The Nunes Memo: Say What?

Yesterday the White House or Trump or somebody said the Nunes memo would be released today. Democratic Congressman Adam Schiff and Republican Congressman Trey Gowdy are, according to several sources, the only Congress critters who have seen the underlying intelligence on which the memo allegedly is based. Late yesterday, Gowdy announced he would be retiring from Congress after his current term ends. Coincidence?

Quinta Jurecic reports for the Lawfare blog that during the January 29 House Intelligence Committee meeting, Rep. Nunes claimed that the Committee had already been investigating the Department of Justice for several months, which was a surprise to many of the committee members.

The motion is to postpone the vote until the FBI and Justice Department can review the Nunes memo in full and brief the committee. Nunes announces that “the Department of Justice and the FBI have been under investigation by this committee for many, many months for FISA abuse and other matters … I would urge my colleagues to vote no, we are not going to be briefed by people that are under investigation by this committee.”

None of the Democrats appear to have been aware of this investigation. Quigley argues that Nunes has violated , which requires the committee to conduct investigations “only if approved by the chair in consultation with the ranking minority member”—meaning Schiff. But Schiff says that this is the first he’s been formally notified of it.

Also, too:

Quigley asks Nunes whether he has coordinated the memo with the White House. “As far as I know, no,” says Nunes. Quigley then asks whether any of the majority’s staff have coordinated with the White House. Nunes refuses to answer and cuts him off.

Translation: Yeah, the White House had a hand in creating the Nunes memo.

Even later yesterday, Schiff announced that the memo sent to the White House that Trump allegedly will approve releasing had been altered from the one Republicans on the House Judiciary Committee voted to release. Daniel Politi at Slate:

The White House is reviewing the four-page classified memo that is broadly expected to be released as early as Thursday or Friday—although Schiff’s accusations could ultimately push back that decision. Calling the changes to the memo “deeply troubling,” Schiff said “the White House has been reviewing a document since Monday night that the Committee never approved for release.” Although the Democratic lawmaker didn’t reveal what the changes entailed, he characterized them as “substantive” and said the memo should be recalled.

Politi also wrote,

Trump is still very adamant he wants the memo to be released, but Axios reports there are “rumblings that there could be an 11th-hour extenuating circumstance, perhaps related to Schiff’s tweet.”

However, the link Politi provided to Axios doesn’t seem to be working, and I can’t find any such thing at Axios. Perhaps Axios spiked the report.

Lots of news outlets are reporting that Trump is telling associates that the Nunes memo will discredit the various investigations. But this is the same guy who thought that firing James Comey was a good idea. It’s past noon in Washington now, which means Trump will be up and beginning his day of pretending to work. We’ll see if the memo gets released.

Charles Pierce:

… open conflict had broken out between the White House and FBI director Christopher Wray over the release of the memo. It is Wray’s considered opinion that the memo is a crock.

What Wray said yesterday: “With regard to the House Intelligence Committee’s memorandum, the FBI was provided a limited opportunity to review this memo the day before the committee voted to release it. As expressed during our initial review, we have grave concerns about material omissions of fact that fundamentally impact the memo’s accuracy.”

Charles Pierce continues,

All of which, in combination with the complete surrender of the Republican congressional leadership to this fairy tale, leads to the inevitable conclusion that there is more going on here than political damage control. People are breaking too much rock over this matter for that to be the case. People are risking too much to keep the cover story aloft. The original Watergate cover-up was not designed to shield the burglars; it was to keep a lid on five years of crimes and dirty tricks. There is too much energy being expended in too many directions here for there not to be something seriously wrong at the bottom of this affair.

It might be Russian ratfcking. It might be dirty money being cleaned through the First Family’s” business. It might be a complex combination of both. But not even this president* is dumb and/or arrogant enough to risk a massive constitutional crisis simply to save himself a little embarrassment concerning the circumstances of his election. Even I give him the benefit of the doubt on that one.

I don’t give Trump the benefit of the doubt on that one, but as I wrote earlier this week, I suspect there are people advising Trump to not release it, for his own sake.

Here’s one more tidbit from LawFare:

It’s interesting to compare the unanimous Republican vote to #ReleasetheMemo with the less-than-enthusiastic attitude of much of the committee majority toward the document itself. When Benjamin Wittes and I  to the offices of every committee Republican (except Nunes) and asked whether the representatives had faith in the factual conclusions of the memo, only three members of the committee answered in the affirmative (six did not respond to our repeated requests to contact them, and three responded but conspicuously did not answer our question as to the memo’s integrity). But all thirteen Republicans voted for the document’s release. Likewise, of the majority, only Nunes, Conaway and King speak up over the course of the meeting—and Conaway’s points are mostly procedural, not a substantive defense of the memo. Also notable is that Rep. Chris Stewart told us last week that he would support the Nunes memo’s release if sensitive information were redacted, and yet voted for the unredacted memo’s publication. During the meeting, Conaway similarly voiced concerns over publication of classified information—albeit regarding the minority memo—but voted in favor of the unredacted Nunes memo’s release as well.

This tells me that Republicans on that committee were under crushing pressure to vote for releasing the memo, even if they had doubts about the memo. Make of that what you will.

Update: At Talking Points Memo, David Kurtz writes that Trump himself is giving away the scam.

