News & Politics

The Morning Briefing: Battle of the Memos, Constitutional Crises and Much, Much More

UNITED STATES - OCTOBER 26: Rep. Trey Gowdy, R-S.C., left, leaves the Capitol after the House passed a fiscal 2018 budget resolution on October 26, 2017. (Photo By Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call) (CQ Roll Call via AP Images)

Good Monday morning.

The Patriots lost the Super Bowl. I have nothing more to say about that.

Here is what’s on the president’s agenda today:

  • In the morning, the president will meet with Vice President Mike Pence.
  • The president and first lady will travel to Cincinnati, Ohio.
  • The first lady will visit Children’s Hospital Medical Center to participate in a briefing on opioids and a patient meet and greet.
  • President Trump tours the Sheffer Corporation and discusses tax reform.
  • The president and first lady return to Washington, D.C.

Memo spin level: expert

On Friday, the House Intelligence Committee (HPSCI) released the much-anticipated memo. Some of the important things we learned from the memo include: the RUSSIAN-sourced dossier was used in the FISA warrant; the RUSSIAN-sourced dossier was “verified” by a Yahoo News article that was informed by the RUSSIAN-sourced dossier in question; the FISC was not told the extent to which the dossier originated from a political interest; and McCabe testified the feds would not have gotten a FISA warrant without the RUSSIAN-sourced dossier. Most of all, the memo just raised more questions. Everything surrounding the four FISA processes needs to be released. Let’s go.

The Democrats and the federal agency implicated in the memo predicted tragic consequences if the memo was released. We were told the release of the memo would spark a constitutional crisis. I agree: it is evident the Democrats and the administrative state are not interested in participating in the American checks and balances system. The Democrats and their surrogate media claim the committees are partisan. Congress has oversight of the Department of Justice and yet the department has resisted cooperation with the congressional investigators tasked with this oversight. I have to ask: is congressional oversight necessarily partisan when the GOP is in the majority but not when the Democrats are? If so, what kind of oversight do we have for these agencies? Does the DOJ prefer not to have any oversight at all? That’s what it sounds like according to the snowflake who wrote an op-ed in The New York Times explaining why he quit the FBI. “To be effective, the F.B.I. must be believed and must maintain the support of the public it serves,” former FBI employee and James Comey’s assistant Josh Campbell writes. Well, how about you earn that support and not abuse the public trust by using the power of the government to punish those you decide are your political adversaries?

We were also told that the release of the memo would gravely endanger national security but that turned out to be laughable after the memo was released and we all read it. No one will ever call out the Democrats who made these claims about their ridiculous exaggerations. It certainly reinforces the suspicion that something improper was going on at the DOJ since the Democrats and Democrat media surrogates were willing to say anything to keep this memo secret.

Sunday Spin City

Sunday brought us an all-star cast of characters sent to do some damage control post memo-release. First on the list, THE CIA! Both John Brennan and Leon Panetta represented on the Sunday spin circuit. (To put Brennan’s remarks in context, read Lee Smith on John Brennan and the dossier.)

“We don’t have access to the underlying information of the Nunes memo, which clearly indicates that he was being exceptionally partisan in this,” Brennan said, displaying his own partisanship on NBC’s “Meet the Press.” “I’ve had fights with the Dems over the years when I was in the Obama administration [Liz says: doubtful] … but I never saw the Democrats do something like this that was so partisan, so reckless.” “I was unaware of the provenance of it [the dossier] as well as what was in it. And it did not play any role whatsoever in the intelligence community’s assessment that was done, that was presented to then-President Obama and then-President-elect Trump,” Brennan said on NBC’s “Meet The Press.” And he went on to share this gem, “Just because it was unverified doesn’t mean it wasn’t true.” Is Brennan denying President Trump was briefed on the dossier? That was the entire set-up so the media could talk about the memo without the liability of publishing the dossier!

Meanwhile, ex-CIA man Leon Panetta was on “Fox News Sunday” doing his own spinning. “The [Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act] FISA judges are no pushovers. They are responsible individuals in my experience who carefully review all the evidence that is presented to them,” Panetta said. What if all the evidence wasn’t presented to them? Isn’t that what the memo alleges? And seriously, what kind of morons are the on the FISA court? Did they read the Steele dossier? It’s ridiculous. This alone is a scary fact because the FISA court RARELY rejects requests (.03 of a percent are rejected). Are other FISA applications of this substance and quality?

“The Nunes charges against FISAs, particularly without looking at the entire application, without talking to the judges who actually make the decisions, I think that is irresponsible,” Panetta said. In fact, Rep. Trey Gowdy saw the complete FISA applications.

Why would people view the Obama era administrative state and its current residue in the Trump administration with suspicion? After watching this partisan propaganda display by two bureaucrats who operated at the highest level of government on TV yesterday, it seems reasonable to question if they executed their responsibilities without a political agenda. It’s very clear they have one.

Leaker Rep. Adam Schiff (D-Calif.) warned against another “Oklahoma City-style” attack because of the memo. “But it is impeaching the FBI, and the problem with this, and this is I think at the heart of the department’s concern–is if you have a neighbor who’s buying fertilizer, lots of fertilizer, but has no yard and you have concerns about it and you want to call the FBI, you’re now going to wonder, ‘Is that FBI going to hold my name in confidence or this information in confidence? What if this becomes politicized?’ Sources are going to dry up because of what the Republicans on this committee are doing now.” Hey, Adam, half the country already think this.

