some dem tailwinds right now. I imagine he’s got quite a few ads in the can already, considering Nunes’ antics over the past year.


#7

Then the FBI deserves calumny. It was still flat out BS.


#8


#9

For some balance to the discussion here.

Talking points.
Memo is a national security risk and presents a mortal danger.
Memo is a nothingburger.


#10

Sorry, Puff:

I’m afraid that article has about as much “balance” as the other side has.

Battle lines have been drawn…and how you see this thing…how you see Trump…how you see Obama…really depends on the Tribe you belong to.


#11

LOL

Obama administration’s abuse of power—which, when all is revealed, might yet outdo that of the Nixon administration.

Feels like Zeb wrote this one. Has that “controlling the media is more powerful than controlling all 3 branches of govt” vibe to it.


#12

Indeed…and it’s peppered with “What-about”-ism…


#13

I didn’t get past the Nixon line, so I’ll have to take your word for it rofl.


#14

Actual talking point: The memo is an effort by Trump and (some of) his Congressional allies to derail the Muller investigation by providing Trump the political cover he needs to fire the DAG (a Trump appointee, BTW).

Prediction: Trump will fire Rosenstein, then reshuffle his Cabinet to make one of his lackeys the new DAG. (Trump knows he couldn’t get a loyalist through the Senate confirmation process, so his only recourse is to end-run it by appointing as DAG someone who has already been Senate-confirmed to a different post.) The new DAG will put significant restrictions/limits on the Muller investigation (especially with respect to Trump’s finances).

What happens after that is anyone’s guess.


#15

Legally, the worst case result is that a probable Russian asset will get off on a technicality.

Politically, your guess is as good as mine. A lot is riding on these midterms.


#16

No need to apologize. By balance I meant for your thread. A view that is different from than what’s been presented so far.

Unless Tyler is your moderate, you’re the conservative and ED is your liberal. Then you’ve got all the bases covered. Wink.

This is being talked about very differently elsewhere.


#17

That’s fairly dark. You’re not normally this pessimistic about political discussions.


#18

This ran in the WSJ a week ago, so before the memo release.

I think he makes some very good points about Russian disinformation. @ The third possibility… This seems reasonable to me.


Please pardon the wall of text. In the event of paywall -

When the “Steele dossier” was first published a year ago, it looked like a bombshell. The document, drawn up by the British ex-spy Christopher Steele, contained salacious allegations against President Trump and suggested that Russia had helped him win the 2016 election. No one has been able to corroborate its charges, but Democrats continue to see the dossier as a road map for impeaching Mr. Trump. Republicans, on the other hand, point out that it was created as opposition research, leading them to see it as an elaborate partisan ploy.

There is a third possibility, namely that the dossier was part of a Russian espionage disinformation plot targeting both parties and America’s political process. This is what seems most likely to me, having spent much of my 30-year government career, including with the CIA, observing Soviet and then Russian intelligence operations. If there is one thing I have learned, it’s that Vladimir Putin continues in the Soviet tradition of using disinformation and espionage as foreign-policy tools.

There are three reasons the Kremlin would have detected Mr. Steele’s information gathering and seen an opportunity to intervene. First, Mr. Steele did not travel to Russia to acquire his information and instead relied on intermediaries. That is a weak link, since Russia’s internal police service, the FSB, devotes significant technical and human resources to blanket surveillance of Western private citizens and government officials, with a particular focus on uncovering their Russian contacts.

Second, Mr. Steele was an especially likely target for such surveillance given that he had retired from MI-6, the British spy agency, after serving in Moscow. Russians are fond of saying that there is no such thing as a “former” intelligence officer. The FSB would have had its eye on him.

Third, the Kremlin successfully hacked into the Democratic National Committee. Emails there could have tipped it off that the Clinton campaign was collecting information on Mr. Trump’s dealings in Russia.

