Discredited Nincompoop Nunes Is (Slightly) Vindicated

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S1: I cannot swear to you that there is swearing on this show, but there might be. It’s the kind of behavior I engage in.

S2: It’s Wednesday, December 11th, 2019 from slated to the gist. I’m Mike PESCA. So Israel will have another set of elections because they can’t decide anything. So whenever you try to defend Israel by pointing out, you know, it’s the Middle East’s only democracy, which is less true than maybe it used to be, Lebanon is doing OK. Iraq can lay claim to being a democracy in the Middle East, but it’s the oldest and most functional democracy.

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S3: The obvious go to counter argument is, oh, Israel isn’t really a democracy. They prevent much of their Palestinian population from becoming citizens and voting. But I think three elections and an inability to actually form a government that really does show you’re a democracy. Democracy is much less of a good thing than we all thought. I don’t know, 10, 20, 30 years ago when I was a kid. Democracy was good. Now it’s sort of a symptom of a headache. We’ve got a democracy here in America. And a lot of our problem isn’t that the will of the people is being ignored. It’s that the will of the people is being followed. We don’t have greenhouse gas emissions, prison overpopulation, a regressive tax code favoring cars over mass transit and the entire career of Jim Jordan, because we’re ignoring voters. We have all that stuff because we’re listening to them. Now, let’s take this sad case at the top court.

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S4: Is the United Nations. A rare legal test unfolds. A Nobel Peace Prize laureate and former human rights icon fights accusations of genocide in San Suu Kyi is defending her country, Myanmar, from charges of genocide.

S3: That, by the way, is the correct term for the actions that Myanmar has taken against their Rohingya population. So how is it how is it that this brave icon of democracy has turned so on iconic? I’ll give you the answer. It’s democracy. The first step in securing human rights is to make sure your people are represented. But once your people have their say. Everyone except the most exceptional leader. Let’s think Mandela will normally keep on listening to their people. And we realize over and over again that a sense of nationalism might be a good first step in getting democracy. But then the propulsive effects of nationalism can use democracy in all the worst ways. Trump Brexit Ballston †due to her Htay Aung San Suu Kyi. They’re all more popular than might be popularly imagined. On the show today, Pete Bhuta JEJ, he is a favorite of a lot of former Obama staffers. He’s drawn comparisons, at least rhetorically, to the style of the former president. Here’s another comparison. So after graduating from Columbia, what did Obama do? You pry thinking to yourself? Community organizer No, not right out of the gate. He worked as a researcher at the Business International Corporation. I will now read from Wikipedia. Business International Corporation was a publishing and advisory firm dedicated to assisting American companies and operating abroad. It had ties to the Central Intelligence Agency. And now today we find out that when he worked at McKinsey, Pete Boudia JEJ had ties to a Canadian grocery store. Still could have been the CIA. A lot of people not Lango with that. That’s the spiel. But first, do you remember the Nunez memo? Oh, I’ll take you back to January. Twenty eighteen. Hashtag released the memo. Released the Nunez memo. That was when House Intel Committee Chairman Devin Nunez was accusing the FBI of improperly investigating Donald Trump, specifically his associate, Carter Page. It was based on lies. That was the big deal at the time was widely dismissed. Well, yeah, because he’s Nunez, but I got to think of that. Nunez memo again, because Inspector General Michael Horowitz has issued a huge report which found fault with, though ultimately justified, the f.b.i.’s use of FISA warrants to track Carter Page. So soon, conservative outlets like the Federalist began claiming this vindicated Devin Nunez. I was searching for a sober rebuttal or even a sober confirmation from an informed, reliable source. And I could find nothing. Claim absence of a counterclaim.

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S2: It’s extremely frustrating. I went out and found my own answers from Lawfare as Ben Whittis.

S3: Up next, if I have to be honest and I don’t, it’s not a job requirement.

