The House Intelligence Committee took what Trump’s own Justice Department called the “reckless” step of voting to release the “Nunes Memo” on Monday night, the night before the State of the Union. Nunes, it should be noted, played an integral role in the Trump transition team and has written what many know to be a four page memo, loaded with bias against the top agents at the FBI, McCabe, Rosenstein and Comey.
The action represents the most aggressive political step yet to protect Trump at the risk of throwing the notion of constitutionally independent co-equal branches of government into the haze of history. The “reckless step” now politicizes the FBI’s investigative process by selectively releasing just a small subset of facts in a nakedly biased view.
The House Intelligence Committee voted along party lines Monday to publicly release a classified memo written by Republicans alleging FBI abuses in their surveillance, an aggressive move that could feed a GOP push to undercut special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation and ratchets up a battle with the Justice Department.Rep. Adam Schiff, the committee’s top Democrat, told reporters that Republicans on the committee voted to release the controversial memo by chairman Devin Nunes.
Have no doubt, the Republicans intend to give Trump cover to now fire Deputy Attorney General Rob Rosenstein who oversees the Mueller investigation. Rosenstein has said that he would not fire Special Investigator Mueller without cause. If Trump fires Rosenstein, it would allow Trump to appoint a person more politically aligned with Trump. The new politically friendly Deputy Attorney General and supervisor of the investigation could then fire Mueller if ordered to do so, or slow walk the investigation by denying Mueller the breadth of the scope needed to adequately address all crimes found and deserving of prosecution. Equally true, Rosenstein’s replacement could slow walk the investigation, cutting staff, budget, requesting more evidence and deny permission to seek an indictment or make a report to Congress, all intended to buffer Trump from Mueller’s independence and judgment.
The House Republicans’ decision creates an alliance across the Article I Congress and Article II White House, by-passing the traditionally independent Justice Department which vehemently opposed the release of the memo.
Last year, Nunes purported to disqualify himself from the entire Russian probe after being caught engineering a stunt, pretending to stumble upon evidence so important it required a rush to present it at the White House. Just a day later, reports established that the evidence originated within the White House and the entire matter was meant to manipulate public opinion. Nunes should have no credibility as an “independent” congressional officer fulfilling his role as a neutral investigator. He has now acted at least twice to unilaterally take up the White House’s cause, this time taking a “reckless step” in exposing sources and methods over the vehement opposition of Trump’s own Justice Department.
Representative Schiff called the action a “disgrace” on the Rachel Maddow, an opinion echoed by Democratic Congressman, and former Justice Department Officials.
The Republican vote to release the memo represents a sharp diversion from any traditional norms, and represents just one more step down a path toward a completely lawless state with a constitutional crises either looming, or set.