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Seth Abramson @SethAbramson
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(THREAD) BREAKING: This thread is a live-read of the House Intelligence Committee's just-released "Democratic Memo." The new memo torches the so-called "Nunes Memo" that Trump and his allies recently used to try to undermine or halt the Mueller probe. Hope you'll read and share.
1/ Here's a link to the full memo, which is ten pages long.…
2/ The memo begins by noting that the "Nunes Memo" had one ambition: attack the FBI and DOJ so thoroughly, and weaken them so significantly, the result would be the complete and final obstruction of the ongoing Mueller probe.

Trump and Nunes hoped to sink the probe permanently.
3/ The thesis of the Democratic Memo is that the FBI and DOJ have not only acted reasonably in investigating Trump-Russia ties but—at all points—legally, professionally, and admirably. Note: this thesis is consistent with what law enforcement experts have been saying for months.
4/ The more *specific* claim made by the Democratic Memo—a sort of sub-thesis—is that the FBI and DOJ at no point violated the core principles or integrity of the FISA (Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act), its statutory court (FISC), or any FISA warrant-application processes.
5/ MEMO POINT #1: Contrary to GOP claims, Steele's dossier wasn't the basis for initiation of the FBI-DOJ Trump-Russia investigation in July '16, and indeed the FBI team working the case didn't receive Steele's raw intel until September. We know from public evidence this is true.
6/ In fact, the Trump-Russia probe began when U.S. law enforcement received from *multiple* allied intel agencies info on clandestine meetings between Trump officials and Russian nationals abroad. Also, a Trump staffer—Papadopoulos—accidentally leaked damaging Trump-Russia intel.
7/ MEMO POINT #2: The FISA surveillance warrant that led to surveillance of Carter Page was issued in October of 2016—when Page wasn't working for the Trump campaign—and relied upon many evidence streams as part of its application process, with Steele's dossier only one of these.
8/ This claim is also correct. Page left the Trump campaign *prior* to October 2016, and the FBI had previously suspected him of being a Russian spy *prior* to 2016—so they had a wealth of investigative information to offer the FISA court that had nothing to do with Chris Steele.
9/ It's important to understand that when Steele went to the FBI in July 2016, (a) he'd only done a fraction of his research, (b) he only released that fraction to one agent, and (c) by late August, nothing had been done with his raw intel—it hadn't been shared widely in the FBI.
10/ Moreover, as the Democratic Memo notes, FBI contact with Page while he was technically on the Trump campaign occurred in March 2016—prior to Steele beginning his work on Trump-Russia ties, prior to Page's July trip to Moscow, and prior to Page doing any actual work for Trump.
11/ The Memo also notes that *renewals* of the Page warrant after October 2016—and there were several of them—*didn't* rely on the Steele Dossier, but rather on information gleaned pursuant to the October warrant. In other words, that October warrant yielded inculpatory evidence.
12/ MEMO POINT #3: The FBI never paid Steele—it trusted him because he'd worked with the FBI before and had done excellent, reliable work as a partner with U.S. law enforcement. But even so, *it told the FISC* that Steele's employer—not Steele—had been hired by a political group.
13/ One interesting fact disclosed by the Memo—and kudos for its candor here—is that Steele *was* terminated as a source by the FBI. What we know from other evidence is that this occurred because Steele spoke to the media—which he did because the FBI sat for *months* on his info.
14/ Steele has said he believes 70%-90% of the raw intel he collected from trusted, MI6-developed sources is accurate. If so, by August he believed he'd collected intel concerning a treasonous plot to steal the U.S. presidency. Of *course* he was stunned when the FBI didn't act.
15/ Republicans somehow turned Steele's fears of a pro-Trump plot at the FBI—which fears we later learned were well-founded, given the "Trumplandia" plot IG Horowitz is investigating—into proof he's a Dem operative. In fact, he correctly sussed out something was wrong at the FBI.
16/ Steele's amazement at how the intel he gave the FBI was handled is bolstered by (a) the FBI not giving it to its Trump-Russia team for two months, and (b) the FBI falsely telling the New York Times ten days before the election that there was no evidence of Trump-Russia ties.
17/ Moreover, those suspicious missteps occurred as (c) the FBI repeatedly leaked damaging—sometimes wildly false—information about Clinton to the Trump campaign throughout October 2016. Jim Comey acknowledged those leaks publicly—and was investigating them when Trump fired him.
18/ So if Steele went to the media to get into public discourse the intel he'd found, it wasn't because he was working for the Dems—he wasn't; he didn't even know who'd hired Fusion—it was that he had intel concerning a threat to US national security that the FBI was sitting on.