S5: But if I want and I do listen to a lot of other podcast and they’re not always but if I want to be honest, I want to look at Devin Nunez and the famous infamous Nunez memo. Remember this? Oh, all the hashtags released the memo. Devin Nunez, the discredited nincompoop per my construction who is chair was chair was acting chair of the House Intel Committee, put together a memo that was released that basically accused the FBI of dirty pool in its. Castigation of the president in Gidding and reauthorizing FISA warrants. But now we have an inspector general’s report by Horowitz that confirms a bunch of at least in the direction of what Nunez was alleging. This has created in me and maybe you if you’ve been looking or considering it. This has created a lot of angst because Ken, the guy that I’ve been calling a discredited nincompoop. Can he really be slightly less discredited? There are other things to discredit him. Can he be less discredited than I allege? There is the best person to talk about this with me. He’s been with a senior fellow at Brookings. Editor in chief of the Lawfare blog. And I guess a long time Nunez watcher. Hello, Ben. Thanks for coming on.

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S6: That’s the first time that phrase has ever been used to describe me.

S5: You are known as watcher. You can help. You can’t look away, Kanya.

S7: I guess I could call myself a viewed as a threat here to a known.

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S5: Yes. So if I were to read the Lawfare headlines and I subscribe to this way of thinking of it. Can the FISA clean up the Nunez memo, mess up the timeline of the House Intel Committee chairman? All the Nunez that’s fit to print. That’s actually pretty clever. It was worse than you think. The House Intelligence meeting on the Nunez memo. First question, does this I.G. Report vindicate the Nunez memo?

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S7: Vindicate. No. Does it suggest that Nunez was onto something that had significant elements of reality to it? Yes.

S5: OK. Let’s be fair. What are we. Does that surprise us? We we the collective wisdom, I think, of the people watching this pretty much portrayed the Nunez memo as an entirely discredited document. Is it less discredited than we thought?

S7: Well, all right. So let’s and I have not gone back and reread it in light of the ISG report. And so I don’t. But but look, let’s remember that there were aspects of the Nunez memo that were completely untethered from reality. Right. And that in you know, for example, that the Nunez memo contended that there was no disclosure in the FISA application for whom Chris Steele was doing the work, when, in fact, there was a substantial footnote of that. So there are aspects of the Nunez memo that are simply false. That said, if the question is, was Nunez alleging that there were substantial problems in the Carter page, phizer, including that it was overreliant on Chris Steele and that it did not adequately disclose reasons to be suspicious or skeptical of the things that Chris Steele was saying that is consistent with the findings that the I.G. Has has made. And those findings are a significant problem for the bureau. And, you know, reflects a genuine deficit in the bureau’s performance in this case. And I think to the extent that Newt has flagged that, if only by accident early on. I’m sure he he he is correct about that.

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S5: Yeah. And I’ll read, quote, direct quote from the I.G. Report and then contrast it with a direct quote from the Nunez memo. The ISG report said that the FBI did not abuse the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act process or, quote, omit material information. OK, so the ISG report did not omit material information. Here is the quote from the Nunez memo. Our findings indicate that as described below, material and relevant information was admitted. So you’re right, it can not be considered just on that basis alone. If direct contradiction cannot be considered a vindication. But again, I mean, let’s look back at what we did and why we did it about the Nunez memo and his the process that he tried to get it out was certainly weird and probably improper. And also, he came to conclusions that were far ahead of his facts. But did we in the media do anything wrong in our wholesale mockery and dismissal of the issues raised?

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S7: Well, so first of all, I mean, I think what some of us I don’t know if I count is in the media. But what some of us said at the time is to the extent that there are questions about how this was done. We have processes like an inspector general to look into them. And I think, you know, my colleague Susan Hennessey and I wrote an amicus brief to the FISA court saying, hey, to the extent that. There are any problems. Could you could you please let us know? And so my view is coming out swinging with, you know, broad false claims that turn out to contain elements of truth. Ah, I guess you get to claim a certain vindication in that. But the to me, the preferred way to do it would be to say, let’s avail ourselves of the processes that we have, like, for example, the inspector general process to examine questions and find out the actual answers to them rather than the bomb throwing, kind of write a memo that contains some outlandishly false statements and actually contains some what turned out to be true statements. And so I I guess my. Did we did we take Devin Nunez not seriously enough? No. I think he’s a genuinely unserious person. And so I feel perfectly comfortable with with having been. You know, uninterested in the conclusions, first investigation, second style that Devin Nunez engaged in. And by the way, I you know, the fact that some aspects of those conclusions turned out to be correct doesn’t especially bother me.

