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The Grassley Letter Everyone Is Ignoring Is Way More Important Than the Nunes Memo

February 9, 2018 in Economics

By Julian Sanchez

Julian Sanchez

It hasn’t been built up by weeks of hype or a fevered social
media campaign, but a letter from Sens. Chuck Grassley and Lindsey
—sent to the Justice Department in January, and
released in declassified form this week—may be more
significant than the now-infamous #memo #released by Rep. Devin
Nunes earlier this month.

The Grassley letter and the Nunes memo both deal with the same
thing: The FBI’s surveillance of former Donald Trump adviser Carter
Page under the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act, and the role
of a controversial dossier on links between Trump and the Russian
government compiled by former British spy Christopher Steele. But
while the Nunes memo has largely been greeted with justified
ridicule, the Grassley letter makes a more direct and serious case
that the FISA warrant targeting Page may have been issued on
insufficient grounds—while at the same time undermining key
aspects of Nunes’ argument.

Grassley’s letter pokes holes in the one truly significant
claim made in the Nunes memo: That the FBI improperly concealed
from the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court that the Steele
dossier was part of opposition research underwritten by the
Democratic National Committee. Grassley’s letter confirms the
accuracy of the counter almost immediately offered by intelligence
committee Democrats: That the application did, in fact, disclose
that the dossier’s funders were politically motivated.

More than that, it makes clear that not specifically naming the
DNC was not some aberrant omission, but the result of the common
intelligence practice of obfuscating the identities of people who
aren’t under suspicion. Glenn Simpson of the research firm
Fusion GPS, who directly hired Steele, is referenced only as an
“identified U.S. person.” Even Steele himself does not
appear to have been named: The ambiguous pronoun
“his/her” is used to avoid specifying a gender for the
dossier’s author. The judges who reviewed the application
almost certainly would have recognized Page as an adviser to Trump
and inferred that opposition research concerning him was likely
funded by Democrats—and could easily have asked if they
thought it was necessary to clarify.

But when it comes to the broader question of whether the FISA
wiretap order on Page was adequately grounded in evidence, the
Grassley letter provides more serious grounds for doubt, directly
making several key claims that the Nunes memo only insinuates.
Critically, Grassley and Graham assert that the Steele dossier
formed the “bulk” of the FISA application, and as
important, that the application “appears to contain no
additional information corroborating the dossier allegations
against Mr. Page,” and that the FBI “relied more
heavily on Steele’s credibility than on any independent
verification or corroboration for his claims.”

If the Grassley letter is
accurate, …read more

Source: OP-EDS

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