Instead of a long analysis of the memo, I wish to offer some observations about the use of it by Republicans and how it, like so many other actions of this administration, damages our institutions. First of all, I agree with what Matthew Waxman, a Columbia University professor of law and former Bush administration official, wrote in an email, “Having decided to cherry-pick, the Nunes team picked a bunch of the wrong cherries for its own narrative.”. It does not take much thought to come to a conclusion that many of the points made in the memo actually undercut the Republican member’s own arguments against the Mueller investigation. As Paul Calian, CNN Legal Analyst, writes of the memo, “If there is anything shocking in the Nunes memo, it can be found in its faulty reasoning, writing and sourcing.”
The memo is a political document... nothing more... and a lot less. As in a court case, this document is not intended to prove innocence, but to cast doubt.
The way this memo was released is highly unusual. Of course, memos by House and Senate committees have been issued in the past. However, if there is no bipartisan accord, there is always a “rebuttal” document issued on behalf of the minority position. This was not done in this case. When House Intelligence Committee Republicans voted last Monday to release their document, they voted against a series of motions by Rep. Adam Schiff (D-Calif.), intended to ensure that the minority's rebuttal would be released, as well.
It is important to understand who the head of the House Intelligence Committee is, and what his role has been as a key obfuscater in defense of our embattled president. The 44 year old Devon Nunes, who served on the Trump transition team, was the first leading House Republican to deny that the intelligence community had evidence of contact between the Trump campaign and Russian operatives. Nunes also rejected calls that he request President Trump's tax returns. At the request of a White House communications aide, Nunes spoke to a Wall Street Journal reporter to challenge a story about the Trump campaign's connections to Russia. When Trump's national security adviser Michael T. Flynn resigned after it was revealed that he had misled the Trump administration about his communication with Russian officials, Nunes said he would not seek to investigate Flynn's ties to Russia. In early 2017, he was criticized for bias in a congressional investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 United States elections.
On March 22, 2017, during the House Intelligence Committee's investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 United States elections, Nunes held a press conference to announce that he had received information that communications of members of Trump's transition team had been "incidentally collected" by the intelligence community. Nunes was widely criticized for sharing this information with the media and the president before briefing his colleagues on the committee. In late March 2017, Nunes canceled a public hearing in which former acting Attorney General Sally Yates, former National Security Agency Director James Clapper, and former CIA Director John Brennan were to testify. Democrats criticized Nunes' decision and said that he was trying to protect the White House from damaging revelations.
On April 6, 2017, Nunes temporarily stepped aside from leading the Russia investigation while being investigated by the Office of Congressional Ethics because he falsely claimed that the Obama administration wiretapped then candidate Trump.
Skip ahead a busy eight months for Devin Nunes. The memo released by the House Intelligence Committee, under his authorship is yet another example of the insidious and cynical nature of the Trump administration. It is also another example of how Trump corrupts American governmental institutions. When asked on February 2, 2018 if he has confidence in Rod Rosenstein, who now oversees the Mueller investigation, Trump relied “You figure that one out.”
You don’t have to be a political genius to understand what will happen next. In his own words, Trump declared by Tweet on Saturday morning, February 3, 2018,
“This memo totally vindicates ‘Trump’ in probe. But the Russian
Witch Hunt goes on and on. Their was no Collusion and there
was no Obstruction (the word now used because, after one year
of looking endlessly and finding NOTHING, collusion is dead).
This is an American disgrace!”.
The next act in this fourth grade level, ham fisted political spectacle we are witnessing will be Trump’s use of the Nunes memo to justify his firing of Rosenstein.
Welcome to the era of the “Big Lie”. The cast of characters lined up in the Trump administration is like watching an episode of the Keystone Cops. This entire situation is tragically funny, but it also ominously portends a constitutional crisis like we have never faced in our nation. We are witnessing a president, and his confederates, who will do anything to remain in power... for the sheer sake of it. They seem to be not above any action to subvert our cherished institutions, twist fact, distort the truth, and deceive the American public, whom they certainly don’t give a damn about. The “American disgrace”, Mr. President, is you!
About this blog.
This blog is a place where many of the confluences of my life can be shared. I am, at the core, a creative person. I approach everything from that basis... whether composing symphonies, playing the cello, being a serial entrepreneur, writing sermons and essays, flying airplanes, or creating software apps. I am deeply passionate about creativity, issues of social justice, and spiritual enrichment. These are fundamental to everything I do. Welcome to my journey!