― House Republicans spent the end of the workweek telling everyone
who would listen that the American people must be allowed to see a
top-secret four-page document that could bring an end to special
counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation into Russian interference
with the 2016 elections.
thing about that document: Republican staffers wrote it.
memo Republican staffers compiled reveals information that is
“absolutely shocking,” “sickening,” “jaw-dropping” and
“worse than Watergate,” GOP members of Congress said Thursday and
Friday. The document could send government officials to jail, one
congressman said. “Is this happening in America or is this the
KGB?” asked another.
the most plugged-in news consumer could be forgiven for thinking the
classified memo is an executive branch document that exposes
wrongdoing within the Justice Department and the FBI. It isn’t.
document, which alleges abuses of the Foreign Intelligence
Surveillance Act during the FBI’s quiet counterintelligence
investigation into the Trump campaign in the final months of the 2016
election, was actually compiled by Republican staffers on the House
Intelligence Committee. That committee voted along partisan lines
this week to allow any member of Congress to take a peek at the
document themselves. Republican members soon flocked to a secure room
to read the memo written by their allies — and then ran to tell the
press about it.
Carter, a Fox News contributor, wrote in a blog post on her personal
website that the “bombshell” document “could lead to the
removal of senior officials in the FBI and Department of Justice”
and potentially spell the end of the Mueller probe. Carter’s post
was widely shared on Twitter, including by Rep. Louie Gohmert
(R-Texas), former Rep. Jack Kingston (R-Ga.), Tom Fitton of Judicial
Watch and former White House official Sebastian Gorka. Ahead of
Carter’s appearance on Fox News’ “Hannity” on Thursday night,
Sean Hannity used the story to send a “message” to Mueller.
witch hunt is now over,” Hannity said, addressing the Republican
special counsel who was unanimously confirmed as FBI director in 2001
by the U.S. Senate, which a decade later unanimously voted to extend
his term past the 10-year limit. “Time to close the doors.”
#ReleaseTheMemo ― a hashtag reportedly given an additional boost by
Russian-connected bots ― started trending on Twitter. In less than
24 hours, Donald Trump Jr. ― a likely target of the Mueller probe
who communicated with Wikileaks before the election and held a
meeting at Trump Tower with a Russian lawyer promising dirt on
Hillary Clinton ― sent off more than 30 tweets and retweets about
the memo to his nearly 2.5 million followers.
Americans deserve to know the contents of the memo. Democrats & deep state govt officials are doing everything they can to protect those within the government who used their positions of influence to target those they disagree with politically. RELEASE THE MEMO! #ReleaseTheMemo
broader theory of the case Republicans are pushing is that the FBI
inappropriately used information gleaned from a controversial
“dossier” on Trump to obtain a FISA warrant to monitor a Trump
campaign affiliate. They hope that’s the poison pill that could
somehow justify shutting down Mueller’s entire investigation (which
of course didn’t begin until after Trump was elected, took office,
and fired former FBI director James Comey).
say the Republican-drafted classified memo is full of omissions and
distortions intended to fuel efforts to run cover for President
a distorted view of what the FBI has been doing,” one Hill source
told HuffPost. “The majority of the committee is only sharing it so
that other members of the caucus can also disparage and discredit the
Adam Schiff (D-Calif.), the ranking member of the House Intelligence
Committee, said the document was a “profoundly misleading set of
talking points drafted by Republican staff attacking the FBI” and
the bureau’s handling of the investigation.
with factual inaccuracies and referencing highly classified materials
that most of Republican Intelligence Committee members were forced to
acknowledge they had never read, this is meant only to give
Republican House members a distorted view of the FBI,” Schiff said.
“This may help carry White House water, but it is a deep disservice
to our law enforcement professionals.”
there actually a new bombshell in the report? It’s possible. But
the motives and track records of the Republican lawmakers behind the
media blitz surrounding the memo suggest there may be less to it than
Devin Nunes (R-Calif.), who chairs the committee that cooked up the
document, has been the public face of the GOP push to undermine the
Mueller probe. Last year, Nunes was involved in an embarrassing
episode in which he briefed President Trump on information he
received from a source he wouldn’t name. It later turned out he’d
met that person on White House grounds.
Mark Meadows (R-N.C.) ― who previously called on Attorney General
Jeff Sessions to resign (which would allow Trump to replace him with
an official who could shut down the Mueller probe) ― said the memo
was “absolutely shocking.” But Meadows thinks the entire Russia
probe is manufactured hysteria.
Ron DeSantis (R-Fla.), who said he was shaking his head when he read
the memo and that the “American people deserve the truth,”
benefited politically from documents the Russians hacked, and pushed
a measure that would kill the Mueller probe.
I have read the memo. The sickening reality has set in. I no longer hold out hope there is an innocent explanation for the information the public has seen. I have long said it is worse than Watergate. It was #neverTrump & #alwaysHillary. #releasethememo
the memo does eventually go public, it won’t end well for
Republicans, Susan Hennessey, the executive editor of the legal
commentary site Lawfare, argued Friday. “After causing completely
unnecessary chaos today, this memo will be released in some redacted
[form] in a few weeks and prove to be an utter embarrassment to Nunes
personally, the [House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence]
majority, and frankly to US House of Representatives,” Hennessey
conservatives have urged caution, worrying that Republicans are
overhyping a secret document. Republicans “should not oversell”
the report, conservative commentator Hugh Hewitt wrote. Over at the
conservative blog Hot Air, Ed Morrissey said it felt like a “set-up
for a let-down.” He argued the memo should be released, but warned
conservatives to “not go all-in on it until we have a chance to see
it for ourselves. In the meantime, remember that most things that
seem too good to be true usually are.”
