The Robert Mueller investigation into Russian collusion with the Trump campaign will continue unimpeded. National security was not undermined or threatened. There were no omissions of fact in the memo drafted by Representative Devin Nunes. In one simple declassification, the House Permanent Select Intelligence Committee (HPSCI) and the Trump Administration dealt a deathblow to three narratives cutting across the entire spectrum of spin on the Nunes memo hysteria.
The concerns and hopes of each group — Republicans, Democrats and the FBI — were undercut by a memo that, in its brevity, still manages to raise numerous concerns for Americans.
First, let’s dispense with the initial claims by each party involved prior to declassification. Individuals such as Tom Fitton hoped that this memo would undermine the Mueller probe’s legitimacy by exposing the probe as “fruit of the poisonous tree” — borrowed from legal evidentiary standards wherein evidence acquired from an unlawful warrant is not admissible in court. The memo rejects this premise by citing the George Papadopolous investigation as the catalyst for the Mueller probe.
Democrats, ironically now concerned about national security (the party of Chelsea Manning and the party that released Bowe Bergdahl), alleged that the memo would expose intelligence gathering sources and methods. The memo simply corroborates public record knowledge. The FBI’s claim that the memo contains grave omissions of fact failed to stand up to scrutiny when FBI officials reviewed the memo and found no such fault.
Despite all this posturing when the memo’s content was still unknown to the public, there actually are legitimate concerns and questions raised from the memo. Americans interested in civil liberties, governmental transparency and the politicization of the FBI should be outraged over the substance found in the four-page document. However, the spin in the aftermath should leave citizens with more questions than answers. While the information presented by Nunes is not a nuclear warhead, it is a bombshell.
The first violation of note involves 4th Amendment concerns for American citizens. Briefly, the 4th Amendment protects against unlawful search and seizure requiring probable cause and increased scrutiny before violating an individual’s right to privacy. The Constitutional provision also prevents unlawful government surveillance.