Maneuverings February 2, 2018

TheWeekinCongress.com Summary

For the week ending February 2, 2018

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Maneuverings –

A need for a budget, the promised immigration reform debate, and the DACA fix coming up quickly to deadline it would seem that this week was mostly about the Trump investigation and the House Intel Committee’s effort to prove a series of conspiracy theories none of which have panned out.

DACA-

The Deferred Action against Child Arrivals, a program deferring deportation of children brought to the US as children and who are now employed or in college is due to expire next months and has become something of a bargaining chip by the White House in exchange for $25 billion to build the wall on the southern border.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) has said he will bring an immigration bill to the Senate during the week beginning February 5th. The have about two weeks to get it done before the program expires and they take a week break third week February.

Debt Limit Increase –

The downside to the recent tax reform legislation is that the Congressional Budget Office has advised Congress that due to the drop in tax revenue because of the recent passed Tax Reform and Jobs Act.

CBO said this’ “Because the tax legislation reduced individual income taxes for most taxpayers, the Internal Revenue Service released new income tax withholding tables for employers to use beginning no later than the middle of February 2018. As a result of those changes, CBO now estimates that, starting in February, withheld amounts of individual income taxes will be roughly $10 billion to $15 billion per month less than anticipated before the new law was enacted. Consequently, withheld receipts are expected to be less than the amounts paid in the comparable period last year. In addition, the government ran a deficit of $23 billion in December, and it normally runs a deficit in the second quarter of the fiscal year.”

Those Investigations –

We do not know all the details of the four page memo House Intelligence Committee Chair Devin Nunes (R-CA) had crafted based on high level intelligence gathering. What we do know is that the memo highlights what memo supporters believe was malfeasance on the part of the FBI when it requested a renewal of an existing Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) warrant to surveille Carter Page, a former Trump foreign policy advisor.

Page has a long history of doing business and visiting Russia and somewhere along the line (before Trump ran for office) the FBI believed there was probable cause to conduct a surveillance on him as a possible Russian agent. The effort was discontinued but something happened to request the renewal towards the end of the 2016 campaign when Page was an advisor to Trump.

Nunes, Committee Republicans and many other Republicans believe that the application for the FISA was nothing more than an attempt to undermine the Trump candidacy and was based on information in the ‘Dossier’ provided by former MI-6 agent Christopher Steele of London. As Steele performed his information gathering he came upon data that caused him to think the Russians may have something on Trump and so he informed the FBI. It turned out that a good bit of the information in the ‘Dossier’ was already gathered by the FBI. Nunes and his supporters hold that the ‘Dossier’ was unsubstantiated but was used to get the warrant so to undermine Trump.

The House Intelligence Committee voted on party lines to release the document to the public despite its highly classified nature. When Committee Democrats made a motion to require all members of the Committee to actually read the intelligence behind the memo’s assertions they voted the motion down. When Committee Democrats moved to produce and distribute a memo disputing the Nunes memo that too was voted down.

The memo can be declassified by Trump who has received it, reportedly read it, and wants it released. The release date is supposed to be Friday February 2nd.

This is yet another round that many are concluding is an effort by Nunes, House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-WI-1) and the White House to muddy the public waters regarding the investigation being conducted by Robert Mueller and to give Trump something with which he can claim his innocence (All untrue because I was investigated by a politicized FBI) and hand out pardons if Mueller and the courts find someone guilty Trump likes.

The information in the memo has a curious act to gin up considering it is at least the third effort to cast aspersions on the Justice Department as it conducts an investigation into Russian meddling in the 2016 campaign and has indicted two and got guilty pleas from two other former Trump advisors.

The first conspiracy theory was that Clinton was somehow involved in a thing called Uranium One whereby Russia can purchase nuclear materials in the US. The deal was reviewed by at least three government agencies as is protocol. Clinton had nothing to do with it. Next up was the suspicion that FBI agent Peter Strzok showed bias towards Trump and while working on the Clinton email scandal texted or emailed comments disparaging Trump. Further inspection of those texts showed he had made disparaging comments about Democrat candidates, too. We also learned that he drafted the Comey letter to Congress regarding the newly found Clinton emails to her aid Uma Abedin and those emails may have ended up on the computer of Anthony Wiener a former Congressman recently jailed for lewd texting with an underage girl. Strzok had pressed to continue the Clinton investigation which ended when the new emails were reviewed and found not to b damning.

Then the Committee discovered some five months of emails from Strzok were missing. The Justice Attorney General now has those emails and is reviewing them.

And now Nunes, Mike Conaway, Trey Gowdy, Tom Rooney and Paul Ryan have thrown caution to the wind and along with a desperate Trump are putting the lives, literally the lives, of US and friendly foreign agents at risk by disclosing information that any intelligence agency can look over and figure out where the information came from.

There is an old saying among investigators ‘If you think you know what happened you will probably never find it.” In other words Rep Devin Nunes and the House Intelligence Committee are barking up a tree.

The FBI has told Nunes and Trump that releasing the memo is reckless. More specifically the FBI wrote referring to its concern that the memo included “…material omissions of fact that fundamentally impact the memo’s accuracy.”

Should Trump release the memo TheWeekinCongress.com will report it to you as soon as we get it.

The Senate and House are adjourning and will return to work on Monday February 5th.

The next edition of TheWeekinCongress.com will be published o Thursday evening February 8th.

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