The Nunes Memo: a scandal within a scandal
#ReleaseTheMemo has won.
After weeks of incessant tweeting, the Trump White House declassified the Nunes Memo, which inexplicably accuses the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) and the Department of Justice of holding anti-Trump bias in the investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election.
Yet the memo is certainly not “worse than Watergate,” nor does it “totally vindicate” President Trump in the Russia investigation.
So, what’s the big deal?
Given the tenuous conditions in this nation, its release has fueled already growing distrust, with the intelligence agencies and the justice system on one side of the line and the White House on the other.
Even the FBI’s most loyal supporters grew skeptical of the agency. A Reuters/Ipsos poll conducted after the memo’s release reveals “nearly three out of four Republicans believe the FBI and Justice Department are trying to undermine U.S. President Donald Trump.” Yet just last month, 91 percent of Republicans professed they were satisfied with the nation’s law enforcement agencies.
The game-changer was that the FBI relied on Democratically-funded research in order to renew a warrant surveilling Trump’s former campaign advisor Carter Page, who may have worked with Russian officials to bend the election in Trump’s favor. Specifically, the partisan firm hired anti-Trump supporter Christopher Steele to compile a dossier attesting Trump’s collusion with the Russian government.
Apparently, the FBI exploited its powers by concealing Steele’s bias from the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court. However, even the Nunes memo affirmed that the Steele dossier was not the only evidence against Page, since the court must consider multiple informants before reaching its final decision.
In the end, the memo’s release has sparked widespread hysteria, with convincing but insufficient evidence, tainting the Trump-Russia probe with more prejudice and threatening the FBI’s authority to conduct the investigation independently. As the Trump vs. FBI battle ensues, the nation will simply be torn between two “truths” and walk further away from the real story.
On one hand, the Republicans demand the intelligence community’s legal abuses must be exposed to the public, but they have ulterior motives of their own.
The memo’s release seems to be the logical next step for Trump’s vendetta against his opponents. With the firing of James Comey, now-former FBI director and the lead on the Russian investigation, there remains one last person on his blacklist: Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein, the No. 2 official at the Justice Department and the ultimate head of the Russia investigation.
Nevertheless, his “fire all” plan is merely backed by his statements rather than extensive concrete evidence. The memo alone can not discredit Rosenstein due to its potential inaccuracies and clear partisan bias. In fact, if Trump truly preaches justice and integrity in the Russia probe, he does not need an unfounded vendetta to defend himself and his party.
If anything, the memo provoked Democratic fears for the demise of the Mueller investigation. By acting in his party’s interest, Trump further destabilizes the federal government, weakening the citizens and international community’s confidence in the nation.
Despite claims that the Republicans declassified the memo in the name of transparency, the question has shifted from whether Trump will authorize the Democratic rebuttal to what information he might remove to protect his party from criticism after the House Intelligence Committee voted unanimously to release the Democratic rebuttal on Monday.
And time is running out for the President, who must make his next move by Friday. The Republicans may be winning the memo war this week, but to ensure impartiality in the Russia investigation, both parties must collaborate with the FBI and the Justice Department, instead of quarreling over who is right.
However, a bipartisan era appears unreachable right now, considering the heavy party politics infiltrating the White House. While our intelligence and justice communities have not always lived up to their purpose, they have been central to maintaining our government’s integrity and are currently our best hope to uncovering the plain truth, if there is anything to uncover at all.