The memo was heartily cheered by the Trump faithful. Their narrative is that the whole 'Russia thing' is fake news, stirred up by media, abetted by deep state leakers and a very biased FBI and Justice Department. Both of those departments should obviously be cleared out, with all these anti-Trump conspirators sent to jail.
The Nunes memo supported this narrative by positing the FBI used the perfidious Steele dossier to get a warrant to spy on a loyal American (Trump adviser Carter Page), violating his civil rights. Those who want to take that narrative even further into territory even Nunes can't go, they say that the FBI was spying on the Trump campaign and giving that information to Obama.
The Nunes is centered on the claim that the FISA court judge wasn't told that the dossier was opposition research. Dems dispute this. Am I going to believe Nunes? Not a chance. I'm looking forward to the actual verbiage that Dems points to as backing their claim that the judge was informed that the dossier had political origins.
The duplicity of Steele is a fair target. He didn't fully share his motives. His work was sloppy and uneven, and he broke faith with FBI by leaking to the press while he was very engaged with the FBI.
Did the FBI know the origin of the Steele dossier, paid for by Clinton and the DNC? Did they dig for the information? How did the FBI frame the information from the dossier? Were they clear on its origin at oppo research? Did the judge have full information? It is a reasonable question whether the court would have granted the FISA warrant if the judge had been fully informed.
The Nunes memo is also disputed because it ignores that the FBI was already investigating Russian hijinks prior to the creation of the Steele dossier. What other information had the FBI gathered? Nunes pretends there was none. Trump loyalists pretend there was none--as though there were no Russian hijinks at all. Dems claim there was other evidence.
If there was no evidence of hijinks, then there is no reason to spy on Carter Page. However, if there were Russian hijinks along with evidence that Carter Page was involved, then there's a good reason to spy on Page. Interestingly, Page hasn't been a big figure in the whole issue of Russian meddling. The current inquiry isn't centered around Page, but around multiple connection points between the Trump campaign and Russia. Also, Russian meddling -- can we take it as granted that there were a lot of Russian dirty tricks? Do we need a laundry list of them?
So the question of whether Russian meddling was real is paramount. If it was real, if there were sources showing Russian meddling, and not just the fervid, well-paid work of one biased spy, then the investigations appear to be justified.
If Russian meddling was real, then Russia deserves the sanctions put on it. And it would have been wrong to remove those sanctions, as it appears Trump was ready to do. In fact, the whole coziness of Trump, many of his advisers, and Russia appear to be frightening, as though rules and laws don't matter.
One other observation about the memo. Nunes claims twice that FBI and DOJ knew the Steele was being paid by DNC, but is actually vague on the point. It doesn't say who in the FBI and DOJ knew this. It is also vague on what was known, using the phrase "knew political actors..." This vagueness may indicate that there is no written evidence that the information was known at that time at the FBI and DOJ.
Is this applicable to the memo? To the strategy?
Extras. Reaction from the director of the FBI. Reaction from the New Yorker. Here's an interesting point. Carter Page was already on the radar of other news organizations before the leak from Steele: Huffpost early Aug 2016, ABC July 2016, and Slate July 2016.
Because of the memo frenzy, Congress didn't do the work they needed to in the run-up to the end of the most recent continuing resolution, so we're facing another shutdown. Way to go, boys!
Guess what! There was verbiage to the effect that the dossier was political. It was footnote, and Nunes knew about it. What a fucking liar he is.
More extras that I forgot. Conservative theories and reaction to them. Super-great wonderful interactive graphic about who is who in the Russia investigation. Gowdy splits the difference in conspiracies. An unofficial Dem rebuttal is rebutted. Scathing review of the memo because the critique is very sharp, not because the language is hyped. WaPo timeline I might want to refer to.
Finally, a much better memo from Senator Ron Johnson. Reasonable tone, reasonable questions. Download the memo and the internal FBI communications. This is what a decent congressman does. Nunes is a sideshow.
More and better extras. A long, detailed profile of Carter Page. Impressive unless it's full of Russian disinformation. Another more important memo, also about the Carter Page surveillance, but so much more solid.