House Speaker Paul D. Ryan’s last year in office is proving disastrous, a fitting end to the speakership of a man once considered a principled conservative reformer. His refusal to fulfill his constitutional role as leader of the House but rather play the role of presidential poodle and Republican attack dog for his increasingly unhinged caucus has had dire consequences for the GOP House majority, the intelligence oversight process and the broader conservative movement.
Among his most egregious failures has been his refusal to rein in House Intelligence Committee Chairman Devin Nunes (R-Calif.), who, in concert with the White House, created a phony “unmasking” scandal and released a misleading memo casting aspersions on the FBI and the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court in connection with the warrant to conduct surveillance on suspected spy Carter Page. As Nunes’s crowd, together with the president, now threatens to reveal a secret FBI and CIA source, in an unprecedented breach of the House’s intelligence oversight responsibilities, the extent of Ryan’s reckless disregard for his oath becomes clear.
The Post reports on the role of a retired American professor who cooperated with U.S. intelligence in investigating highly questionable contacts between Russian and the Trump campaign:
The role played by the source is now at the center of a battle that has pitted President Trump against his own Justice Department and fueled the president’s attacks on the special counsel’s investigation. … There is no evidence to suggest someone was planted with the campaign. The source in question engaged in a months-long pattern of seeking out and meeting three different Trump campaign officials.
The Washington Post — after speaking with people familiar with his role — has confirmed the identity of the FBI source who assisted the investigation, but is not reporting his name following warnings from U.S. intelligence officials that exposing him could endanger him or his contacts.
There is no evidence the FBI behaved improperly. (“The FBI commonly uses sources and informants to gather evidence and its regulations allow for use of informants even before a formal investigation has been opened. In many law enforcement investigations, the use of sources and informants precedes more invasive techniques such as electronic surveillance.”)
Indeed, had the FBI failed to follow up on evidence that a presidential campaign was engaged in secret communications with a foreign government, it would have been excoriated for dereliction of duty. Moreover, none of this was revealed during the campaign— in stark contrast to the airing of the allegations against Hillary Clinton for misuse of email, an action that looks downright trivial in comparison with a far-flung Russian plot to boost Trump, a scheme that at critical points was eagerly greeted by top members of the Trump campaign. (Trump himself of course publicly encouraged the hacking of the Democratic National Committee and John Podesta’s emails and made hay out of them in the closing days of the campaign.)