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S5: Now, at the same time, as the Nunez memo was released, the dueling memo, the dueling interpretation was put forward by Adam Schiff and the Federalist. Mollie Hemingway has a story about this ISG report confirms Schiff memo media praised was riddled with lies. What do we think of the Schiff memo now in light of the ISG report?

S7: So on that one, I am actually going to punt a little bit, I think, because I just as I haven’t gone back and re-read the Devin Nunes memo. I have not gone back and re-read the chef memo either. And so, you know, my impression of it at the time was pretty favorable in the sense that it seemed like a a sober and serious document at the time that Devin Nunez was being un sober and unserious. And that said, I, you know, would have to sort of sit down with it with some care in light of the i.g.’s findings and, you know, figure out whether it was a reasonable thing to say at the time based on what was known, but has things in it that are not true in light of what we’ve learned or whether it was reasonable then and reasonable now, or whether it was unreasonable then and unreasonable now.

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S5: OK. Some of the claims in the memo, just tell me if the I.G. Report bears this out. The FBI conducted a rigorous process to vet Steele’s allegations. Is that a defensible statement?

S7: Well, I think that that is a statement that the that the ISG report, certainly in light of its investigation contradicts OK.

S5: And the DOJ made only narrow use of information from Steele’s sources about pages specific activities in 2016.

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S7: I think that’s a little bit more complicated. So there is a fairly broad use of material from Steele. There is also a lot of other material. And so I think that’s kind of a. Look, Steele was an important component of that application. And whether one wants to characterize it that way or not, I I would not characterize it that way. But I think that’s sort of more in the Department of Judgment call than than than fact.

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S3: Yes. So broadly speaking, the critics of the process, the defenders of the president, the those claiming Noonan’s vindication. Schiff riddled with lies, are advancing a story that without the Steele dossier, there’d be no original FISA application, which I recommend people listen to your latest Lawfare podcast bit just total explode that. But the second part, without the Steele dossier, there wouldn’t be the repeated reauthorizations of the FISA warrant. How true is that?

S7: Well, so, look, I think the this is a very important distinction. And I think it is fair to say that, first of all, the I.G.

S6: Does not say that it was wrong to rely on reporting from Chris Steele. Mm hmm. Right.

S7: What it what he says is that reasons to be skeptical of it. Reasons to be concerned. And new information that arose about Chris Steele was not communicated to the Justice Department and therefore not advised to the court. And so this problem gets progressively more and more serious. The farther you go and the more such information there is now, there are a substantial number of omissions in the original application. And then there are a substantial number more in the renewal. So the problem is worse in the renewals than it is in the original application. That said, he does not conclude that the, you know, taking all that stuff together, the like, if all the if all the information that should have been corrected was corrected and if all the information that was admitted had been included, that there wouldn’t be a viable application as an initial matter or that there wouldn’t be viable renewal. He doesn’t address. He makes a point, actually, of not weighing in on that question. And so I do think on that, you know. Both sides can sort of what one side can say correctly that you ifis up process and in the Carter page phizer was severely defective and it raised a question about the integrity of the applications. And the other side can say there is no finding that the application was at the end of the day, inadequate. And, you know, that’s the kind of question, I guess eventually to the court itself may have some something to say on that subject, but it may not. And I think at the end of the day, that’s, you know, a kind of question that people are just going to go to their corners about. I do think what we should all be able to agree on is that this is not the way the FISA process should work. And the sense in which I do think Devin Nunez is correct is, you know, to the extent that these kind of mistakes happened and they did appear to have happened, and to the extent that that is not the FISA process for which people, whether you’re big defenders of the president or opponents of the president, that is not the FISA process for which we should hope. And to the extent that Devin Nunes flag that even if it’s a sort of stop clock. Right. Twice a day kind of situation, I don’t think we should not take it seriously because Devin Nunez flagged it.

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S5: Benjamin Whittis, editor in chief of the Lawfare blog and senior editor at the Brookings Institution. Thank you so much, Ben.

S8: Been a pleasure.

