The Nunes memo: enough background to get by

the FBI investigates Russia and our elections

We know Russia hacked into Democratic National Committee computers (to release embarrassing email) and used social media (to spread disparaging information on Hillary Clinton) to influence our election. Russia wanted Trump to win. We also know that this activity was linked to high-ranking Russian officials.

The FBI is investigating whether or not these high-ranking Russian officials were linked to high-ranking Trump officials.

Turns out, some were.

Just a few of the names:

Michael Flynn

Former Trump national security adviser Michael Flynn pleaded guilty to lying to the FBI about conversations with Russia’s ambassador.

George Papadopolous

Former foreign policy advisor to Trump during the 2016 presidential campaign George Papadopolous pleaded guilty to making false statements to the FBI about his contacts with Russians.

He is told by a Russia contact that the Russians have “dirt” on Hillary Clinton.

Paul Manafort and Rick Gates

Former campaign chairman to Trump Paul Manafort and his deputy Rick Gates were indicted. Manafort pleaded not guilty. Gates recently announced a guilty plea.

The FBI special counsel is also investigating whether or not Trump was involved, either by obstructing justice or engaging in a cover up. For example, they’d like to know why he fired FBI director James Comey. (Comey says Trump “asked for his loyalty”
but Trump denies it).

the Memo

The House Intelligence Committee is trying to answer: how did the Russians interfere in the election, and if there were links between Russia and U.S. campaign officials.

Devin Nunes(R-CA) is the chairman of the committee. He had recused himself from this role while he was under investigation by the Ethics Committee for disclosing classified information. Once cleared, he resumed the leadership position.

Nunes wrote a four-page document that accuses the FBI of abuse of power during its investigation into the Trump campaign’s ties to Russia. Republicans and conservative media say it’s proof of bias against Trump; Democrats say it’s misleading by omitted information and cherry-picking intelligence.

In the memo, Nunes raises concerns about a court order for electronic surveillance that the Department of Justice and FBI received in order to wiretap Carter Page, who was a foreign policy adviser to the Trump campaign.  Nunes suggests the order to wiretap Page was incorrectly given because a controversial dossier was “an essential part” of the application.

The dossier was prepared by Christopher Steele, and paid by the Clinton campaign. It includes a list of contacts between Russian officials and members of the Trump campaign.

The wiretap order was renewed three times.

Note: two weeks after the Nunes memo, committee Democrats released their own version, which was a point-by-point rebuttal of claims made by Nunes.

What should we do to stop Russia from interfering in future elections? How much control should we have over social media accounts? Read the Debater here.

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