Delusional Trump says he is ‘vindicated,’ prosecutor says the ‘Nunes Memo’ is more proof of obstruction of justice

There has been a great deal of discussion by mental health professionals over the past year about the mental health of Donald J. Trump. See for example, The Dangerous Case of Donald Trump: 27 Psychiatrists and Mental Health Experts Assess a President. Numerous individuals have called for invoking the 25th Amendment because the president is mentally unfit to govern.

This tweet demonstrates that Trump certainly is delusional: A delusion is an unshakable belief in something untrue. These irrational beliefs defy normal reasoning, and remain firm even when overwhelming proof is presented to dispute them. Delusions are often accompanied by … feelings of paranoia, which act to strengthen confidence in the delusion.

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Trump tweets, and the media dutifully reports it as if it is “news” rather than merely the ravings of a delusional man. Trump Says Republican Memo ‘Totally Vindicates’ Him:

The memo, while trying to paint the origins of the Russia investigation as tainted, did nothing to clear Mr. Trump of either collusion or obstruction — the lines of inquiry being pursued by the special counsel, Robert S. Mueller III.

The memo in fact undermined Republicans’ efforts to cast doubt on the roots of the investigation by confirming that the inquiry was already underway when law enforcement officials obtained a warrant from a secret intelligence court to conduct surveillance on Mr. Page.

The Republican document, which Democrats dismissed as containing cherry-picked information and focusing on an obscure figure in the Trump campaign, confirms that a primary factor in the opening of the investigationin July 2016 was initial contacts between a former Trump foreign policy adviser, George Papadopoulos, and Russian intermediaries.

Renato Mariotti, a former federal prosecutor, writes at the New York Times, The Memo Doesn’t Vindicate Trump. It’s More Proof of Obstruction.

For weeks, allies of President Trump ratcheted up pressure to “release the memo.” The impact, according to supporters, would be monumental: It would shake the F.B.I. “to its core” (Representative Jeff Duncan of South Carolina) or it would reveal abuses “100 times bigger” than what incited the American Revolution (Sebastian Gorka, a former White House official).

The president himself said, after the memo’s release on Friday, that it “vindicates” him in the probe.

But it does no such thing. The memo from House Republicans, led by Representative Devin Nunes, fell well short of the hype. Its main argument is that when the Justice Department sought a warrant to wiretap the former Trump adviser Carter Page, it did not reveal that Christopher Steele — the author of a controversial opposition-research dossier — was funded by the Democratic National Committee and the Hillary Clinton campaign through a law firm.

This is actually a fairly common — and rarely effective — argument made by defendants who seek to suppress evidence obtained by a warrant.

What might be the lasting legacy of the Nunes memo is how President Trump reacted to it. According to reports, Mr. Trump suggested “the memo might give him the justification to fire [the deputy attorney general, Rod Rosenstein] — something about which Trump has privately mused — or make other changes at the Justice Department, which he had complained was not sufficiently loyal to him.”

In fact, Mr. Trump’s approval of the release of the memo and his comments that releasing it could make it easier for him to fire Mr. Rosenstein could help Robert Mueller, the special counsel, prove that Mr. Trump fired James B. Comey, then the F.B.I. director, with a “corrupt” intent — in other words, the intent to wrongfully impede the administration of justice — as the law requires.

After all, Mr. Trump is now aware that he is under investigation for obstruction, and he knows that Mr. Comey said that Mr. Trump wanted “loyalty” from him. Mr. Mueller could argue that the president’s comments that Mr. Rosenstein was not “loyal” and his desire to fire Mr. Rosenstein suggest Mr. Trump’s unlawful intent when he fired Mr. Comey.

The memo also offers the outlines of a broader probable cause case against Mr. Page. The Nunes memo suggests that there was substantial additional evidence, even though it avoids discussing that evidence. The memo indicates that the investigation of Mr. Page began well before the warrant under the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act, or FISA, was sought, and that the Russia investigation was initiated because of the statements of George Papadopoulos.

The warrant was issued and then renewed three separate times. Each time, as is standard in seeking a FISA warrant, a judge reviewed extensive information before issuing it. The fact that the warrant was renewed three times indicates that the F.B.I. obtained useful intelligence each time — a judge wouldn’t have approved a renewal if the prior warrant came up empty. That suggests that once the warrants were issued, they revealed important evidence.

In addition, the timeline set forth in the memo indicates that the FISA warrants were submitted by both the Obama and Trump administrations. The initial surveillance began before Mr. Rosenstein was deputy attorney general, and by the time he was at the Justice Department, he approved renewal applications that were based on the intelligence gathered from the earlier surveillance — not the dossier.

On the issue of bias, whenever the Justice Department seeks a warrant, they must present extensive evidence to a judge, who decides whether to issue the warrant based on that evidence. After the fact, defendants can challenge warrants by arguing that the government recklessly excluded information that would have caused the judge not to sign the warrant.

Courts have repeatedly held that even when the government omitted the criminal history of the informant or the fact that the informant was paid, it didn’t matter unless the omitted information would have caused the judge not to sign the warrant.

The Nunes memo claims to show that the warrant was obtained unlawfully, but there is no way of knowing that without examining the extensive evidence submitted in conjunction with the warrant, which the memo does not do. Given that Mr. Steele was a former intelligence officer, not a flipper with an extensive criminal history, it will be hard to show that a judge would have believed he was lying if the source of his funding was included in the application.

Given how little substance there is to the Nunes memo, the Republicans made a misstep by pushing through its release in a partisan manner. The specter of an unreleased memo was more menacing than the thin allegations revealed in the memo itself, which are hotly disputed by congressional Democrats.

