House Intelligence Committee Chairman Devin Nunes, R-Calif., told Fox News on Friday that his investigators have already uncovered evidence of “abuse” in the U.S. government’s surveillance practices.
“I believe there’s evidence that abuses have occurred,” Nunes said in his first interview since the House Ethics Committee dismissed allegations he had wrongly released classified information as part of the panel’s Russia investigation.
“We have had an ongoing investigation into DOJ [Department of Justice] and FBI since mid-summer for both FISA [Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court] abuse and other matters that we can’t get into too much. But it is very concerning.”
I will bet that Trump is waging a much more aggressive war against the Deep State than any of us would believe. That worries me, because a lot of bad dudes have a lot of power at their disposal, and an absolute need to make sure none of it is ever uncovered.
I think we are at a weird place, in between a highly rule-governed, high-trust society, and a totally rule-less, no-trust society. As a result, governmental operation with society is totally rule-less in private, with a thin veneer of rule-governed appearance laid over it, which means the best defense is to play the same game. Case in point, is the investigation of Michael Flynn:
Significantly, the fatal damage done to Mueller’s anti-Trump investigation does not only rest in the fact that defense counsel will be able to conduct an unlubricated prostate examination on the FBI’s key agent at trial. Instead, the real reason why Mueller will not risk a criminal trial is the lasting damage that would be done to the FBI’s reputation by having Strzok’s baggage brought into the daylight.
To expose the agent’s biases, defense counsel would have the opportunity to cross-examine the agent and his apparent mistress, an FBI lawyer who also worked on Mueller’s investigation and the Clinton email probe, about their exchanged messages showing support for Clinton and hostility to Trump. Additionally, the agent’s wife, a high-profile attorney at another federal agency, apparently was a member of several pro-Obama and pro-Clinton Facebook groups and is a follower of a Facebook page called “We Voted for Hillary.”
The case against Flynn was probably fueled by reams of covertly gathered intelligence, some gathered under semi-legitimate, or at least sufficiently legal means, and other intelligence gathered under wholly illegal means.
Notice that the case against Flynn, a pro being targeted by an intelligence machine, doesn’t revolve around facts, or evidence, or crimes. On the one side, it was generated based on illegal wiretaps acquired using a phony dossier, that then led to an impromptu meeting conducted under false pretenses to catch Flynn in a false statement as he thought he was helping national security. It was all a plan, begun with a goal to convict him, and then constructed, step by step, to achieve it.
On Flynn’s side, the motivations are more murky. He had to know his opposition’s play. I suspect he could have blackmailed his way out of it. He had to know everything he had done was documented by various agencies, and any incorrect statement would back him in a corner. And at the least he should have known to never talk to a Federal agent without a lawyer present, especially as he took on the machine. You suspect that he is playing his own game.
But now, if he were to fight this, his defense would have nothing to do with facts or evidence, or even crime. His best defense is to expose the illegalities of the agency which has targeted him, to blackmail them into submission. He can probe the origins and the extent of the surveillance that targeted him, find embarrassing information about the agency which ran the investigation, or threaten to give an interview and expose things he knows that the government wouldn’t want exposed.
This, like r/K, is a spectrum. For now, the thin veneer of legitimacy means most intelligence gathered ends up being shelved since it can’t be used in the system if legitimacy is to be maintained. Those like Flynn who do get targeted can find leverage to resist based on everyone’s desire to maintain the façade as well. But as we progress along the spectrum in the direction we are going, at some point the thin veneer will give way, and at that point people will be shocked at how the game is played, and how it was being played all along.