19/ MEMO POINT #4: The Democratic Memo observes—and this is undisputed—that almost *none* of the House Intel Committee Republicans who voted for the release of the so-called "Nunes Memo," *including Nunes himself*, had read the classified intelligence on which that doc was based.
20/ This point—along with a concurrent one made by the Democratic Memo, that some of the sensitive intel in the Nunes Memo was *needlessly* added—underscores that Trump agent Nunes, possibly in coordination with Trump, crafted a *wholly political doc* to attack the FBI and DOJ.
21/ It's too esoteric to unpack in detail, but the below paragraph in the Democratic Memo underscores that everything about the process by which the Nunes Memo was vetted, crafted, voted on, released, and defended from FBI/DOJ critique confirms that it was a wholly political doc.
22/ What the Democratic Memo is saying here—in sum—is the Nunes Memo is a political scandal all its own. And we simply have no evidence in the public sphere that would allow us to come to any other conclusion—especially as we consider Nunes' past (secret) coordination with Trump.
23/ MEMO POINT #5: The Trump-enforced redactions really begin here. They're ridiculous—as we can judge from what's missing that what's missing is info already in the public sphere. For instance, which allied intel agencies shared Papadopoulos/other surveillance info with the FBI.
24/ What MEMO POINT #5 really establishes is that it wasn't just the Papadopoulos intel—or the allied intel about Trump-Russia meetings in Europe—that led to the initiation of the Trump-Russia probe, but *also* that Russian cyber-incursions had already mandated a *Russia* probe.
25/ This is a point the GOP skates over: that if the FBI was already investigating Russian cyber-attacks, of *course* they were going to follow up on any leads suggesting that U.S. nationals—whoever they were—were coordinating with the Russians. That's Criminal Investigation 101.
26/ MEMO POINT #6: The reason Steele's *highly relevant* Trump-Russia intel took *weeks and weeks* to get to the FBI team investigating Trump-Russia ties is that the FBI was *so protective of Trump and the election process* it didn't want anyone to know it was investigating him.
27/ This is stunning. Why? Because in July 2016, the FBI breached protocol to hold a press conference about its investigation of Clinton, rather than just—per protocol—issuing a one-sentence statement saying the matter was closed and/or that it had no active investigation of her.
28/ *At the very same time*, the FBI was *so closely guarding* the secret that it was investigating Trump—mind you, for actions *far* more serious than anything alleged about Clinton—that it had no mechanism to get new, relevant evidence to its *super-secret* Trump-Russia team.
29/ In sum, the FBI's differing treatment of the Clinton and Trump probes—protocol-breaching public disclosures and illegal leaks for her, super-secret protection from even *relevant new evidence* for him—looks for all the world like *the* key factor in the 2016 election results.
30/ What's worse, when media finally came to the FBI pre-election to ask, "Do you have anything on Trump?", the FBI lied and said "no." Meanwhile, Giuliani's NYPD pals went to the FBI with old, already-adjudicated Clinton emails and the FBI told *everyone* her case was re-opened.
31/ So we're only on pg. 3 of the Democratic Memo—and only the first few sentences of pg. 3—and already it's clear that the FBI scandal here is not how the FISA warrant on an ex-Trump advisor was applied for, but how the FBI handled the *entirety* of the Clinton and Trump probes.
32/ (I feel compelled to take a moment to thank those who are donating to the feed as I write this thread—it's unexpected, and not something I'd mentioned or been planning to mention. I guess this sort of live-read is just particularly popular. Anyway, many thanks to all—onward!)
33/ MEMO POINT #7: THIS IS MASSIVE. Judging from font-size comparisons, it appears that the FBI was investigating as many as *four other individuals* linked to the Trump campaign by September 2016, when the FBI's Trump-Russia team first received Steele's raw intel. That's *news*.
34/ While we can't tell for sure what the redacted words are—the FBI could've been looking at as few as two Trump-connected individuals or, I suppose, as many as seven—it's fascinating the names were blacked out. Are those cases closed? Ongoing? Public knowledge? Or still secret?
35/ One imagines that Papadopoulos was under investigation by then, because of the intel from the Australians that arrived in very early summer '16. And certainly both Manafort and Gates may have been under investigation—stunning, given Manafort was then Trump's Campaign Manager.
36/ Given that we now know that Rick Gates was effectively *running* the Trump campaign in summer 2016, while Manafort was its nominal head, and Page and Papadopoulos were 1/6th of Trump's NatSec team—how the hell did the FBI keep this quiet? On Clinton, they leaked like a sieve.
37/ In any case, due to redactions we don't know if there are other Trumpworld figures the FBI suspected of working with the Russians in mid-2016. But we know this: pg. 3 means the FBI was doing *much* more than just looking at intel on Carter Page—and that means Nunes is a liar.
