All the hype, the drama, the wringing hands (including ours) and this was all we got?
The infamous (and now infamously inaccurate) memo written by Rep. Devin Nunes’ staff was unveiled Friday – with the blessings of Donald Trump and over the objections of the FBI and Department of Justice. And it was a doozey … of a letdown.
This was Al Capone’s secret vault and the Nigerian Prince rolled into one. It combined disappointment with the smell of hoax.
One of our sister newspapers, the Charlotte (N.C.) Observer, noted the memo had been billed as the “Four Pages of the Apocalypse.” Instead, it was more of the same stuff we’ve heard from half-baked talk-radio conspiracy mongers and President Donald Trump’s various cheering sections.
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The memo offered an allegation that the FBI got a surveillance warrant on Trump campaign adviser Carter Page based on information supplied by a source who didn’t like Donald Trump. Imagine that. Many warrants are obtained on tips from informants who don’t like the targets. In this case, it might not even be true – like a lot more of the memo’s particulars.
The FBI insists the memo is rife with inaccuracies. So do Intelligence Committee Democrats, whose rebuttal was suppressed by committee Republicans.
The real purpose of this memo is clear – an attempt to smear Robert Mueller’s investigation into connections between the Trump campaign and Russia’s spy network. Early Friday, the President tweeted: “A lot of people should be ashamed of themselves, and much worse than that.”
Let the shame start with Trump.
His reaction makes the president appear desperate, evermore frightened over what the FBI and Mueller have found while investigating his family’s campaign, personal and banking ties to Vladimir Putin’s Kremlin.
Apparently, Trump was hoping outrage would give him cover, if not justification, to fire Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein, to whom Mueller reports. That would allow the President to appoint a replacement more amenable to curtailing the investigation. When asked Friday if he was going to fire Rosenstein, Trump responded: “You figure that one out.”
But reaction to the memo is not going according to the Trump/Nunes plan.
Trey Gowdy, a former South Carolina prosecutor who served on Trump’s transition team but is declining to run for re-election, tweeted “... the contents of this memo do not – in any way – discredit (Mueller’s) investigation.”
Tweeted Sen. John McCain: “The latest attacks on the FBI and Department of Justice serve no American interests – no party’s, no president’s, only Putin’s.”
Releasing the memo, said Sen. Bill Nelson of Florida, is “undermining the credibility of our intelligence community and serving a huge victory to Vladimir Putin …”
“I know for a fact (people in the intelligence community) don’t trust Republicans and Democrats on this committee anymore to keep a secret...” tweeted Republican Mike Rogers.
Sycophants like Nunes are eager to read nefarious intent into anything that threatens Trump. They’ll try to weave even scant information into a vast conspiracy, altering facts that don’t fit their narrative.
Instead of outrage over what the memo divulges, many are outraged over what the memo attempts to accomplish – to make Americans less confident in the fairness of their top law enforcement agencies.
The entire memo episode has been almost comical in its buildup and ensuing let down. But don’t let any “disappointment” over this media event obscure its real importance. Some people are willing to go to any lengths to further divide our nation into warring camps. It’s wrong and it is dangerous.