Last week Republicans came up with an entirely new means of creating a “scandal.” Devin Nunes concocted a memo, his fellow House Republicans sobbed that it was ‘heartbreaking.’ Fox News declared it ‘bigger than Watergate.’ Then Republicans and Russian bots joined together in a massive call to #ReleaseTheMemo due to it being held hostage by … by … That part apparently doesn’t matter.
Since this memo supposedly details abuses of power inside the FBI, the FBI asked to get a peek. Nunes and the House Republicans said no. Then then the Justice Department asked if it could get a look at all these charges against investigators. Nunes again said no.
An official at the Justice Department, helmed by Attorney General Jeff Sessions and his deputy Rod Rosenstein, confirmed to POLITICO on Monday that the department has requested access to the classified document but has not been able to see it. The FBI, too, has been denied access to the document.
If this memo shows genuine misbehavior by Justice Department employees and FBI agents, shouldn’t those departments — both now helmed by Trump appointees — be handed a copy? Why wouldn’t the House want to share?
According to Republican Mike Conaway, FBI Director Christopher Wray can’t be trusted because he’s surrounded by tricky Democrats.
Asked why the committee wouldn’t share the memo with FBI Director Christopher Wray, whom Trump appointed last year, Conaway said Wray is surrounded by Obama administration holdovers who, he implied, could not be trusted.
Instead, after a week of screaming for the memo’s “release,” Republicans intend to hand it off to Donald Trump, where you can be sure it will used to make unsubstantiated claims to fit any occasion.
What is the “worse than Watergate” allegation at the root of the magic memo? That the FBI included information from one of Christopher Steele’s memos as part of the justification behind a FISA warrant for Carter Page. That makes the memo the culmination of a multi=pronged effort in which Republicans have worked to discredit Steele, turn the ‘dossier’ into a partisan artifact, and paint the FBI as in the pocket of Democrats.
And it utterly ignores every, single fact of the case. First off, Carter Page had made multiple visits to Moscow, given speeches against US sanctions, was involved in attempting to connect state-owned Russian energy companies to outside funds, and was the target of a known recruitment attempt by Russian agents that predated his time on Trump’s campaign. Page had been under observation well before Steele began his work. Even if multiple memos from Steele’s work were involved in renewing a warrant on Page, it would have been a fly speck on a lengthy list of reasons that even Page has admitted.
While the government has never revealed his identity, Carter Page has acknowledged to CNN that he is the individual the documents refer to as a target of recruitment by three Russian intelligence agents, news first reported by BuzzFeed on April 3.
But even if one of Steele’s memos was the primary cause for Page’s warrant … so what? While Democratic funding did go into generating those memos, there’s no evidence whatsoever that it affected either the quality of Steele’s work or the acceptance that work found at the FBI. It wouldn’t matter if Steele was being funded by Clinton, Obama, Saul Alinsky, and the estate of Karl Marx, if he saw what he believed to be a crime in progress and took it to the FBI, that’s the way the system is supposed to work. “Hillary touched it” does not make Steele’s work any less valid.
Any serious review of the #ReleaseTheMemo memo, would reveal it as a thin summation of Republican talking points, and like everything else cobbled together by Devin Nunes and his staff, a product of distortion, slanted statements, and highly selective editing.
As Trey Gowdy, who worker with Nunes on the memo, admitted, this was a memo written by the home team, only for the home team.
“Well, I drafted it for my colleagues. I didn’t draft it for the FBI. The FBI can do their own memo.”
What will happen to the memo now? Rather than give it to the FBI, the DOJ, or the public, House Republicans intend to “release” it to Donald Trump. However, it’s likely that the memo will be released to the public next week.
Republicans in Congress are pursuing an obscure, never-before-used process to compel the release of classified information, with or without the president’s approval. Under House rules, the intelligence committee may reveal classified information if they deem its public release outweighs national security concerns. Under the process, the committee could vote to release the memo as early as next Wednesday.
What won’t be released? Any of the supporting documents. Any of the conflicting information. Any of the data that, in the case of previous Nunes “scandals” has proven that his hyperventilating claims were simply lies.
They’ll release the memo all right — and nothing but the memo. Which isn’t an official document. It’s propaganda.