Republican congressman Devin Nunes recently released a new ‘bombshell’ memo — one written by the Republicans of the House Intelligence Committee. After an announcement that a draft of the memo had been completed, House Republicans embarked on a media circuit, appearing on all sorts of news shows to build anticipation for the ‘shocking’ memo. Within a few days, #ReleaseTheMemo was trending on Twitter (with the help of Russian twitter-bots). Meanwhile, House Democrats argued that the memo was filled with factual inaccuracies, so they wrote a memo of their own. Unsurprisingly, the Republican-controlled House voted to send their memo to President Trump for declassification, and they blocked the Democratic memo from being sent to President Trump.
Despite being warned not to release their memo by House Democrats, the Trump appointed head of the FBI, Senate Republicans and Democrats, and the Trump Administration’s own Department of Justice, the memo was released a few days ago by President Trump and the House Intelligence Committee. The memo claimed that the Clinton campaign helped provide a FISA court with evidence against Trump campaign advisor Carter Page, allowing the FBI to extend their surveillance on Mr. Page. Notably, Carter Page had been under FBI surveillance for three years prior to joining the Trump campaign due to his (surprise!) Russian connections. Even if the accusations in the memo are true, none of them are illegal. The memo, essentially, is just a shabby attempt of weaponizing intelligence.
However, the various reactions to the memo itself were very telling. The FBI called the memo “extraordinarily reckless.” Senator John McCain, a patriot and war-hero, claimed that “we are doing Putin’s job for him.” Former FBI Director James Comey called the memo “dishonest and misleading.” Democratic Senator Chuck Schumer called the memo “partisan and misleading.” Honorable people across the political spectrum seemed to agree that the memo was merely a political hit-job on the FBI.
Republican pundits, on the other hand, had a different reaction to the memo. Former Trump White House Staffer and possible Nazi Sebastian Gorka claimed that the memo was “100 times bigger” than what started the Revolutionary War. Sean Hannity described the memo as “Watergate times a thousand” and the “shredding of the Constitution.” Sean Hannity then proceeded to call for Robert Mueller’s unrelated investigation of President Trump to be immediately shut down. Perhaps this reveals the true intentions of this underwhelming issue. It appears that the Republicans are actively trying to discredit the FBI and attempting to delegitimize the investigation into collusion between the Trump campaign and Russia.
Many Republicans claim that the Russia investigation is nothing but a witch hunt against President Trump’s campaign. It’s hard to blame them — this is reiterated in practically every show on FOX News. Sean Hannity said a few days ago that the investigation has “no evidence.” This is demonstrably false. The investigation has already charged multiple people with crimes. Michael Flynn, Trump’s National Security Advisor, was charged with lying to the FBI and is pleading GUILTY. George Papadopoulos, Trump’s foreign policy advisor, is also pleading guilty to lying to the FBI. This investigation can’t be considered a nothingburger if the accused parties have admitted to being guilty! It’s truly mind-boggling that anyone can continue to cast this investigation as a baseless attack on Trump when a Republican, Robert Mueller, is conducting the investigation and multiple people have pleaded guilty to committing crimes.
This memo does nothing to answer any of the lingering questions between possible collusion between the Trump campaign and Russia. President Trump, in a tweet where he misused the word ‘there,’ argued that the memo completely vindicated him. In reality, all the memo did was give the President Trump and the Republicans a way to discredit the FBI.
Personally, I believe the men and women who sacrifice their lives to protect our country by working for the FBI deserve the utmost respect from our President and elected officials. Any attempt to tarnish the pristine reputation of the FBI is an attempt to obstruct the very idea of American democracy. I fear John McCain is right — we’re doing Putin’s job for him. I’m just worried some of us are doing it purposefully.