An editorial in the February 2nd Washington Post headlined “The Nunes memo shows the opposite of what Trump hoped it would prove”, and its first argument was that “the memo reveals that there were preexisting [i.e., prior to the FBI’s investigation into the DNC’s infamous Steele dossier, which even Steele himself acknowledged was probably 10% to 30% false] grounds to investigate, based on information about a different Trump associate. So the president cannot construe this memo as offering evidence that the Russia probe began corruptly.”
However, the Nunes Memo wasn’t alleging “that the Russia probe began corruptly.” It instead argued that when the FBI’s follow-on investigation reached the point where they would need permission from the FISA (or “FISC”) court in order to obtain evidence that might possibly implicate U.S. President Trump in impeachable offenses, the FBI resorted to an ilegal tactic to win the court’s okay: hiding crucial material information from the FISA court. That’s the case the Nunes Memo actually summarizes.
The FBI began its investigation into the Steele dossier after it had already begun its investigation — based upon then-credible grounds to investigate — regarding George Papadopoulos (a supporter of Trump and aspirant for a position in his Administration if Trump would win).
There is no question that the initial FBI investigation began in July 2016 and had nothing to do with the Steele dossier; this is acknowledged even by National Review, a Republican publication that seeks Trump’s impeachment and replacement by Mike Pence. NR notes that, “The investigation isn’t the fruit of the poisonous dossier (though the dossier did play a role); it existed before the dossier.” But the Nunes Memo doesn’t deny this, either.
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