38/ Process this: Devin Nunes, a known Trump agent, went before banks of national television cameras and told American voters that the FBI was an evil organization because it used exclusively intel on Carter Page to initiate its Trump-Russia investigation. He KNEW that was false.
39/ Trey Gowdy—who Nunes deputized to be the Republican HPSCI member who would review the underlying intelligence on the Page FISA warrant—would have seen that the FBI was in fact investigating *many* Trump-connected figures in summer 2016. So why did he let Nunes lie to America?
40/ Related point: is this why Gowdy announced his retirement shortly thereafter? Because he knew that in any reelection campaign, his actions on the HPSCI would be put under a microscope and found not just wanting but possibly *dangerously subversive* by American voters? Maybe.
41/ UPDATE: Thanks to @nedprice for catching this (and here we see the danger of live-tweeting; sometimes you haven't arrived at a crucial point yet!): there were FIVE Trumpworld figures under FBI investigation for Russia ties MONTHS before Election Day—including Mike Flynn. Wow.
42/ Let's circle back to the FBI telling the NYT just before Election Day that there was *no evidence* of Trump-Russia ties—when they were investigating FIVE Trump campaign officials on those exact grounds. Meanwhile, they were raking Clinton over the coals over DUPLICATE emails.
43/ MEMO POINT #8:

a. *All four FISC judges who approved/renewed FISA warrants on Page were appointed by Republicans*.
b. *The warrant was renewed three times—each time requiring a showing that it was producing inculpatory evidence against the person (Page) under surveillance*.
44/ An old law school professor of mine—a longtime defense attorney (the same type of attorney I'd later become)—once said, "Thank *god* most defendants are guilty—America would be a terrible place if it were otherwise." The same can be said of whether U.S. law enforcement works.
45/ My point is, it's *good news for America* the FISA process was followed meticulously—the only reason Republicans joyously whoop over the (false) possibility it was otherwise is because they want to save Trump from responsibility for his crimes. It's not about being patriotic.
46/ In this case, it wasn't *just* Republicans involved in the process—but it was *almost entirely* Republicans (including Rosenstein). Boente certified a Page warrant, but keep in mind that, while appointed by Obama, he was one of the people Trump chose to leave in his position.
47/ MEMO POINT #9: FISA warrants weren't used to spy on Trump or his campaign—or to disrupt the election. Page was gone from Trump's campaign when the FBI sought to surveil him and the first FISA warrant the FBI got in the Trump-Russia case came under 3 weeks before Election Day.
48/ So the FBI began investigating Trump-Russia ties in July 2016—4 months pre-election—but got its first warrant under 21 days pre-election. So we can conclusively say that not only weren't they hurrying, but they misinformed the media on whether they were doing anything at all.
49/ Moreover, given that FBI interest in Page as a possible Russian spy *pre-2016* was discoverable intel for the Trump campaign, we have to ask, yet again, *why did Trump hire him*? Or an inexperienced Papadopoulos? Or a (known) Russia-linked Manafort? Or others with such ties?
50/ I'm not going to summarize, here, all the intel (on pp. 3-4 of the Democratic Memo) establishing that Page looked for all the world to the FBI like a Russian spy prior to him joining Trump's campaign. He did—it's a fact. And Trump's people should've vetted him. (Or did they?)
51/ Suffice to say Page was targeted for recruitment as a Russian spy and exhibited behavior that suggested he was amenable. For that reason, all of the information Steele compiled about Page was seen by the FBI—understandably and indeed rightly—as consistent with what they knew.
52/ I say "rightly" because of what we and the FBI learned about Page after that first FISA warrant: he bragged about being a Kremlin advisor even *after* the FBI caught him on the road to recruitment by Russia; he lied about who he met with in Moscow in July 2016; and much more.
53/ Trump's sham attacks on the Steele Dossier are revealed for what they are by the Democratic Memo. Below is *supposed* to be a paragraph detailing just *some* of what the FBI knows that corroborates the Steele Dossier. Trump could've cleared this for public release—he refused.
54/ Fortunately, the Memo is able to note—correctly—that Page lied before Congress (a federal crime) before this *second* paragraph trying to show American voters how Steele's intel on Page has been corroborated.

And look what we get, instead, contrary to the Democrats' wishes:
55/ MEMO POINT #10: Pg. 5 details all the ways in which the FBI was *transparent* with the FISC about Steele's background, including both indicia of reliability *and* information about the political motivations of those who hired Steele's *employer* (note: *not* Steele himself).
56/ The FBI also—extraordinarily—told the FISC it had terminated its relationship with Steele by October '16. That underscores the FBI's candor *and* underscores how long Steele waited for the FBI to act on his intel before going to the media frayed his relationship with the FBI.
