The Nunes Memo is out.

Released on the 2nd of February, the Nunes memo alleges serious impropriety on the part of the FBI, claiming that they requested and received FISA warrants illegally by misinforming the judge responsible for overseeing this particular investigation (on Carter Page), using information acquired from the Steele Dossier, but not informing the judge of its political origin and leaning. Supposedly this renders the investigation itself invalid, and from there somehow renders the separate Mueller investigation defunct or corrupt or some-such.

So, firstly the investigation on Carter Page by the FBI was not precipitated by the Steele Dossier. The memo itself states that it was in fact another aides bragging session with and Australian diplomat, regarding his and the Trump campaigns Russian contacts, that first begun the investigation and inquiry into Carter Page. Additionally, Nunes himself confirmed a few days after the release that on issuing their request for FISA warrants for Page, the FBI did note that the dossier where some, not all, of the information presented to the court to provide reasoning for a warrant did in fact come from a political source. Apparently that was not enough to invalidate it. Finally no, the FBI investigation is neither defunct nor corrupt, and Mueller was not involved in this matter in any way until months later when his own investigation began. I don’t think the memo even mentions him.

So basically the Nunes memo is is kind of irrelevant. While it alleges significant things, not only does it refute them itself, the author has denied certain points, the FBI and the Justice department have both named the memo false and misleading, and most people (other than Republicans) agree that while the FBI is certainly not squeaky clean, they are professionals who would never do the things the memo alleges. It did however suck a lot of the air out of the room, and made people forget that Trump threatened to fire Mueller not long ago.

Which, you know, is a big deal. 



The Atlantic: The Twist in the Nunes Memo
The New York Times: Trump Ordered Mueller Fired


Mueller’s Investigation is working with a Grand Jury

I don’t talk about this often enough, but the Mueller investigation is getting seriously deep. Not only has it expanded it’s scope beyond the election but now Mueller is investigating Trumps financial records, allegedly because of possible connections between them and the campaign discrepancies.

And now he’s asked a Grand Jury for help. 

What this means is that Mueller, and more specifically the Grand Jury, can now charge people involved in any possible Russian manipulation of the election, as well as subpoena documents the Special Prosecutor may not get access to otherwise, and force witnesses to testify under oath. It’s also the red line for Trump.

Trump has repeatedly said that if Mueller goes after his financial records, or goes beyond the scope of his investigation into the election, he will move to have him fired. And if he does Republican Senators have warned him that it will be the “beginning of the end of the Trump Presidency” says Sen. Lindsey Graham.

I don’t necessarily see Trump going through with this, notwithstanding his personal avoidance of firing people himself (regardless of what the Apprentice would have you believe) removing Mueller now would require the Assistant Attorney General to do so, and it would need to be because Mueller was acting without “good cause”. Naturally no one would buy that, and as Sen. Graham said, it would mark the end of the Trump presidency. Fear could well hold him back.

Regardless it should be pointed out if there is something there (and I can’t really assume that there is, not for lack of trying but mostly because all the people involved seem so goddamn dumb) the investigation will likely last at least another eight months, if not more, and then if it goes to impeachment the proceedings would then take even more time. I don’t see Trump leaving before his four years unless he voluntarily does it, which would be tantamount to declaring defeat and that ain’t happening anytime soon.

Special prosecutor named for FBI Russia Investigation

With the appointment of Robert Mueller as special counsel to the Russia investigation by the FBI, it could be said that the Trump administration is making an overture to the House and Senate in the wake of ten days of scandal and conflict driving the two branches further apart. It could also be said that Rosenstein’s covering his arse. By selecting Mueller, a former FBI director and one respected by both parties and acknowledged as independent, some members of the house will most likely have been mollified, though how Trump is taking the news is still unknown, and given that he retains the authority to dismiss the special prosecutor at any moment it should not be forgotten that he remains a volatile man-child with far too much power and not enough sense.

Currentlly it appears that Mueller’s main duties will involve investigating, and only investigating, the possible connections the Trump campaign team may have had with the Russian government, and any connections that stem from that. It will only be in the conclusion of this investigation that any ides regarding prosecution and impeachment can be brought up.

And regarding impeachment, let me say that at no point should it be assumed that impeachment will be some magic bullet that will solve all the problems. Disregarding the damage Trump has done and will continue to do to the office of President, the norms he has shattered and the expectations you can only assume some reckless idiot/cynical conman will use to gain power, and disregarding the laws and norm he and his administration will implement in the areas they control (the justice department, the law enforcement agencies, and so on) at no point should anyone assume that impeachment would solve any of those problems, or even Trump himself.

Let’s not forget, Clinton didn’t leave office after he was impeached. Admittedly this was in part due to the flagrant disregard to the import of such a tool, as Newt Gingrich used it more as a weapon against a democrat than a response to a threat to the country as his predecessors did to Nixon. Regardless, Clinton completed his second term despite being impeached for, among other things, trying to prevent an investigation into his relationship with Monica Lewinski. In turn, if the senate does not complete the process of Impeachment and Convict the President, Trump won’t be going anywhere.

Mueller is a good first step, though whether it will amount to anything, whether it can amount to a high crime prosecutable offence isn’t clear. As such, don’t look at impeachment like a simple solution to Trump. He’ll stay if he can, and his legacy and damage will remain for years after regardless of what occurs.


Politico: Justice Dept. Names Robert Mueller as Special Counsel