Although at least one Republican maintains that the memo shows that Mr. Rosenstein, Mr. Comey and others committed “treason,” the memo itself does not allege that the F.B.I. or Department of Justice knowingly used false information or even that the information they used was false. Because the allegations in the memo are legally irrelevant, I would be surprised if the memo was more than a short-lived publicity stunt.

This is not the result Mr. Nunes expected when his staff wrote the memo, but that could be its lasting impact.

If anything, Rep. Devin Nunes and his committee staff, and any members of his committee who participated in the drafting of this memo in coordination with the Trump White House — potentially the target of the Special Counsel’s Russia investigation — have exposed themselves to being charged as accessories to aiding and abetting a conspiracy to obstruct justice.

Nunes provided classified information that is part of an active criminal investigation by the Department of Justice to the potential target of the investigation, and then took the target’s response to that classified information to spin an attack on the DOJ’s prosecution case.  That is obstruction of justice.

7 Responses to Delusional Trump says he is ‘vindicated,’ prosecutor says the ‘Nunes Memo’ is more proof of obstruction of justice

  1. Yep. One thing that Trump got right at his Klan rallies…

    Jason
    ‏@JasonHalle
    23h23 hours ago

    DONALD TRUMP said that if I voted for Hilary Clinton I’d be stuck with a criminal President under constant federal investigation from day one.

    TRUMP WAS RIGHT

    I voted for Hilary & I’ve been stuck with a criminal President under constant federal investigation from day one.

  2. Seth Abramson‏Verified account
    @SethAbramson

    KEY POINT: The main allegation in Steele’s dossier *isn’t* that Putin has blackmail on Trump. It’s *money laundering*. The claim is Trump took Russian money via shell corporations in exchange for a more favorable Russia policy. And what’s Mueller looking at now? Money laundering.

    15h15 hours ago

    KEY POINT #2: Bannon says Mueller can get Trump on money laundering. Christie implied Mueller can get Kushner on money laundering. Mueller’s leads look to be on money laundering. Trump hid his returns to hide money laundering. THAT’S why Nunes needs to discredit Steele’s dossier.

    KEY POINT #3: When Nunes invoked a House rule not used in 40 years to attack Steele; when GOP senators referred Steele for criminal prosecution; when Trump declared war on the FBI over Steele; why didn’t US media right then ask, “What’s SO DANGEROUS to Trump in Steele’s dossier?”

    KEY POINT #4: If you ask that question, you get two possible answers:

    (1) BLACKMAIL. Trump has been—and can be—blackmailed over his sexual exploits. 100% believable Putin is doing so, and the CIA agrees (see BBC reporting).

    (2) MONEY LAUNDERING. See prior tweets in this thread.

    KEY POINT #5: If the media were asking the OBVIOUS question before us, two things would happen:

    (1) America would demand to see Trump’s tax returns over his bullshit objections.
    (2) The CIA/BBC report confirming multiple Trump sex tapes would finally get our attention stateside.

    KEY POINT #6: Until the media stops reporting on Trump’s attempts to distract us—and instead looks for PATTERNS—we’ll miss that every action Trump takes seeks to (a) discredit Steele and his dossier, or (b) discredit Mueller to protect against Trump’s other liability—Obstruction.

    (continued)

    • KEY POINT #7: The Nunes Memo was never about the FBI. Why would Trump or Nunes ever *voluntarily select* the FBI as a target? It’s a losing battle. But there’s someone and something so dangerous to Trump that it *requires* warring with the FBI: Christopher Steele and his dossier.

      KEY POINT #8: Here’s how plausible Steele’s info is:

      (1) Trump’s wanted to do business in Russia for 30 years.
      (2) Putin offers him laundered money for pro-Russia policies.
      (3) Trump’s win-win: Russia’s business, plus money.
      (4) He tells himself his Russia policy was *his* idea.

      KEY POINT #9: It’s a simple crime. Trump can always say he would’ve had a pro-Russia policy even if Russian oligarchs *hadn’t* been saving him from bankruptcy, overpaying him on deals by hundreds of millions, and promising him future business for 15 years. Who’ll prove otherwise?

      KEY POINT #10: So now you better understand why Trump told the NYT he’d fire Mueller—basically declare nuclear war on the Constitution—if Mueller looks at his business deals. You understand why he’s been lying about his returns for two years. You understand the attacks on Steele.

      CONCLUSION: The best point I ever heard made on the Trump-Russia probe: How does a bankrupt businessman who can’t get a loan from any bank in America in 2005 manage to get RICHER? You know who says “Russia”? Don Jr., in 2008. Eric Trump, in 2013. That’s right—BOTH his adult sons.

        • For Sure Not Tom

          • For Sure Not Tom

            Nunes is an idiot, the memo makes the case for the Russia investigation.

            His memo actually says that Chris Steele is a known trusted source, and that the investigation was already in progress prior to the Steele dossier.

            Blowing up two Trumpaloompa talking points. I laughed out loud more than reading that thing.

            And it says that the warrants were extended multiple times, meaning they were showing the judges progress on the case.

            Progress meaning evidence of crimes.

            The right wing media, along with Trump, claim that the “dossier” is fake because it was paid for by the Clinton campaign, ignoring that it was started by a conservative group.

            So let me get this straight, if I hate my neighbor, and I see him shoot his wife, and I’m called to testify, the defense can say “FSNT hates my client, and how do we know he’s even Tom!”, and we stop the trial, my neighbor goes home, where he orders a Slovenian model from the internet to be his new squeeze and gets away with his crimes.

            It doesn’t matter who paid for the dossier, the dossier wasn’t the only reason for the FISA warrant, and who paid doesn’t matter if the reason for the FISA warrant is true.

            And didn’t Nunes recuse himself for ethics issues?

            The GOP, no longer the Law and Order Party!

          • Yeah, Nunes is smart enough to be a GOP representative but too dumb to be a con man.