House of Representatives

House Intelligence Votes to Release Rebuttal Memo

“The House Intelligence Committee voted to make public a classified Democratic memorandum rebutting Republican claims that the F.B.I. and the Justice Department had abused their powers to wiretap a former Trump campaign official, setting up a possible clash with President Trump,” the New York Times reports.

“The vote gives Mr. Trump five days to review the Democratic memo and determine whether he will try to block its release. A decision to stop it could lead to an ugly standoff between the president, his top law enforcement and intelligence advisers and Democrats on Capitol Hill.”

Trump Rips Adam Schiff for Leaking

President Trump blasted Rep. Adam Schiff (D-CA) in a tweet, calling him “one of the biggest liars” in Washington:

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!

More Memos Coming from Devin Nunes

Jonathan Swan: “Republicans close to Nunes say there could be as many as five additional memos or reports of ‘wrongdoing.’ But a source on the House Intelligence Committee tells me there’s no current plan to use the same extraordinary and highly controversial process they just went through, with a vote and ultimately a presidential approval to declassify sensitive information.”

“I’m told the Nunes team has discussed producing additional reports or disclosures that don’t require declassification.”

Nunes confirmed as much to Fox News: “Yeah, so this completes just the FISA abuse portion of our investigation. We are in the middle of what I call phase two of our investigation, which involves other departments, specifically the State Department and some of the involvement that they had in this.”

Ex-CIA Director Says Nunes Has Abused His Authority

Former CIA Director John Brennan accused Rep. Devin Nunes (R-CA), the chairman of the House Intelligence Committee, of selectively releasing information to accuse law enforcement officials of improperly obtaining a warrant to monitor the communications of a former Trump campaign adviser, the Washington Post reports.

Said Brennan: “It’s just appalling and clearly underscores how partisan Mr. Nunes has been. He has abused the chairmanship of the Intelligence Committee.”

Democrats Say Republicans Are Obstructing Probe

NBC News has exclusively obtained a six-page rebuttal to the Nunes memo from Rep. Jerry Nadler (D-NY) the top Democrat on the House Judiciary Committee, which was to be circulated to all House Democrats.

The rebuttal says the Nunes’ memo “provides no credible basis whatsoever” for removing Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein and that the memo shows that Republicans “are now part and parcel to an organized effort to obstruct” Mueller’s probe.

Writes Nadler: “Until now, we could only really accuse House Republicans of ignoring the President’s open attempts to block the Russia investigation. But with the release of the Nunes memo… we can only conclude that House Republicans are complicit in the effort to help the President avoid accountability for his actions and the actions of his campaign.”

Quote of the Day

“An absolute disgrace. It is an embarrassment to the United States Congress. It is part of an effort to discredit the investigation of the president. That is its only purpose, and it doesn’t even work on those terms.”

— Jeffrey Toobin, discussing on CNN the release of the Nunes memo.

A Betrayal of the Oversight Process

Lawfare:”At the end of the day, the most important aspect of the #memo is probably not its contents but the fact that it was written and released at all. Its preparation and public dissemination represent a profound betrayal of the central premise of the intelligence oversight system. That system subjects the intelligence community to detailed congressional oversight, in which the agencies turn over their most sensitive secrets to their overseers in exchange for both a secure environment in which oversight can take place and a promise that overseers will not abuse their access for partisan political purposes. In other words, they receive legitimation when they act in accordance with law and policy.”

”Nunes, the Republican congressional leadership and Trump violated the core of that bargain over the course of the past few weeks. They revealed highly sensitive secrets by way of scoring partisan political points and delegitimizing what appears to have been lawful and appropriate intelligence community activity.”

The Hype Was More Important Than the Memo

New York Times: “After weeks of buildup, the three-and-a-half-page document about alleged F.B.I. abuses during the 2016 presidential campaign made public on Friday was broadly greeted with criticism, including by some Republicans. They said it cherry-picked information, made false assertions and was overly focused on an obscure, low-level Trump campaign adviser, Carter Page.”

“It didn’t live up to the hype.”

“But the campaign, captured in the hashtag #releasethememo, which was trending on Twitter for days, may have a far more significant impact than the memo’s contents… What began as an ember more than two weeks ago was fanned into a blaze by conservative media titans, presidential tweets and Republican lawmakers urging people to use social media to pressure Congress to make the memo’s contents public.”

Walter Shapiro: “Ever since Watergate, the standard for any scandal is whether there is a smoking gun left next to a corpse. In the case of the Nunes memo, we lack a body and the gun is a child’s toy pistol.”

The Backwards Logic of the Secret Memo

Jonathan Chait: “Amid all the lies Donald Trump has told about the Russia scandal, there is one underlying truth: The intelligence community truly fears him and considers him unfit for the presidency. This is not because the intelligence community is traitorous, or left wing, or (as Donald Trump Jr. sneeringly put it) wine-spritzer-drinking elites. It is because the IC had early access to a wide array of terrifying intelligence linking Trump and his orbit to Russia. People who spend their lives protecting their country from foreign threats saw in Trump a candidate who had at some level been compromised by one of them.”

“Trump and his allies have viewed the causality the other way around. Because the IC distrusts Trump, its investigation of Trump’s connections to Russia is therefore illegitimate. Since his election, Trump has seized upon news of the investigation into his campaign’s ties to Russia as evidence that the investigators cannot be trusted. If they were unbiased, he reasons, they wouldn’t have been investigating Trump in the first place.”

“The newly released memo by Republican staff follows the tracks of this reasoning.”

FBI Memo Firestorm Engulfs GOP Retreat

Politico: “Republican lawmakers often complain when President Trump’s controversial comments suck up the headlines and undercut their messaging. But this week, they tripped over their own feet. The firestorm over whether to release a classified, GOP-crafted memo alleging FBI misconduct has totally drowned out the House-Senate GOP retreat here in West Virginia. Republicans wanted to tout their tax bill and advocate for their 2018 priorities, from infrastructure to military spending.”

“But the controversial document of their own making seemed to be the only thing reporters wanted to talk about. The rank and file and leadership alike were peppered with questions about the memo drafted by aides to House Intelligence Chairman Devin Nunes.”

Nunes Claims Only ‘Minor Edits’ Were Made to Memo

House Intelligence Committee Chairman Devin Nunes (R-CA) claims the changes made to a controversial memo after his committee voted to release it were only “minor edits” and not “secret” and “material,” as Rep. Adam Schiff (D-CA) described, Buzzfeed News reports.

“Democrats, however, maintained that the changes were not insignificant and that Republicans should redo the vote to declassify the memo.”