The Nunes Memo: Will It Be Released Today?

Ken AshfordL'Affaire Russe, Trump & AdministrationLeave a Comment

Trump told people he would release it (it was heard on an open mic as he was leaving the State of the Union speech.

The memo supposedly implicates the FBI in its use of the Steele dossier to obtain a warrant on Carter Page, but it seems like weak tea. Some Republicans are wary about its release:

Senator John Thune of South Dakota, the No. 3 Senate Republican, urged House Republicans on Thursday to slow their push to release a secret staff-written memo said to accuse the F.B.I. and Justice Department of abusing their authorities to obtain a warrant to spy on a former Trump campaign associate.

Mr. Thune said he thought that the Senate Intelligence Committee and its Republican chairman, Senator Richard Burr of North Carolina, should be allowed to see the document before its release. He also said that House Republicans should carefully consider the F.B.I.’s warning that it had “grave concerns” about making the memo public.

“They need to pay careful attention to what our folks who protect us have to say about what this, you know, how this bears on our national security,” Mr. Thune told reporters at the Republicans’ annual policy retreat at the Greenbrier resort in West Virginia.

Mr. Thune’s note of caution joined a growing chorus of warnings from national security officials who say that releasing the memo would jeopardize sensitive government information, including how intelligence is gathered, and from Democrats who say it is politically motivated and distorts the actions of the Justice Department and the F.B.I. by omitting crucial context.

Mr. Thune also called for a Democratic memo rebutting the Republican document to be shown to the public at the same time.

This even includes Trey “Benghazi” Gowdy….

WaPo sums what’s at stake:

We cannot stress enough just how bizarre and outrageous is the Nunes scheme. FBI Director Christopher Wray, appointed by Trump, and Deputy Attorney General Rod J. Rosenstein, also appointed by Trump, have warned the president that disclosure of the memo would do great damage to American national security. The FBI publicly has, in essence, said the Nunes memo is misleading. And despite all that, the president plans to allow the release of the memo, which has one purpose only: to discredit and hobble the FBI and the Justice Department that are investigating the president. Bluntly put, Trump and Nunes surely seem to be acting with corrupt intent to taint the investigators in order to help Trump escape the legal and political consequences of possible wrongdoing.


Senate Minority Leader Charles E. Schumer (D-N.Y.) then weighed in. “It’s clear that Chairman Nunes will seemingly stop at nothing to undermine the rule of law and interfere with the Russia probe,” he said in a written statement. “He’s been willing to carry the White House’s water, attack our law enforcement and intelligence officials, and now to mislead his House colleagues. If Speaker [Paul] Ryan cares about the integrity of the House or the rule of law, he will put an end to this charade once and for all.”

Ryan, however, has been part of the problem. It is fully within his power as House speaker to remove Nunes as chairman and to signal to Republicans that the institution (Congress, in this case), the party, the intelligence community and the country would not be served by Nunes’s stunt. Instead, Ryan threw a few logs on the bonfire by suggesting that the FBI needed to be cleansed, which sounds an awful lot like a politically minded purge.

Ohio Gov. John Kasich (R), who seems more and more to be in the wrong party, denounced Republicans’ antics. “These attacks on these institutions like we’re seeing now with the FBI and the Justice Department — I mean, these are things that they’re hallmarks of our country,” he said, according to the Columbus Dispatch. “And as we erode them or create enormous doubts in the minds of Americans that there’s anything we can trust … it gets us in trouble.”

If Democrats ever needed proof for the midterms that the GOP is a threat to national security and is unfit to govern, this should do it. The Republicans cannot with a straight face claim to be the party of national security while carrying on in such fashion. And even if a congressman in Iowa or Michigan were to say he played no part in Nunes’s conduct, his or her reelection by definition would help return Nunes to the intelligence committee chairmanship and Ryan to the speakership. In short, Democrats can argue that if you vote for anyone with an “R” after his or her name, you are voting to hobble the FBI, expose our secrets to our enemies and help Trump escape the consequences of possible wrongdoing. Talk about a winning message.

The Nunes memo-related news has not been good, even before its release. The Wall Street Journal reminds us that Carter Page was on the FBI’s radar long before the Steele dossier.  And we learn that Nunes, who got approval to release the memo from the House Intelligence Committee (along partisan lines) went and ALTERED the memo AFTER he got approval to release it.

Pelosi sent a letter to Ryan asking that Nunes be removed as head of the Intel Committee and to stop these shenanigans.

UPDATE: Fly in the ointment —

UPDATE #2 – Here we go?

UPDATE #3 – Maybe not?