A friend of mine has served many years at the DOJ and FBI and he — like many others — has served America with integrity. But the “Nunes memo” chronicles how at the highest levels of the FBI and DOJ, it was acceptable to purposefully and consistently mislead the FISA Court in pursuit of a petty political vendetta. Misleading a judge and side-stepping Constitutional and legal requirements to obtain a warrant is not a technicality. This sort of brazen abuse of government power and violation of the Constitution is a crime. And it shakes the very foundation of a free society where government has constitutional limits and individuals have constitutional rights.
Without approving of such behavior, the truth is society can survive if a few government employees cheat the taxpayer by obtaining reimbursements to which they are not entitled. But society cannot survive if those in the government believe they can use and abuse government power and violate the law and the Constitution to target unpopular individuals. Such actions violate the rule of law and fracture the very foundations of our civil society.
A judge who is lied to, or misled by an attorney can hold the unethical attorney in contempt of court and jail and fine him. When an officer of the court misleads the court, he works a fraud upon the court. Federal law (18 U.S. Code § 1001) makes it a crime punishable by jail to lie and misrepresent facts to a judge. Likewise federal law (18 U.S. Code § 1505) defines obstruction of justice as anyone who “willfully withholds, misrepresents … or by other means falsifies any documentary material… or oral testimony” like a FISA warrant application provided to a judge. Our legal system and our constitutional republic will collapse if it becomes acceptable for law enforcement officials at the highest levels to commit frauds upon the court so that constitutional rights can be trampled.
Those who argue that it was just an honest mistake are ignoring the overwhelming evidence. Numerous times and in numerous ways high officials at the FBI and the DOJ actively misled the court. This could not have been an honest mistake or an accidental omission. It was highly calculated and clearly purposeful. Even the foot-dragging and later strenuous objections to answering Congressional questions suggests that they knew what they were doing was illegal and were simply trying to get away with it.
The memo shows that at least a few officials at the top of the DOJ and the FBI had a political agenda that was more important to them than the rule of law or due process or constitutional limits on government abuses. They were not pursuing justice. They were not following the law. They were abusing the law to obtain a political outcome. In this case, justice wasn’t blind, it was dishonest, fraudulent, targeted and abusive.
If the memo were in fact a “nothing burger” as some partisans allege, its release would not have been so vigorously and shrilly opposed by the very bad actors at the FBI and DOJ whose illegal behavior it revealed. It is not a coincidence that there was a massive political campaign to bury the memo; or that those who engaged in this campaign were either those who broke the law or their allies in Congress and the press who share their political agenda. If the memo really were nothing important, few would have objected. And the claims that it endangers national security are painfully and self-evidently silly and made by people who in many cases are known leakers themselves and whose record for truth is poor at best.
Moreover, the strategic withholding of important and relevant information about the memo’s credibility and trading on the past credibility of a former FBI informant — when in this instance his credibility and the credibility of the dossier were both highly doubtful — proves the ill-intent. It was a criminal act to hide this information from the court. And it explains the massive coverup attempts and the shrill attacks — all of which smack of obstruction of justice.
This is an undeniable truth — the DOJ and the FBI had both a legal and a moral obligation to disclose to the FISA Court the full truth. Repeatedly and calculatedly misleading the judge is proof of their unconstitutional and illegal intentions. A free society cannot long endure where those entrusted with the awesome powers of the federal government believe they can manipulate the law and our Constitution and use fraud to advance their personal political aims.
It is sad that so many on the Left act as if the illegal actions at the DOJ and FBI do not matter. This cynical abuse of the Constitution and the law is shameful. Who can doubt the outrage from the Left IF President Trump’s DOJ and FBI were to use fraudulent documents to obtain wiretaps to spy on political adversaries. I would join in their outrage. An American’s support for the Constitution should never be based on whether you’re pro-Trump or pro-Republican or if you’re anti-Trump and anti-Republican. Trying to circumvent the Constitution’s protections is wrong — not because President Trump or Republicans were the target — but because it violates the law and the Constitution and endangers liberty for us all.
In the Watergate scandal, Republicans in Congress did the principled thing — regardless of partisan politics. They sided with the rule of law over the sitting Republican President who shortly thereafter resigned. Sadly, today Democrats in Congress and many in the media reveal that they do not care about the rule of law — they only care about pursuing a bitter partisan agenda and are happy to trash the Constitution to pursue their petty political scheme. If they succeed, they may destroy the very fabric and foundation of our constitutional republic. They may be pursuing their partisan goals, but in the process, they are degrading America — the greatest constitutional republic in history — into just another banana republic.
Every decent American should stand-up for the rule of law and the Constitution. No one can credibly argue that misleading a judge and strategically omitting important information to obtain a warrant is acceptable. It is an assault on American values and our constitutional rights. You may or may not like Trump. That is your right. But if you support violating the Constitution and trashing the rule of law just because you don’t like Trump, you’re a poor excuse for an American and hardly worthy of the freedoms you enjoy.