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EDITOR'S DESK (general topics): Was Watergate at all like 'Dossier-gate' ?

By Kenyon Jordan

Feb. 4, 2018
       Probably like most of you, I follow national politics. Still, I've never liked the idea of using this column space to sort through those thickets. Hundreds of often-capable writers/pundits do it for a living, on both sides of the political fence. I prefer to focus on my immediate part of the world, the Colorado Springs Westside.
       That being said, I find this whole thing with the Foreign Service Intelligence Act (FISA) memo by the U.S. House Investigation Committee very interesting. Why

shouldn't the public view a document that reveals relevant political facts without clearly jeopardizing national security? It's our country, isn't it?
       In following the issue, I have heard a few pundits compare the six-page memo's findings to the Watergate scandal - in which a political party acted illegally in hopes of gaining political advantage over the opposition party in a presidential election, and ensuing investigations revealed complicity among government officials. Others refuse to consider a Watergate comparison. So I thought, where is the truth in this?
       Below is an attempt to summarize both Watergate and the memo matter (“Dossier-gate”?) and leave it at that for now. If you want to read the six-page memo itself, you can find it on The Federalist website at this link.
       Watergate: The scandal started with criminal attempts by supporters of Republican President Richard Nixon during his 1972 re-election campaign to obtain proprietary political information by burglarizing and wiretapping the Democratic National Committee headquarters in Washington, D.C. There were two burglaries. In the second, five burglars were apprehended, leading to eventual investigations by the FBI and Congress.
      
This is Page 1 of the six-page memo by the U.S. House Investigation Committee. It's also been described as a four-page memo, because the first two pages are introductory.
Courtesy of the U.S. House Investigation Committee
The issue was compounded by Nixon's efforts to protect his people, thwart investigators and cover up what happened.
       The press was initially lukewarm on the story, but breakthroughs by the Washington Post helped shed light on the affair, which would eventually cost Nixon his presidency.
       Dossier-gate: The House FISA memo states that during Hillary Clinton's 2016 presidential campaign, her organization and the Democratic National Committee paid a former FBI source to produce a document (the dossier) derogatory to Clinton's opponent, Republican nominee Donald Trump. One of the document's allegations was that Trump was colluding with Russia to help him win the election.
       Although the FBI conceded that the dossier's information was unsubstantiated, it was the primary evidence the agency presented to convince judges to approve FISA applications allowing the electronic targeting of Carter Page, a member of the Trump campaign team. The FBI did not tell the judges where the dossier came from or that Christopher Steele, the dossier author, had a strong anti-Trump bias.
       The memo additionally notes that some high-ranking FBI officials with strong ideological feelings against Trump were involved in the FISA-obtaining effort.
       Last May, about a half-year after Trump's election, the FBI initiated Robert Mueller's special-counsel investigation into the president's alleged Russian collusion. This probe has so far revealed no such evidence, but has implicated a few people who've previously worked with Trump on unrelated allegations. Carter Page himself has not been charged with a crime.
       One of the FISA-application signers against Page was Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein, who hired Mueller. Another was former FBI Director James Comey, who Trump fired last spring.
       The press has mostly been lukewarm on Dossier-gate, even suggesting that it represents partisan interference with the collusion investigation, but breakthroughs by Fox News are helping shed light on the affair, and we are told that more information will emerge before long.

(Opinion: Editor's Desk)

       Kenyon Jordan is the editor of the Westside Pioneer.


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