Republicans tried to discredit the Russia investigation. Instead they discredited themselves.


For weeks leading up to last Friday, conservatives clamored to #ReleaseTheMemo. They shook their fists at the fact that a blockbuster exposé by Rep. Devin Nunes (R-Calif.) that supposedly revealed a FBI/Justice Department conspiracy to take down Donald Trump was being withheld from the public. It was all ridiculous kabuki, because the people who had control of whether it would be released were, first, the Republican majority on the House Intelligence Committee, and second, Donald Trump himself, who as president had to give final approval for the document to be declassified. What a surprise that they gave in to all that pressure and made it public.

The memo, it turned out, was a gigantic dud, to the point where even some Republicans tried to distance themselves from the over-hyping. But along the way, Republicans made so many arguments about how the Nunes memo had to be made public in the name of “transparency” that they backed themselves into a corner. While the Intelligence Committee had previously voted down a proposal to also release a rebuttal memo prepared by Rep. Adam Schiff (Calif.), the ranking Democrat on the committee, they’ve now been forced to reverse course. On Monday, the committee took another vote on the Schiff memo, this time voting to allow it to become public.

Now here’s the amusing part. According to House rules, final approval for this kind of declassification rests with the president. So Trump will be forced to either let the world see Schiff’s rebuttal — which by all accounts will beat the already pathetic Nunes memo into mush — or refuse to do so, and thereby only heighten the controversy.

Keenly attuned to the need to tread carefully in this fragile political position, the president tweeted this on Monday morning:

Little Adam Schiff, who is desperate to run for higher office, is one of the biggest liars and leakers in Washington, right up there with Comey, Warner, Brennan and Clapper! Adam leaves closed committee hearings to illegally leak confidential information. Must be stopped!

— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) February 5, 2018

Among other things, the president seems to be running out of insults. But given that he will now be deciding whether to make Schiff’s memo public, attacking the congressman might not be the best way to demonstrate his commitment to objectivity and fairness. And think about the position he has now put himself in. He’s only drawing more attention to Schiff’s memo, and should he refuse to release it, that will look to many people like a cover-up.

Meanwhile, the beclowning of the Nunes memo only gets more evident. On Monday, for instance, we learned that the central claim of the Nunes memo, thin as it was to begin with, turns out to be misleading. Republicans charged that because the FBI used information from an opposition research memo prepared by former British intelligence agent Christopher Steele in its application for a FISA warrant to conduct surveillance on sometime Trump adviser Carter Page, but didn’t tell the …read more

Source:: The Week – Politics


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