57/ The simple fact, established on pg. 6, is this: Steele is one of the most qualified and trusted professionals in his field. MI6 trusted him to train other MI6 agents. The FBI trusted him to work with them on major cases. Top FBI brass could personally attest to his integrity.
58/ What happened with Steele and the media, per the Memo: at the time of its first warrant app, the FBI *didn't know* Steele had talked to the media; in its *second* warrant app, the FBI said it had terminated its relationship with Steele because of a late October media contact.
59/ So:
a) The FBI told FISC of Steele's media contacts as soon as it knew of them.
b) Steele's objectionable contact came in late October—as someone in the FBI was misrepresenting to the media the FBI's evidence of Trump-Russia ties.

Hard to blame either the FBI or Steele here.
60/ Keep in mind that IG Horowitz is right now investigating the very rogue-agent shenanigans at the FBI that caused Steele to feel that his critical national-security intelligence was not reaching those it needed to reach—even as Clinton intel was being improperly disclosed.
61/ While the FBI, per the Democratic Memo, did *consider* paying Steele—as it had paid him for his professional workproduct before, and it thus would've been a reasonable decision in this case—it ultimately did *not* pay him. But even if it had, it wouldn't have been scandalous.
62/ Anyone who'd collected the intel Steele collected, and who believed it largely correct—as did Steele—because the sources for it were known to be reliable, would've been so troubled by it as to want to disclose it to the FBI. Steele didn't have byzantine political motivations.
63/ The information Steele collected was of such a character that *any American*—of *any political persuasion*—would've had a *moral obligation* to disclose it to law enforcement—and an even more weighty obligation if they knew (as Steele did) that its sources were reliable ones.
64/ MEMO POINT #11: By pg. 7, the Democratic Memo is itemizing all the omissions and misinformation in the Nunes Memo—and there's a lot to point to, all of it suspicious. And evidence that the Nunes Memo was—from the start—an attempt to save Trump from potential legal liability.
65/ The Nunes Memo falsely said that a Yahoo! News article was relied upon by the FBI as proof of something—the truth being it was merely cited as a way to underscore Page's public claims about who he met on his July 2016 Moscow trip, which we now know were almost entirely false.
66/ The Nunes Memo falsely implied Bruce Ohr—whose wife did work for Fusion—was involved in the FISA app, when he wasn't, and didn't disclose to the FBI his connection to Steele or his wife's ties to Fusion, which he *did*. Nunes was looking for a storybook villain—and chose Ohr.
67/ More Nunes-crafted storybook villainry: he tried to tie Peter Strzok and Lisa Page to the Carter Page (no relation) warrant—though they weren't involved—and offered a selective, hyper-partisan (i.e. not *objective, HPSCI-like*) review of Strzok's actions in the Clinton probe.
68/ The rest of the Democratic Memo is made up of footnotes, with far and away the most important of these being the one I already looked at—which appears to reveal, perhaps accidentally, that FIVE Trump-connected individuals were under investigation by the FBI in September 2016.
69/ I teach professional writing, journalism, and pre-law courses at a university. I was a criminal investigator and criminal attorney before entering academia. And it's out of these experiences I say that the Democratic Memo is a professional document whose research is accurate.
70/ The facts in the Democratic Memo accord with public reports on Trump-Russia since 2016—reports I've studied as a sort of second job for over a year now. In contrast, the Nunes Memo is a political hatchet-job designed to protect criminals—and everyone in D.C. *knows* it. {end}
PS1/ Greg Sargent (WaPo) has caught a line in the Democratic Memo that implies that not only did the Russians (per Steele) offer Clinton dirt to Page—not just Papadopoulos—but that the FBI had corroborating information about this offer to Page, thus bolstering the Steele Dossier.
PS2/ That a major element of Trump-Russia coordination was Russia offering Clinton dirt to Page and Papadopoulos underscores *it was collusion* when Don Jr. received the same offer and—unlike Page/Papadopoulos—not only said yes to it but set a meeting *and* (we think) took docs.
PS3/ Far too little has been made of the allegation—from a June '16 Trump-Kremlin meeting witness—that Don took a folder of intel from the meeting. Nor has Congress asked where Erik Prince *really* got the (false) dirt on Clinton he revealed on Breitbart just before the election.
PS4/ There are many points in the Trump-Russia timeline at which—if 1 fact is confirmed—things end for Trump. If Don took docs from Kremlin agents; if Trump told Putin he'd run for POTUS when they spoke in 2013; if Trump aides coordinated with True Pundit in blackmailing the FBI.
PS5/ Or consider the fact that the FBI appears to have been investigating *Mike Flynn* in the *summer of 2016*. For what? Is it because of what he did during his December 2015 trip to dine in Moscow with Putin—a trip one imagines that U.S. law enforcement was closely monitoring?
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