If the FSB did discover that Mr. Steele was poking around for information, it hardly could have resisted using the gravitas of a retired MI-6 agent to plant false information. After hacking the DNC and senior Democratic officials, Russian intelligence chose to pass the information to WikiLeaks, most likely to capitalize on that group’s “self-proclaimed reputation for authenticity,” according to a 2017 report from the U.S. Office of the Director of National Intelligence. Simultaneously the Kremlin was conducting influence operations on Facebook and other social-media sites.

The pattern of such Russian operations is to sprinkle false information, designed to degrade the enemy’s social and political infrastructure, among true statements that enhance the veracity of the overall report. In 2009 the FSB wanted to soil the reputation of a U.S. diplomat responsible for reporting on human rights. So it fabricated a video, in part using real surveillance footage of the diplomat, that purported to show him with a prostitute in Moscow.

Similarly, some of the information in the Steele dossier is true. Carter Page, a Trump campaign adviser, did travel to Moscow in the summer of 2016. But he insists that the secret meetings the dossier alleges never happened. This is exactly what you’d expect if the Kremlin followed its usual playbook: accurate basic facts provided as bait to convince Americans that the fake info is real.

Mr. Trump repeatedly criticized the “rigged system” working against his campaign, but his victories in the primaries and the general election blunted this narrative. The FSB probably believed that Mrs. Clinton would win the election, and that once the dossier became public Mr. Trump would vociferously argue that she had played dirty. Thus the dossier would have had dual benefits: The salacious portions would undermine the Republican candidate, and then his attacks would delegitimize the eventual Democratic administration. The 2017 ODNI report says that pro-Russia bloggers even prepared an election-night Twitter campaign, #DemocracyRIP, designed to question the election’s validity after a Clinton victory.

That is not how events unfolded, but Russia still appears to have enjoyed a major return on its 2016 election meddling. For more than a year, Democrats and Republicans have traded charges of collusion, obstruction and conspiracy. Rather than serve Russia’s interests with increasingly intense partisan bickering, everyone should focus on the common enemy: Mr. Putin and his nefarious attempt to undermine America’s political system.

One credible response would be to pass a bipartisan bill such as the one introduced by Sens. Marco Rubio and Chris Van Hollen that would punish Moscow if intelligence concludes Russia interferes in future elections. Meanwhile, the Trump administration should shine a brighter spotlight on the Kremlin’s espionage and covert-influence operations against the U.S.

Special counsel Robert Mueller should be able to lift the veil on whether the Steele dossier was, as I suspect, a tool of Russia’s espionage. Mr. Steele has reportedly revealed details about his sources to Mr. Mueller, who has also been conducting interviews to determine which parts of the dossier are true and which are false.

Russia considers the U.S. an existential threat to its national security, not because of a military threat—which Mr. Putin purposely exaggerates—but because Western ideals of liberty, freedom and democracy have the power to break his regime’s grip on the country. Americans must enhance their understanding of Mr. Putin’s strategy and tactics better to defend against the Kremlin’s relentless propaganda. Otherwise the Steele dossier controversy will continue to be a victory for Mr. Putin and a loss for our democracy.

Mr. Hoffman, a retired chief of station with the Central Intelligence Agency who served in the former Soviet Union, is vice president of SPG, a political consulting group in Washington.


#19

What percentage of Americans have to be morons in order for all of this Russian fake news and trolling to be effective?


#20

Yeah–in Russia, and on Fox opinion shows.

This memo has become the pièce de résistance of the Trumpian concept of “alternative facts.” Never before has there been such an overt, concerted, scorched-earth attempt by an administration to subvert the institutional integrity a functional democracy requires. Trump is DESTROYING the public’s faith in the FBI. (A recent poll reveals only 38% of Republicans hold a favorable view of the FBI.) He is DESTROYING the public’s faith in the Justice Dept. He is turning the US electorate into the equivalent of the Russian electorate–one that views its political institutions and leaders as hopelessly corrupt, so much so that attempting to discern actual truth is considered a pointless endeavor.

Our current crisis does not pit Republicans vs Dems; rather, it’s Trump’s ilk (ie, those credulous enough to believe in him, or cynical enough to disregard the damage he’s doing in order to advance their own agendas) vs the rest of us.