S9: And now the schpiel, unlike his time in Afghanistan. Pete Bhuta JEJ is getting a lot of incoming on the campaign trail. Fair enough. He wants to be president even if he’s like go a week, week and a half out of diapers. He’s less than half the age. I want to point out of Joe Biden, though. If Bridget is elected president on election day, he’ll be 39 and a day, which will put him at exactly half the age of Joe Biden. And then if he lasts a year, he’ll be more than half the age of Joe Biden. And we won’t be able to say anything then about age and experience. I mean, age. I’m more than half the age of Joe Biden experience. I have been president for a year. Have you not been paying attention to Mike’s hypothetical? But people are less impressed by what bruited JEJ did to get there. If he does get there, but a judge is mayor of a town too small to care about, served in the Navy in a deployment to save, to matter, and worked for McKinsey Consulting, a company to nefarious, to accept. I mean, all of those things actually seem fine to me, some of them really quite laudable. But then again, I’m not the kind of person who loses my kakkar over a picture of Pete Budo JEJ volunteering for the Salvation Army. Pete Bhuta JEJ volunteered for the homophobic Salvation Army, went the headline in Out magazine against the homophobic. Salvation Army is an elite unit within the regular Salvation Army. They’re like the SEALs. But you know, Let’s Get Out magazine wrote, quote, Twenty seventeen photos resurfaced of candidate Pete Buddah JEJ spotted outside South Bend, Indiana restaurant Peg’s Buthe Jej was there for the red kettle ring off, during which local public officials collect donations to the Salvation Army, something he’s apparently been doing for years. He even held a mayoral event at a Salvation Army center in South Bend last year. Out goes on to say, Once Twitter got a hold of the photos, the roasting began and they document the roasting this way. They quote a tweet from a guy named Eric Shorey, a pop culture blogger for at Rolling Stone at vice. and out Pitchfork. Here is the extent of pop culture blogger Eric Schori’s criticism. Quote, l.o.l fucking dumb ass. Thank you. That was edifying. The next quote in this out article was a Twitter user, Father Pessimist’s, whose Twitter bio describes him as a leftist frie gay trash boy. Father Pessimist’s argued about Pete Budo jej volunteering. Pete butI chug belike like trans rights on the streets, but Salvation Army in the sheets. The idiom is in the streets and in the sheets. Pathetic. Well, I do have to report and I did report this, that these days Salvation Army also be like trans rights in the streets. They quoted a spokesman for the Salvation Army noting that the Salvation Army now has a Las Vegas dorm that exists exclusively for transgender individuals. A San Francisco detox facility for patients with HIV AIDS and the Salvation Army works with transgender sex trafficking victims in Baltimore. Out magazine goes on to write of the latest Salvation Army. Forays into helping the gay and trans community, quote, and while all that’s admirable, it’s still fighting against decades of persecution and intolerance justified by religion. And I don’t think the author means those words in that exact way. But the point is clear the Salvation Army was once homophobic. That is absolutely true. And therefore, the most prominent ever presidential candidate who is gay deserves criticism for helping them raise money for the poor and the hungry.

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S3: OK, but that’s not what I’m really here to talk about. I’m here to talk about the revelations today. It’s about people. Buddha judges time with the consulting firm McKinsey. A judge had signed a non-disclosure agreement during his time there, and he was not allowed to get into details of what he’d done. Though he did write generally about his experience in his memoir, Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot interviewed Pete Bhuta JEJ during a recent campaign event and put forward a suggestion.

S10: You said you can’t talk about your work at McKinsey because of a nondisclosure agreement. You think said today that you’ve got to honor your commitment to McKinsey. I’m asking you, should you break that NDA so that you have the moral authority and the high ground against somebody like Trump who hides behind the lack of transparency to justify everything that he’s doing.

S3: So to gain the moral high ground against Trump, notorious for breaking contracts and not being true to his word. Pete booted Jed should break his contract and not be true to his word, mayor. But a judge did not take this advice. Instead, he got McKinsey to release him from the NDA. Now, by way of background, here’s what leftist circles were whispering and then just flat out saying about booted judges time at McKinsey.

S11: I’ll be a bit late. And then and then he joined McKinsey in and then we’re learning about that. And I was like, holy shit. Like just joining up with one of the most evil outfits imaginable. And then when it first started happening, people started saying that the response was, oh, come on. The only account he worked on was like a regional grocery chain. OK, well, it turns out that’s the reason we know about that is because everything else he did for McKinsey is covered by an NDA. And what he did for them was blood curdling shit out. Yes, as Felix said, promoting security and economic development in a war zone. If you can read that sentence and not just see CIA on it, I don’t know what he.