As we watch the spin spectacle, one thing to remember is that the left always accuses others of undertaking the exact treachery they engage in. “What we have witnessed during the first year of the Trump Administration is a determined effort to demolish the separation between politics and the fair administration of justice—an attempt to turn the DOJ’s investigative powers into the personal political tool of the president,” Rep. Adam Schiff (D-Calif.) wrote in Esquire in an op-ed published this weekend. The nerve of this guy! Say, did Schiff happen to reveal any classified information while he was fronting for the administrative state?

Moving along, Democrat Senator Dick Durbin appeared on the spin machines to warn what would happen if Trump tried to fire Rosenstein and/or Mueller. “To say that that’s the end of the investigation, that this is all that Donald Trump needs to fire (Deputy Attorney General Rod) Rosenstein or to fire (special counsel Robert) Mueller, I’ll just tell you, this could precipitate a constitutional crisis,” Durbin, D-Illinois, said on CNN’s “State of the Union” on Sunday. Another constitutional crisis! Oh boy.

Honorable mention goes to Matt Olsen, a former Bush-era DOJ employee who worked in the national security division, when he piled on Nunes and the HPSCI. “It’s politically motivated, it’s sort of amateurish, it’s very short and it leads to more questions than it answers,” said Olsen, who is coincidentally an ABC News contributor.

“These applications take weeks, sometimes months to prepare,” the former deputy assistant attorney general said. “Every fact that’s in an application is vetted and scrutinized by lawyers. And that’s before it ever gets to the FISA court,” he said. It is amazing not one person in the lengthy, exhaustive process described by Olsen thought it was odd that the actual dossier was used as evidence instead of an FBI report that was based on their own investigation of the claims in the dossier. I bet they were in a hurry to get that approval or something.

Gowdy pushes back

HPSCI member Rep. Trey Gowdy hit the Sunday shows to respond to the media and Democrat firestorm. Favorite anti-transparency talking points include that the GOP now hates law enforcement and that Trump is just looking for an excuse to fire Mueller. Gowdy explained that the memo wasn’t written to discredit the FBI, but rather to focus on certain high-level FBI employees.

“I have tremendous respect for the bureau. There are 30,000 employees. Let’s assume that there are five that engaged in conduct that we have questions about,” Gowdy said on CBS’ “Face The Nation” Sunday. He also said he did not believe that Special Council Mueller should be fired.

When asked whether he thinks Rosenstein should be fired, Gowdy said: “I don’t.”

The South Carolina Republican said: “I think it is fair to ask the deputy attorney general, ‘What did you know at the time you signed one of the applications?’ I think it is fair to ask, ‘What FISA reforms are you going to implement to make sure we don’t have this fact pattern come up again?’ I don’t judge people based on a single decision that they make throughout the course of an otherwise really stellar career.”

Gowdy also reinforced that a FISA warrant would not have been granted without the politically motivated dossier.

“Would it have been authorized were it not for that dossier?” Host Margaret Brennan asked Gowdy.

“No. It would not have been,” Gowdy, a former prosecutor, replied.

Expect Gowdy’s remarks to go entirely ignored and the media and Democrats to press forward with their talking points. The Democrats don’t have any compelling policies to offer voters so they continue with the “Trump ‘colluded’ with RUSSIA” and “Trump’s a racist” lines.

Another interesting memo-related issue

Fox News’s Gregg Jarrett dropped these tweets over the weekend. I’ll just leave them here without comment.

Must-read of the day:

Nunes memo raises a question: Did FBI violate Woods Procedures?

Where do we go from here?

The HPSCI will take up the declassification of the Democrat response to the Republican memo on Monday. Some folks on the HPSCI want the FISA application made public “if it could be redacted in such a way as to not be damaging.”

Reps. Jim Himes (D-Conn.) and Brad Wenstrup (R-Ohio) agreed that the FISA application should be opened. Parts of the application have come under scrutiny following the release of a memo orchestrated by Rep. Devin Nunes (R-Calif.).

Sounds good to me, get it all out there.

Historical Picture of the day:

This Sunday, Feb. 5, 1865, photo made available by the Library of Congress shows President Abraham Lincoln in Washington. This image is the last photo in the president’s last photo session during his life. (AP Photo/Library of Congress, Alexander Gardner)

Other morsels:

Priebus: ‘Never felt’ Trump was going to fire Mueller

Carter Page boasted about his Russia contacts 2 months after the FBI warned him the Kremlin was trying to recruit him as an agent

Nunes challenger: ‘We’re looking really good’

Not just boy and girl; more teens identify as transgender

This Policy Will Let Kids In School Choose Whatever Gender Or Race They Want Without Their Parents’ Knowledge

McCain, Coons to introduce new immigration bill that omits wall funding: report

Trump brings up national anthem debate in Super Bowl LII message

Otto Warmbier’s father to attend Olympics with Vice President Pence

Anti-Trump ESPN writer Jemele Hill says president uses ‘racial pornography’ to ‘stoke his base’

North Korea is using its Berlin embassy to acquire nuclear tech, intel chief says

At least 2 dead and 116 injured as passenger and freight train collide in South Carolina

Amtrak train ‘on wrong track’ in fatal South Carolina collision

Jimmy Kimmel says talk show hosts are liberal because ‘it requires a level of intelligence’

Egypt, Israel are secretly fighting against ISIS together

Tillerson says U.S. still considering Venezuela oil sale restrictions

Uma Thurman finally unloads on Harvey Weinstein and Quentin Tarantino in a harrowing account

And that’s all I’ve got, now go beat back the angry mob!