I assume the staff of the intelligence committee who drafted the memo have some knowledge of the FISA process. Otherwise, the committee chairman would not have chosen them as its drafters. Accordingly, it is hard to make the case that their drafting the memo was simply incompetence. It appears much more likely that they intentionally prepared their memo, the one you have just declassified, to distort the FISA warrant in question and deceive (“to mislead by a false appearance or statement”) the American people.
Anyone who knows anything about the FISA process recognizes that the memo is a fraud. Although critics often point to the Court’s rarely turning down an executive branch request, those who have sought a FISA warrant understand how misleading such an argument is. The requirements are so restrictive and the court so strict, much more than is found in a normal criminal proceeding, that the executive branch does not submit a request unless it is a “slam dunk.” The real story is that even with extra care in preparation the court still turns down 3-5% of these “slam dunks.” For the drafters to suggest that the memo presented all the evidence available to the court can only have been done purposefully to mislead the reader. It is obvious that much vital information has been left out in order to suggest there was insufficient evidence to grant a warrant. It couldn’t have been a mistake. Distortion and deceit was the goal.
One of the most serious crimes the memo drafters and their supporters charge is that an American citizen has been exposed to surveillance without adequate evidence. As I have suggested that is a bogus argument and they know it. The real breach of security, the one the FBI was undoubtedly most concerned about, was the outing of an American citizen as the subject of a FISA warrant. There are a number of things classified about the FISA process, but just naming an American citizen as a spy, terrorist, or an unwitting agent for a foreign intelligence service automatically raises everything in the warrant to at least the SECRET level. I guess the chairman of the committee is only concerned about unmasking when somebody else does it. The FBI and the Intelligence Community as a whole take it seriously. If the memo’s supporters knew what they were talking about, they should also quit claiming that the FBI greatly overreacted to your declassifying it. They clearly never had to convince a source to rat out his dangerous unsavory friends so that more evidence could be gathered, on say, a plot to blow up three high schools in chairman Nunes’ district in California. The FBI’s job of protecting our security just got a lot harder thanks to you.
Mr. President, since you must have known all this and that the U.S. Intelligence Community unanimously agrees there was Russian medaling in the election, you must have some other reason for declassifying a memo that outed an American citizen and purposely deceived the American people. It could be as simple as a fear that to admit the truth could undermine the legitimacy of your election. In such a case the only crime is a degree of arrogance that should stun even your staunchest supporters. At worse, you were attempting to cover up using information from a foreign government -- a long-time adversary to boot – to gain electoral advantage. Should that be the conclusion of the Mueller probe, it is you Mr. President and you lying about it, that is the disgrace. Indeed, in my book your actions are tantamount to a “high crime,” which if you don’t know is an impeachable offense.
True, the Constitution nowhere defines what the Founders considered “high crimes and misdemeanors,” but we do know their worst fear was that the executive they had created would misuse his powers. They had just rid themselves of one king. A new one was the last thing they wanted. Only after James Madison convinced them that the separation of powers and checks and balances would protect against such an eventuality, was the Constitution agreed to, and even then, the fear of an executive overreaching became a strong argument of those opposed to ratification.
Mr. President let’s consider some of your actions during this first year in office to see if any of them qualify as overreach. My list includes:
NUMBER ONE: Your disregard for the rule of law has reappeared frequently during your first year. Asking the Director of the FBI to give a pass to your National Security Director, who was under investigation for lying to the FBI was a clear overreach and a misuse of your executive powers. Asking that same person if he was on your team for all the world sounds like a loyalty oath, one to you personally and not the Constitution. Huge overreach. Asking federal employees who they voted for Mr. President, is also way over the line. If your repeated attempts to undermine the Constitution and the rule of law do not constitute a “high crime or misdemeanor,” I can only believe that Madison must be turning over in his grave.
And don’t forget the precursor event, one even before you were elected, when you attacked a Federal Judge presiding over two Trump University cases. Why? Because he was of “Mexican heritage.” First, one’s heritage or skin color has nothing to do with the rule of law. Second, the Judge was a native born American no different than you with your German roots.
NUMBER TWO: Your Firing Director Comey because, as you said to the Russian Foreign Minister: “I just fired the head of the F.B.I. He was crazy, a real nut job, …..“I faced great pressure because of Russia. That’s taken off ….I’m not under investigation.”
(Quoted from Matt Apuzzo, Maggie Haberman and Matthew Rosenberg, “Trump Told Russians That Firing ‘Nut Job’ Comey Eased Pressure From Investigation,” New York Times, May 19, 2017)
This ranks right there as one of your top misuses of your executive powers. Huge! You may try to wish it away as fake news, but it is from a written summary of the meeting that Mr. Mueller may well have. Do you really want to add perjury to your mounting list of “high crimes and misdemeanors?”
NUMBER THREE: One of your scarcest overreaches is your recent change to the U.S. nuclear doctrine. Under your guidance our forces are now no longer constrained by the “no first use provision” that was good enough to bring us safely through the Cold War. Making the change without even the hint of a national debate makes it even worse. If this is intended as a bluff or justification for a unilateral strike against, say North Korea, think again. Only the Congress has the power to declare war. Even a “bloody nose” nuclear strike in my book should require a declaration of war. If the Congress lets you get away with this usurpation, it can only mean that the members have become so weak our Constitution’s checks and balances no longer work as they were intended.
NUMBER FOUR: Mr. President, your attacks against the media, whether you know it or not, are un-American. It is the autocrats around the world who act as you do. The first target of any new authoritarian is to silence or discredit the media. In most cases they eventually take over the free press so that it speaks only their truth, which is what you appear to want. Dissent is not accepted. For me this alone is a “high crime” and if not, it certainly must qualify as a “misdemeanor.”
NUMBER FIVE: I don’t know what to say about your efforts to undermine the Justice Department and the FBI. The words outrageous and unforgivable come quickly to mind, or maybe you are just an old fool. In any event, it smells of at least a misdemeanor.
NUMBER SIX: Last, but certainly not least, Mr. President, is that incident aboard Air Force 1 where you drafted, with inputs from your son and Hope Hicks, the press release that you knew was patently false. Before you resort to the old saw that all politicians do it, I would point out your intent in this instance was to create false evidence in a case you knew was under active FBI investigation. That, Mr. President is a whole other kettle of fish, one that I suspect falls under Article II, Section 4. You know, the one you keep tripping over.
How people can continue to excuse your repeated abuses of executive power I simply can’t comprehend. It is not a political or partisan issue! For me it has always been a question of whether or not we were going to hold you to account for the damage your actions have on our democracy. Hopefully, and soon, even some of your supporters will wake up to the danger you pose. I pray it doesn’t take a war or another economic recession to see you for what you are – a fake President who must think he is the leader of a banana republic not the head of a democratic one.