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S3: He went in the cheapo trap house. Fellahs were wrong about one thing. Well, besides him being in the CIA, they were wrong. The NDA actually did cover the regional grocery chain though. Buthe JEJ in my interview with him, for instance, did talk a lot about his interest in grocery store pricing and what Bhuta JEJ now released from his NDA did reveal was a list of clients which included different U.S. government agencies Blue Cross and a Canadian grocery chain, specifically Loblaws. So faced with details that derailed a pretty extreme theory did booted judges. Most ideological critics say, OK, we were we were wrong to have jumped to those conclusions, but it is in principle good to have full disclosure so the public can judge a candidate’s past. They did not. They doubled down. In fact, Jacobins Luke Savage came after him specifically on the bread issue. Loblaws admitted to having illegally fixed bread prices over a 14 year period. The scheme’s duration coincides with Bhuta Judge’s time there. And he said in the past that his specialization was grocery pricing. Exclamation Loblaws actually issued a statement that a judge did not have anything to do with bread gate. Bread gate, by the way, began in 2001 when Bhuta Jej was an undergraduate at Harvard. Although Harvard admitted to excluding women from their social clubs and discriminating against Asians in admissions and the Unabomber went to Harvard. How about that, Pete?

S1: So yeah, the way it’s being treated is that bruited JEJ and Loblaws? Well, turns out it’s even worse than the extraordinary rendition charges and black ops scenarios that Bridges’s opponents had envisioned. I mean, this the guy worked in bread pricing or not. I mean, this is a potential disqualifier, isn’t it, for booted judges, rivals. This is just manna from heaven. Or at least Ottowa and. Wait, hold on. Turns out there’s also a link between Loblaws and the Trump administration. Remember this guy from Arrested Development?

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S12: You don’t need double talk. You need Bob, blah, blah, blah, blah, blah, blah, blah.

S1: Bob Loblaw played by Scott beo and hooted Scott Bayo Indorse. You might remember this from the Republican National Convention.

S13: Television director and actor from the sitcom Happy Days, Scott Bayo.

S1: Yes. Yes. It’s all coming true. This is the massive conspiracy that makes giving to the Salvation Army look well, obviously still horribly shameful and inexcusable. The far left cannot understand how anyone likes Pete. butI jej. I mean, he worked for McKinsey because he wanted to make money. But he didn’t like it because it wasn’t satisfying. I mean, who could relate to that? And then at 23, he worked for a grocery store where bread was pricier than it should have been. I mean, maybe it didn’t work for the CIA, but worked for the CIA’s carbs, inordinately expensive. You know, even if Americans don’t punish him for this one. Can you imagine this guy’s first international trip to Canada, where he’s definitely going to be confronted by pre obese Canadians who will tell him, you know, if the bread were cheaper, I might have been able to put on that extra 15 pounds and qualify for bariatric surgery? How dare you, sir? There are plenty of reasons to dislike Pete Bhuta JEJ for his stances, or as I have done here on this show, to worry about his youth and inexperience.

S3: These revelations, the ones I’ve cited, these are not among those reasons. If you want to criticize Bhuta JEJ, but also be fair about it. I’d say take a breath, maybe make a sandwich or some toast and admit the McKinsey disclosures are pretty much nothing. Any way you slice it.

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S2: And that’s it for today’s show that just was produced by Daniel Schrader, who in light of the somewhat reconsideration of discredited nincompoop.

S14: Devin Nunez has been rethinking if unconscionable, drama queen Lori Loughlin might not actually be unconscionable. Might be conscionable Christina to Joseph just producer is wondering if disgraceful historic fumble faced Prince Phillip, the second of Spain might have had some good traits. Maybe the fists didn’t fumble away everything. The gist? We are stuck on the question. Incomprehensible blabbermouth Jeanine Pirro might be not going to say comprehensible, but maybe she’s not 100 percent reprehensible.

S12: My title for Hillary Clinton’s new book, instead of What Happened, is Living in Denial and in need of A La Bottom Me.

S1: OK. Still reprehensible. We’ll protect her. Do Peru. And thanks for listening.