The consensus (except at Fox News and the White House) is that the Adam Schiff memo just released utterly destroys the Nunes Memo, which the Trumpites have been trumpeting for two weeks as proving that the FBI is corrupt. That’s certainly the way it reads to me: every single charge made by Nunes (based, please note, on documents he hadn’t seen) is clearly refuted. No, the Steele Dossier was not essential to obtaining the FISA warrant against Carter Page; the FBI was already on him. No, the source of that memo was not concealed from the FISA court; judges can read footnotes, and the DNC wasn’t specifically named because that would have been an unjustified bit of “unmasking” domestic players caught in intelligence dramas. No, those warrants (the original and three extensions) weren’t approved by some rogue Democratic judge, but by two GWB appointees, one GHWB appointee, and one Reagan appointee. And so on and so forth.
To my eyes, there’s a much bigger fact in the Schiff memo. It was already in the record, but I hadn’t noticed it before, and I can find only one published reference to it – from Joe Uchill at The Hill – and no published source draws what seems to me the two strong inferences: that the DNC/DCCC/Podesta hacks were carried out by or for Russian intelligence, and that the Trump campaign very likely knew that and helped cover it up.
The key background fact is that, whatever the Troll Farm was or wasn’t doing, and whether it was or wasn’t doing it in direct collusion with the Trump campaign, whoever stole three caches of Democratic emails – from the DNC, the DCCC, and John Podesta – and sent them off to WikiLeaks for posting made a decisive difference in the outcome of the election; Trump mentioned “WikiLeaks” 141 times in the last month of the campaign alone.
According to the new memo (matching facts already on the record) the FBI first became aware that Russians were messing with the election through the antics of George Papadopoulos, one of the Trump campaign’s initial team of five foreign-policy advisers. Papadopoulos (it has been reported elsewhere) drunkenly boasted to an Australian diplomat in April of 2016 about his conversations with a skeezy London-based Maltese quasi-academic named Josef Mifsud, and the Australian passed the word along to the U.S.(That’s one reason the FBI didn’t need the Steel Dossier to get started looking into Russian election meddling; another was that the Bureau already had its eyes on Carter Page, another Trump foreign policy adviser, as a Russian asset.)
The Schiff memo points to the Statement of Offense filed by Mueller’s office when Papadopoulos pleaded guilty to lying to the FBI. He had told the Bureau that, at the time he first spoke with Mifsud (in March), he had no connection to the Trump campaign. But that turns out to be false.
Defendant PAPADOPOULOS claimed that his interactions with an
overseas professor, who defendant PAPADOPOULOS understood to have substantial connections to Russian government officials, occurred before defendant PAPADOPOULOS became a foreign policy adviser to the Campaign. … In truth and in fact, however, defendant PAPADOPOULOS learned he would be an advisor to the Campaign in early March, and met the professor on or about March 14, 2016; the professor only took interest in defendant PAPADOPOULOS because of his status with the Campaign.
But the real kicker is in that ellipsis:
Defendant PAPADOPOULOS acknowledged that the professor had told him about the Russians possessing “dirt” on then-candidate Hillary Clinton in the form of “thousands of emails.” (Emphasis added.)
The drunken boast was in April. The obscure “DCLeaks” website didn’t publish the products of the DNC hack until June, and WikiLeaks didn’t publish them until July. (The Podesta material came out even later, timed to step on the “grab ’em by the pussy” story.) If Mifsud wasn’t telling Papadopoulos the truth, or Papadopoulos wasn’t reporting accurately what Mifsud had told him, how could Papadopoulos have known in April about “thousands of emails” damaging to Clinton that weren’t published (19,000 of them) until three months later?
And unless Papadopoulos kept silent to the Trump campaign people he was trying to impress about the stuff he was blabbing to random diplomats, then the Trump people also must have known, when that stuff starting showing up on WikiLeaks, that it was the product of a Russian intelligence exploit. So when the Trump campaign spent the fall scoffing at the idea that Russia was involved in the WikiLeaks material – when Trump himself in September suggested that the hacker might have been “somebody sitting on their bed that weighs 400 pounds” – they were knowingly helping to cover up a crime. (In the technical parlance of the federal criminal law, that’s called a “no-no.”)
Even in the unlikely event that Trump & Co. didn’t actually know what Papadopoulos knew, his agreement to the Statement of Offense pretty much clinches the answer to the question “Who did the hacks?” So let’s stop talking about whether the Troll Farm could have swung the election.