Trump has no feel for such nuance, no ability to play the long game on this. He’s giving away his own feint! CNN now reports:

President Donald Trump continues to tell his associates he believes the highly controversial Republican memo alleging the FBI abused its surveillance tools could help discredit the Russia investigation, multiple sources familiar with White House discussions said.

In recent phone calls, Trump has told friends he believes the memo would expose bias within the agency’s top ranks and make it easier for him to argue the Russia investigations are prejudiced against him, according to two sources.

All the various angles on the Nunes memo fall away in light of this reporting. The charade is exposed for what it is–an effort to undermine the Mueller probe–which makes it a hell of a lot less effective as a charade.

Kurtz goes on to say that no one on the Nunes team is behaving the way a sober-minded person would behave if he sincerely believed some dastardly “deep state” conspiracy were going on in the Justice Department. Playing games with the memo is too obviously a misdirection tactic, not part of a serious investigation into anything.

Update: Just reported at WaPo – Trump expected to approve release of memo following redactions requested by intelligence officials.

10 thoughts on “The Nunes Memo: Say What?

  1. Please, please let all those fvckers end up behind bars!

    Against this “memo”, people a step away from the WH are awaiting sentencing (Flynn). SENTENCING . Kushner is facing charges resulting from his tenure as a slum lord. It’s a race: either the snake pit, including the King Cobra, go to Disneyland or the entire Federal government collapses into a shell subsidiary of the Kremlin.

    “The Wall” is not actually meant to keep OUT… who, at this point, really wants “IN”? Descendants of Nazis tired of Argentina?



  2. "Just reported at WaPo — Trump expected to approve release of memo following redactions requested by intelligence officials"

    Redactions, he told his own guy on his way out of the SOTU that "yeah 100% it will be released", this guy cannot open his fucking pie-hole without telling a lie, he even lies to the people on his side?

  3. I have read so much about all this that I am not sure who pointed this out, but it does seem typical of how Trump has dealt with his myriads of lawsuits over the years. He attacks whoever or whatever he thinks it may help him to attack. Like Judge Curiel. He is attempting to try preemptively whatever case or case comes up in the court of public opinion. He studied under Roy Cohn, after all.

    As a lot of people have pointed out, Trump's approach is unlikely to work with Mueller. In fact, it could backfire.

    Why do the Republicans go along? I think that it is related to the spectacle of them groveling at his feet not long ago. Trump is like a king who wishes to reign but does not care to rule. The Republican Congress are acting like his courtiers. To get their way they feel that they need his blessing, and the best way to do that is to grovel and flatter. Queen Victoria ruled as well as reigned, but Disraeli still flattered her, saying that he laid it on with a trowel. Nixon had his supporters, but nobody groveled. Perhaps the current crop of Republican lawmakers are so gone into authoritarianism that they welcome the role of courtier.

    It is ironic that Trump as would be king is anathema to the republican spirit upon which our nation was founded, and yet Congress goes along. Perhaps the judiciary will not.

  4. I see Trump like a fish on a hook doing everything it can to stay out of the boat. Trump knows what he is trying to hide. The memo is about firing Rosenstein. It won't end the investigation. 

  5. What the GOP legislators haven’t figured out is that Trump has no power over them. Trump hurt Flake because Flake came out against him early.

    Romney has a strong shot at Utah, even though Romney clearly hates The Don; in Alabama, Trump could neither get his preferred candidate on the ticket, nor get a win for his pedophile buddy.

    Trump is Trump— he’s the sideshow; the three-eyed pig. The GOP voters are gonna drive their little electric mobility carts  to the polls and do whatever they were already gonna do. He’s a geriatric Beavis or Butthead; entertainment galore for the feeble-minded and mean-spirited.

    • Alas, Medicare has tightened up its policies for mobility carts and has gotten a lot stingier about buying them. You have to prove you can’t get around your own house without one, and that a cane or walker won’t do just as well. If you’ve missed seeing ads from The Scooter Store on the teevee, that’s why.

  6. I just noticed that in following the news, I don't check the dateline – I check the time an article waas posted. Stuff is changing that fast.

  7. Its starting to feel like the Nunes phony memo ploy is about to backfire.  Did they really think they could impugn the integrity of the FBI and not get any push back?  Apparently so.  If they do release it, it will be such an obvious, simpleminded attempt at deception that its only going to turn up the heat on the moron in chief.  Especially if he goes ahead with using it as a pretext to fire Rosenstein.   

    What's worse, by going all in on an obviously naked, partisan attempt to undermine the investigation at the cost of the integrity of the FBI, the "law and order" GOP is starting to feel the heat being turned up on them as well.  The resignations are coming, not just because of fear of the expected thrashing in the mid terms, but also because the corruption of the GOP as an organization is being exposed as a result of the party either actively backing or looking the other way as Russian meddling in the 2016 election pulled it out for them.  And they don't want to be around of it when it all comes down and history starts to kick in.

  8. I think the Republicans( Ryan and McConnell in charge) are on this Titanic because they have their own crimes to hide. Follow the money ( PAC). I think they know the bell tolls for Trump but also for thee.

    With all the 'retirements' , a lot of Republicans are trying to get out of town before the shit hits the fan. There has to be a real reason for this and it has to be money.

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