Politics

Nunes Memo Could Prove Biggest Political Scandal, Strassel Says

Wall Street Journal writer tells 'The Ingraham Angle' if dubious dossier was used to surveil Trump, it's 'bad in and of itself'

As the House of Representatives prepared to release a controversial intelligence summary memo to the public, possibly approving it for release on Monday, a Wall Street Journal columnist said the stakes are high for Democrats, not Republicans.

Kimberley Strassel said Friday night on “The Ingraham Angle” that if the memo shows the federal government used the Fusion GPS opposition research dossier to get approval of surveillance warrants on President Donald Trump in the 2016 presidential campaign, it will show something “bad in and of itself.”

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The prospect of FBI corruption and partisan bias being used for surveillance warrants is a “terrifying idea,” Strassel said, adding that it could be the biggest political scandal of recent political history.

The four-page memo was prepared at the direction of House Select Committee on Intelligence Chairman Devin Nunes (R-Calif.), based on classified information provided by the Department of Justice, the FBI, and the intelligence community.

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The Fusion GPS dossier on Trump contained allegations — with no named sources — that Trump was under the influence of the Russian government during the campaign. Fusion GPS, a research firm founded by former Wall Street Journal reporters, employed the wife of a top Justice Department attorney at the time.

That attorney was demoted after it was disclosed he met with Fusion GPS CEO Glenn Simpson about the dossier as the campaign between Trump and Democrat nominee Hillary Clinton heated up in the summer of 2016.

Trump claimed in March 2017 that he was spied on during the transition period between the election and his inauguration. Some Republicans have claimed the Fusion GPS dossier was also used to obtain hard-to-get surveillance warrants aimed at Trump associates, possibly within Trump’s properties.

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“It has been reported that the dossier was used,” said Strassel. “What you are fundamentally saying is that there was a campaign document that was paid for and produced by one presidential campaign, and the FBI used it as a justification to spy on a rival presidential campaign … You should be terrified that something like that would happen.”

Strassel said the Justice Department investigation into Russian hacking of Democratic National Committee (DNC) computers has not been slowed or impeded, despite intense GOP criticism that the investigation has groundlessly impugned Trump and distracted officials at both ends of Pennsylvania Avenue from critically important government business.

“I think the memo shows us the Mueller probe is rotten to the core.”

Ingraham kicked off the segment with Strassel by asking Rep. Matt Gaetz (R-Fla.) if the Nunes memo is being overhyped. Nearly 200 Republican House members have read the Nunes memo in a secure location in the Capitol, but only a dozen Democrats have done so.

Gaetz said “names are named” in the memo, and it should be evaluated in the overall context of recent revelations about the FBI investigation. Recent news reports exposed the fact that two FBI agents, involved in the Trump-Russia investigation, sent tens of thousands of text messages deriding Trump during the 2016 campaign.

The texts indicated the agents had a “real hatred of Trump,” said Gaetz. The Nunes memo shows the bias and motives have affected the Trump-Russia investigation of special counsel Robert Mueller, Gaetz said.

“I think the memo shows us the Mueller probe is rotten to the core, built on a rotten foundation,” he said.

PoliZette White House writer Jim Stinson can be reached at [email protected]. Follow him on Twitter.

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Political reporter, LifeZette. Indiana University journalism grad. Boston U. business grad. Former Indiana, Alabama statehouse reporter, Daytona Beach editorial writer.

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