This article will be focused on those who still deny that Obama weaponized the FBI to spy on his political opponents. I will be attempting to answer as many talking points set up by the Schiff memo I can as well as some other popular arguments I have heard others make.
This is used to discredit the Mueller Probe!
First off Mueller had nothing to do with the FISA warrants. He wasnt involved yet when the FBI requested for them. President Trump may wish that this ends the Russian investigation but it does not. At its heart the Mueller probe is a political process and will only end when the Democrats can derive no further political benefit from it. There is nothing preventing the Russia collusion investigation from occurring alongside an investigation into any abuse of the FISA process by the FBI
At a certain point I fully expect Manafort, Flynn, and others to make arguments using the legal concept of “Fruit of the Poisonous Tree”. This would certainly apply in this case and is one of the reasons why the Mueller Probe is quickly moving to a financial crime focus rather than a collusion one. Yet that argument is one for lawyers to make and wont be done anytime soon.
The FBI had their eye on Page since 2013!
Let us be clear here. The only reason the FBI had a FISA warrant out on Page back in 2013 was so that Page could help them catch the Russian spies trying to recruit him. Let me repeat that again as the Democrat memo is trying to make Page appear as a sinister Russian spymaster. Page helped the FBI to capture Russian spies back in 2013. As soon as that episode was over the FISA warrant was lifted and was not extended. Not until 2016 at least when Page became involved in the Trump campaign.
There are two things that this brings up that the Democrats fail to answer. One of the requirements of the FISA court is that there is no other way to obtain the information that the FBI wants without resorting to it. All normal means of investigation must be proved to be inadequate first. Note that Page had already proven that he is more than willing to cooperate with the FBI. The FBI could have simply asked him for whatever information they needed. It appears they did not.
Second the memo claims that the entire issue started with the drunk George Papadopolus bragging to his drinking buddy about all these supposed contacts he had. Note that the FISA warrant was never taken out on George. If he was the originator of the scandal you would think it would be on him. In fact it does not seem like he was even interviewed till early 2017.
The FISA warrant came after Page left the campaign!
This is an attempt by the Democrats to confuse the issue. After all if Page was put on surveillance after he left the campaign then they could not have spied on the campaign itself. At face value they would be correct. Except the Democrats left out some things.
It is well documented that the national security agencies have a three hops rule. A rule that allows them to spy on someone who came into contact with the target, up to three degrees of separation. For instance say that during the campaign Page asks an intern to get coffee (1st hop). Later on the intern delivers a bagel to Kellyane Conway (2nd hop). Conway then talks to Trump (3rd hop). The FBI now has the legal right to conduct surveillance on the candidate himself. Emails, Voice Mail transcripts, text messages, and other things. There is plenty the FBI could get a hold of after the fact and could even listen to live conversations between Trump campaign officials during the final stretch of the campaign. Embarrassing things could be leaked with the help of the unmasking done by Susan Rice and sensitive things such as campaign strategies, private polling data, and other things of that nature could be shared directly with the Clinton campaign.
Note that the FBI asked three times to get the warrant and was denied twice. This is unprecedented for a court that has denied less than 20 out of something like 35000 requests for FISA warrants. For some reason the FBI was really desperate to have a warrant for Gates.
The FBI disclosed that the attack was partisan!
Republicans say the FBI did not explicitly say the dossier was funded by the DNC. Democrats say it was disclosed as partisan and the FBI could not reveal the name of Clinton as that would be unmasking. I want to focus our attention on the Schiff memo. It refers to Donald Trump as Candidate 1. What does this tell us? It is perfectly acceptable to the FBI to disclose to the court that one of the candidates were involved and could label him Candidate 1. In the context of the report it could only mean Trump. Now that we have established Candidate 1 is ok we can point out that nowhere is it disclosed that Candidate 2 paid for the research.
Legal experts will bring up case law on both sides as is usually the case. I just leave you with one question. If as the Democrats argue it is not material. What is the harm in disclosing that information to the judge? Remember this is a FISA application. Your defense lawyers will never see the warrant nor can they ever challenge it. All you have standing between the FBI and your rights is the judge and the trust you place in his decision. You would want that judge to have all the information possible.
Steele is Credible!
If you take nothing else away from this article I urge you to remember this point. The Democrats argue that the memo should be believed because Steele himself has provided exemplary service in the past.
Remember one thing. Steele is not the source of this information. There is plenty of case law that shows people with bias have been proven to be acceptable informants for the courts but in all those cases the courts at least knew who the sources were to be able to make their rulings. The sources in this case are the random Russians who passed the information on to Steele who then compiled the dossier and submitted it to the FBI. In this case Steele is a lot closer to being the agent who investigates the crime rather than the inside source with information on it.
By all accounts the FBI doesn’t even know the identity of most of the actual sources. Given that a lot of these sources are in Russia it is difficult to see how the FBI could have interviewed any of them as well.
I would like to step back at this point and hope that everyone realizes how dangerous this is. If this is our standard for the FISA court then any sufficiently decorated can obtain a FISA warrant against anyone in the US. After all it is his word and reputation that we must now consider and not the quality of information.
FISA court judges were all appointed by Republicans!
The next layer of defense is that it could not have possibly been a conspiracy. The answer here is simple. Garbage in, Garbage out. If you give justices faulty data or withhold some information (such as Candidate 2’s campaign compiling the dossier) then the judges will rule your way.
Law Enforcement is Conservative!
Remember we are not talking about every single law enforcement officer here. We are talking about the top few. At a certain point in the FBI and anywhere else in the civil service you will need political support to reach the next rank. Whether this be in the FBI itself or as a lateral move as an ambassador to some country or other. The prevailing wisdom was that Trump would lose. If he lost none of this would have seen the light of day and the people who did it would have been rewarded. 4-8 years while you wait out Clinton after waiting out Obama would have been a long time for people in that state.
I hope this answers most of the talking points about FISAgate. If you have anything else please leave it in the comments.