Former Reagan Attorney Believes Nunes Memo Could Undermine Mueller

Getting dubious surveillance warrants based on discredited dossier generated 'a trail of corrupted evidence,' diGenova says

Special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation into alleged Russian interference in the 2016 campaign may be undermined by release of a House Intelligence Committee memo Friday, according to a former U.S. attorney appointed by President Ronald Reagan.

“The memo provides additional evidence of the animus of the Obama-Lynch FBI and Justice Department toward Donald Trump,” said Joseph diGenova, a former U.S. attorney for the District of Columbia under Reagan.

The memo — compiled and written by majority staff members working for Rep. Devin Nunes (R-Calif.), chairman of the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence — detailed potential abuses of surveillance powers during the 2016 presidential campaign.

The memo was released by the committee when Republicans decided to blow the whistle on what they saw as politically motivated investigations into Trump and his campaign associates during 2016.

Mueller was appointed last May to look into alleged Russian hacking and any American ties to the dissemination of hacked materials.

Now, because the research the FBI and Justice Department used came from a biased source hired by the Democrats, the memo could help unravel the whole investigation into whether Trump’s campaign worked knowingly or unknowingly with Russian hackers in 2016, diGenova told LifeZette.

The testimony recounted in the memo by Andrew McCabe, the former FBI deputy director, indicates there would have been no application to the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court without a collection of papers written by former British spy Christopher Steele, documents known as the dossier.

The dossier was prepared by Fusion GPS, which was paid by the Democratic National Committee and Hillary Clinton’s campaign through a law firm.

DiGenova said the Justice Department and FBI used this partisan research and even a Yahoo News story — which Steele helped plant — to get warrants from the federal court.

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Trump supporters have been suggesting exactly that since early January 2017, when BuzzFeed published the dossier in full. Thus, the underlying basis for the warrant was a dubious trail of innuendo created by Steele, who the memo claims hated Trump and wanted to prevent him from winning the election.

DiGenova said Steele bolstered his own research by leaking contents to Yahoo’s Michael Isikoff in September 2016.

The FBI then took the dossier and the Yahoo media report to the court to get warrants on former Trump campaign aide Carter Page, diGenova said.

The notion that the Democrat-run Justice Department had used “circular confirmation” to get warrants on Trump associates in 2016 has long been rumored in Washington. The idea that the DOJ and the FBI even used the dossier seemed too conspiratorial to be true.

But there were material omissions to the federal court, in the initial request or subsequent requests. Left out, according to the memo, was that Steele hated Trump and that he was funded indirectly by the Democrats.

“These material omissions vitiate the FISA warrant and create a trail of corrupted evidence that could affect all the special counsel’s cases — fruit of the poisonous tree,” said diGenova.

White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders said the memo prompts worries about abuse of surveillance powers.

Reactions rippled through Washington on Friday afternoon, after a week of waiting for the memo to drop.

Influential Washington attorney David Rivkin, with the firm BakerHostetler, told reporters on a conference call that the disclosures about the Democrats’ involvement and Steele’s hatred of Trump were “enormously consequential.”

Tom Fitton, president of Judicial Watch, also said the Mueller investigation is jeopardized.

“There’s no Mueller investigation without the dossier paid for by Clinton and DNC funds, so the whole thing is subject to really, I think, being called off now by the Justice Department, if they’re brave enough.”

White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders said the memo prompts worries about abuse of surveillance powers.

“The memorandum raises serious concerns about the integrity of decisions made at the highest levels of the Department of Justice and the FBI to use the government’s most intrusive surveillance tools against American citizens,” Sanders said in a statement.

Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) said the memo’s release should work as inspiration to rein in abuses of surveillance laws.

“While I applaud the release of this memo, I also call for Congress to take immediate action to help prevent such behavior in the future,” Paul said in a statement. “It is imperative it start by listening to Americans who have expressed outrage over its disregard for the Fourth Amendment and re-examining the powers it reauthorized right before we learned of the memo.”

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

meet the author

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