Shawn Hannity has been advertising the upcoming release of Devin Nunes memo for over a month. His hype included statements like, “What we are covering here is far worse than Watergate,” “I have a message for the Special Council, Robert Muller, your witch hunt is over,” and “It is the biggest national scandal in our lifetime.” If this is the kind of hyperbolic nonsense that conservatives are fed on a regular basis by Fox News, then it is no wonder that they still support Trump.
Of course, when the memo was actually released, the hype balloon popped, though I seriously doubt that Hannity will ever admitted that. The essence of the memo was the Steele dossier was used to obtain a FISA warrant to wire tape the communications of Carter Page, known by the FBI to have been cavorting with Russian intelligence for years, and that the work on the dossier was paid for by the DNC and the Clinton campaign. My first impression was, “Whoa, is that all you’ve got?!” Never mind the that the Republican leaders of the FBI claimed that memo would cause grave harm to their agency because the omission of the critical facts made it a false narrative. Never mind that Republicans refused to also release the Democratic memo which would have corrected those omissions. Never mind that the FBI had probably collaborated the claims of the dossier about Carter Page using other intelligence sources before applying for the warrant. Even ignoring all of those problems with the Nunes memo, I still say, “Really? Is that all you’ve got?!”
Just because a politician finances an effort to uncover dirt on a political opponent doesn’t make the dirt that is uncovered invalid. Let’s say that the campaign of a politician running for mayor of your town or city hires a detective to determine whether rumors that the current mayor has been involved with some shady deals with contractors serving you municipality are true. If the detective uncovers evidence the mayor has been involved steering municipal work to certain contractors in exchange to kickbacks, does the manner in which that evidence was discovered make the charge any less valid? Only the mayor and his campaign might think so.
Using that example I think you will agree that reason there was a search for the evidence in the first place is immaterial. What is important is the validity of the evidence and, in some cases, whether the person who uncovered that evidence is ethical and reliable.
So, who is Christopher Steele? Before retiring from his government job and co-founding the private intelligence agency, Orbis Business Intelligence Ltd., for 32 years Christopher David Steele served as a British intelligence officer with MI6 – the British Secret Intelligence Service. During his MI6 career Steele worked under diplomatic cover as a MI6 agent in Moscow and his expertise and contacts in Russia remained valuable to both British and American intelligence. From 2004 to 2009 he served as a senior officer under the Chief of the Secret Intelligence Service (MI6), John Scarlett.
It should be also noted that the Clinton campaign never made the Steele dossier public. Alarmed by the Russian involvement in the American election process he was uncovering in his investigation, on his own initiative Steele provided a report he had written to a FBI agent in Rome in July of 2016. (At that point the FBI had already opened an investigation into Russian meddling in our election process based on information passed on to them by Australian intelligence.)
By September of 2016, having grown tired of the slow pace of the FBI investigation, Steele, again on his own initiative, started having off the record meetings with several US News organizations providing information gathered during his investigation. He also provided that information to British intelligence. Alarmed by what the information Steele had provided, the British government, through Sir Andrew Wood, former British ambassador to Moscow, reached out to John McCain in November of 2016 and provided him with a copy of the dossier Wood told McCain and vouched for Steele’s professionalism and integrity. On January 11, 2017, just hours before his authorship of the dossier was to be made public by the Wall Street Journal, Steel went into hiding fearing retaliation by the Russian government and its intelligence agencies. He didn’t emerge for two months.
Does Steele behavior give the appearance of someone who would be influenced who paid him to perform an investigation. Does he sound like someone who would make something up to earn his keep? No, he gives every appearance of a person appalled by the information that he had collected which proved that Putin and his Russian intelligence agencies were attempting to subvert the very foundations of Western democracies and was doing his best to do what he could to stop them. He did what we would want any responsible would do under the circumstance, he went to the law authorities and reported what he knew.
So let’s put aside for a moment that the Nunes memo is a piece of junk which lies by omission in order to break down the public’s confidence of the nation’s justice system. Let’s also put aside that its reason for being is to try to protect a president whose campaign may well have colluded with the enemy and who has been guilty on a daily basis of obstruction of justice in an effort to save himself. If it comes down solely to the use of the of the Steele dossier to obtain a FISA warrant, in my opinion it really doesn’t matter who engaged Christopher Steele and Orbis Business Intelligence Ltd. to investigate Donald Trump’s dealings with the Russians. We can only thank our lucky stars that someone initiated those investigations.