One thing absolutely beyond any doubt is that the MEMO does not, as Trump wrote, “This memo totally vindicates ‘Trump’ in probe.” It has no effect at all on the probe no matter how you twist or turn it. The reason Trump is so wrong is there is great doubt that he read the three and a half pages.
The MEMO complains “material and relevant information was omitted” from the application for the FISA warrant. It suggests that the omission was done by someone at the highest level of the DOJ or FBI. It states this without the slightest bit of evidence that the people at that level knew about that information. Those who made the application may have known about it but they were at the working level where the investigations are done. Even then it is not certain that they knew it, or, if they knew must have decided it was not material and relevant. Proof of this seems essential to the MEMO yet it is totally lacking.
Aside from that, let’s examine the information missing to see how relevant and material it was in the application.
The MEMO notes: “The “dossier” compiled by Christopher Steele . . . on behalf of the Democratic National Committee (DNC) and the Hillary Clinton campaign formed an essential part of the . . . FISA application.” It goes on to note Steele was a long time FBI source – the MEMO states: “the FISA application relied on Steele’s past record of credible reporting on unrelated matters” and he was paid $160,000 by the DNC and Clinton to get derogatory information on Trump’s ties to Russia.
The MEMO notes none of the applications showed how Steele was funded. The initial application in October 2016 noted he worked for a U.S. person without disclosing that person’s identity. It states “it was known by DOJ at the time that political actors were involved with the Steele dossier.”
It does not tell us who in the DOJ knew of this. We are supposed to assume it is someone at the top although it is most likely if anyone knew it was someone at the working level. There has been no investigation to show who knew what when.
To understand this and why it is neither material or relevant that those matters were not disclosed it is important to understand the history of the dossier.
Steele was not hired until May or June 2016. For the company that hired him Steele wrote 17 memos of information he had gathered between June and December 2016. There is no evidence offered that Steele knew who was funding the people who hired him.
Steele quickly found “troubling information” indicating connections between Trump and the Russian government as well as the exchange of information between Trump’s campaign and Russia. In June he reported this information to the FBI. In June the FBI had opened a counterintelligence investigation against Papadopoulos. It seems obvious that they would have combined both together with other knowledge they may have had because there seemed to be corroboration between the two.
As time passed by September 2016 as Steele learned more about the Trump/Russia connection he was becoming alarmed. Not wanting a Russian lackey in the presidency he told Deputy AG Bruce Ohr that as stated in the MEMO that he “was desperate that Donald Trump not get elected and was passionate about him not being president.” While the MEMO states that this was “clear evidence of Trump’s bias” I’d suggest it a bias well placed against a man Steele believed was being handled by Russia. It was a bias in favor of not having America compromised by Russia.
Under normal circumstances the FBI would seek to corroborate Steele’s information. I assume it did. The issue is though in doing that and using some of the information Steele provided them was it necessary to say that Steele was hired by a firm that was hired by the DNC and Hillary. The issue in an application is not who hired the person but whether the person can be believe and whether the information he offers can be corroborated.
Or put another way, if it was disclosed that Steele was hired by the DNC to get dirt on Trump and he got the dirt that was corroborated should we not do anything about it. If Joe the Bum beat up his wife and kids but he witnessed a bank robbery should his information be discarded?
However you come down on this one thing is certain. It had no effect on the election. The securing of the FISA court order was done in secrecy. At election time in November no one knew about it. If the FBI or DOJ was intent on not having Trump elected each one surely went about it in the wrong way by doing something none knew about.