'All smoke, no fire': Law professor dissects Nunes memo and finds it 'punts' when it comes to facts
House Intelligence Committee Chairman Devin Nunes (R-CA) speaking outside the White House. Image via screengrab.

Joining the chorus of legal and political experts deriding House Intelligence Committee Chairman Devin Nunes' (R-CA) dud memo is law professor Orrin S. Kerr, who said the four-page document is "more confusing than illuminating."


In his Saturday op-ed for The New York Times, Kerr noted that Nunes' memo is supposed to make the case that the Department of Justice and the FBI purposefully omitted key facts when applying for a Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act warrant for former senior Trump campaign aide Carter Page. According to the University of Souther California law professor, however, they fail even to do that.

"Even assuming the memo’s claims are true — which we can’t determine from the document itself — it still does not establish an 'abuse' of the foreign intelligence laws," Kerr noted.

Republican proponents of the memo claim the infamous Fusion GPS dossier alleging ties between Russia Donald Trump was the prime piece of evidence in the decision to surveil Page. The information that would corroborate this claim, as well more information on why the DOJ decided to surveil the former campaign operative, is either left out of the memo or disputed by it.

"The memo mostly punts on the critical question: Was evidence provided by Mr. Steele important to finding probable cause?" Kerr mused. "We just can’t tell. There may have been lots of other evidence showing Mr. Page was a Russian spy. If so, it doesn’t matter what (if anything) the [House Intelligence Committee's] affidavit said about Mr. Steele."

"The memo gives us too little information to make a conclusion about whether the government abused the surveillance laws," he concludes. "It’s a partial view when we need a panorama to know what happened."

Read Kerr's entire editorial via the Times.