Matt Gaetz, a 35-year-old Republican freshman from Florida who
recently flew on Air Force One with Trump and is friends with Roger
Stone, is one of the believers. Gaetz has called for Mueller to be
fired and said on “Hannity” on Thursday that officials might wind
up in jail over what he saw in the memo.
ran into Gaetz on Capitol Hill on Thursday evening, just a few hours
after the congressman appeared on the Fox Business channel above the
chyron “I JUST READ A 4-PAGE MEMO THAT THREATENS DEMOCRACY TO ITS
believe that the contents of that memo need to be made available to
the public immediately, and that that is a critical concern in kind
of all of the Mueller, Russia, Trump discourse,” Gaetz told
HuffPost of the memo, which he said “kind of aggregates”
the interview with HuffPost, Gaetz ran into a common problem for
Republicans who suggest the FBI was too rough on Trump but went too
easy on Clinton during the 2016 campaign: the indisputable fact that
the FBI’s actions then harmed Clinton. Comey’s conduct during the
Clinton investigation was even the underlying justification the Trump
administration provided last spring to explain Trump firing Comey. If
people in the FBI and the so-called “deep state” were trying to
get Clinton elected president, then frankly, they did a terrible job
Gaetz could concede the FBI’s actions ahead of the 2016 election
were much more damaging to the Clinton campaign than they were to
Trump? “I wouldn’t agree with that characterization,” he
Gaetz’s theory, the FBI was hellbent on leaking information to the
press to stop Trump from being elected. Gaetz told HuffPost that
texts between FBI employees Peter Strzok and Lisa Page showed they
were “talking about a plan to strategically leak information to
embarrass Trump.” As HuffPost recently explained, a deeply flawed
story by John Solomon of The Hill has left a lot of people with the
inaccurate impression that the text messages show the FBI officials
were leaking information to hurt Trump. That’s what Gaetz believes.
was explicit in their communications to each other,“ Gaetz claimed.
so?” HuffPost asked. Here’s how the conversation went from there:
Well, when they talked about the, um, I think it was the Wall Street
Journal article, and they were talking about, oh, was it behind a
paywall and did it contain the information that ―
What Wall Street Journal story was that, that was negative against
Uh, again it’s referenced in their communications back and forth,
this was I think in October.
Mhmm. But do you know what story it was?
Yeah, it was all about the contents of the dossier.
The Wall Street Journal story on the 24th was about the contents of
the dossier? The dossier wasn’t released until ―
No, it might not have been the one of the 24th. It was the
communication that was referenced in the Page-Strzok text messages.
No, I know the one you’re talking about, you said the Wall Street
Journal story. I just think the Wall Street Journal story that they
were talking about, if you look at it in context, they were talking
about a story that was actually negative about the FBI and to Hillary
Clinton. It was the story about the then-deputy attorney general [Ed.
note: McCabe is the FBI’s deputy director] McCabe who was basically
being accused of ― I think you’ll probably recall this [from] the
... was basically being accused, because his wife had received money,
so that was what the story was about.
No, yeah, but I think there was other stuff that was included within
Well I don’t have it in front of me.
theory ― that the FBI provided information for an Oct. 24, 2016,
Wall Street Journal story on the Trump dossier ― doesn’t make a
whole lot of sense, chiefly because no such story exists. The first
story to reference the “dossier” was published by Mother Jones on
Oct. 31, 2016, a full week after Strzok-Page exchanged texts about a
Wall Street Journal article. The Mother Jones story only came out
after Comey sent a letter about the Clinton investigation on Oct. 28
that set off a media frenzy Clinton has partially blamed for her
the secret GOP memo gave Gaetz a convenient pivot point: the
suggestion that there’s something, a bombshell, that he can’t
reveal publicly. And it totally supports the theory he’s been
pushing this whole time.
can say that if this memo become available to the public, many of the
concerns that have been raised by members of the Judiciary Committee
will be highlighted,” Gaetz said.
on Friday, all nine Democrats on the House Intelligence Committee
issued a statement calling the memo a “misleading set of talking
points attacking the FBI.” Since the documents that the
GOP-prepared memo cites are highly classified, the Democrats said,
they will not be made public and it will become “impossible for the
few Members who have seen the documents to explain the flaws and
misstatements contained within the talking points” without
disclosing sources and methods.
is by design,” they said. “Not surprisingly, the GOP campaign to
attack the FBI now has been joined by the same forces that made
common cause during the Trump campaign — Wikileaks, Julian Assange
and a multitude of online Russian bots are now involved in promoting
this effort. It should be seen for what it so plainly is: yet another
desperate and flailing attempt to undermine Special Counsel Mueller
and the FBI, regardless of the profound damage it does to our
democratic institutions and national security agencies.”