An unprecedented release of classified law enforcement methods shows there is no evidence so far that the FBI was plotting against President Donald Trump, and it’s unlikely that the so-called Nunes memo will provide anything except proof that the White House hopes to tarnish the reputation of the FBI and of the Justice Department, as a means of casting doubt on the Mueller investigation.
With the exception of Fox News and Republicans allied with Trump, the memo has resulted in near universal condemnation and assertions that its release over objections of law enforcement officials constitutes evidence of the very cover-up it seems intended to discredit.
In a new letter to Trump, top House and Senate Democrats warned the president that using the newly-released partisan Nunes Memo as a pretext to fire either Special Counsel Bob Mueller or Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein – who is overseeing the independent Russia investigation – would be considered an attempt to obstruct justice and spark a constitutional crisis not seen since the Saturday night massacre.
For several weeks, Republicans have hyped the memo alleging anti-Trump bias at the FBI but the document released today only shows that GOP members of Congress are apparently conspiring to support the attempted White House cover-up.
There’s no precedent for a president to publicly challenge the independence of the FBI and the Justice Department and the highly politicized document appears to be nothing more than an attempt to discredit American law enforcement that is engaged in a probe of possible Russian collusion with the Republican campaign to derail the legitimacy of the 2016 election.
The memo claims the FBI used the Trump dossier produced by Christopher Steele to surveil a former foreign-policy adviser to the president, but the counter-intelligence probe started before the former British spy’s report was turned over to the bureau.
Evidence that Steele’s research found is no less true because his work was funded by partisan interests, first Republicans and later by Democrats.
House Republicans have claimed that the “Nunes memo” will reveal “jaw-dropping,” “shocking,” and “sickening” conduct from law enforcement officials in connection with their investigation of the Trump campaign’s ties to Russia.
In the end, it showed only that a Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) warrant was issued by a secret court after the FBI provided evidence showing cause to examine Carter Page, an oil industry consultant who served as a former foreign-policy adviser to Donald Trump during his 2016 presidential election campaign.
The Nunes memo suggests that a FISA warrant issued to monitor Page’s communications came about as a result of political favoritism, but the FBI investigation started before any suspect research emerged and so far, none of the information in a dossier created by former British secret agent Christopher Steele has been disproved and some major findings have been confirmed as true.
“This is a moment of extreme peril for our country. President Trump and his allies in Congress are stopping at nothing to interfere with the special counsel’s Russia probe, even if it means putting the safety of the American public at risk, and degrading the rule of law,” said Sen. Cory Booker (D-NJ), a member of the Senate Judiciary Committee. “In doing the bidding of President Trump, Congressman Nunes is engaging in willfully reckless, partisan, and obstructive behavior. His memo was written and selectively edited by those with a clear agenda of protecting Trump above all else, even our national security.”
Nunes claims that the evidence used for the surveillance warrant came from the Steele Dossier, which consists of opposition research material on the Trump campaign originally funded by a Republican challenger and later continued with Democratic backing.
The dossier includes a series of claims about Trump and his aides’ relationships with Russians, including corrupt businessmen, intelligence agents and prostitutes.
The Justice Department said that the Steele dossier was not the basis for the warrant.
Republicans initiated Steele’s probe into Trump connections with Russia as an opposition research project during the primary campaign but GOP politicians have seized on financing provided to continue the project after Hillary Clinton secured the Democratic nomination
The US intelligence community has unanimously determined that Russia interfered with America’s political system in order to undermine the legitimacy of western democracy.
An Oct. 7, 2016 joint statement from 17 intelligence agencies that the Russian government directed the election interference.
The government of Russian President Vladimir Putin, a former KGB agent, continues to use hostile methods against American interests that many experts consider to be cause of war, but the Trump administration refused to implement sanctions approved by Congress against the former Soviet empire.
Russia is actively engaging in military action allied with Syrian President Bashar Hafez al-Assad, who is fighting allies of the United States in a civil war that also involves religious extremists associated with ISIS and al Qaeda terrorist networks.
Assad is a former eye doctor from a family with palaces, private jets and a billion dollar fortune who became Syrian dictator in 2000, holding on to power in the face of a rebellion. The United Nations has accused his government of committing war crimes against the Syrian people during the brutal seven-year-long civil war.
“Never has a president of the United States attacked the FBI so publicly,” said Douglas M. Charles, professor of history at Penn State University. “Furthermore, congressional committees with oversight responsibilities have also never openly attacked the FBI in this way.”
“When Harry Truman was president and allegedly was ‘soft on communism,’ FBI Director J. Edgar Hoover secretly worked with congressional committees and Sen. Joe McCarthy to advance the anti-communist cause, but there was never a public rift between the FBI and the White House,” said Charles.
Sen. Lindsay Graham (R-SC) and Booker are authors of bipartisan legislation that would create a judicial check on the president’s ability to fire a special counsel investigating the White House.
U.S. Senator John McCain (R-AZ), Chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee, condemned Trump’s partisan attacks on the FBI and Department of Justice:
“In 2016, the Russian government engaged in an elaborate plot to interfere in an American election and undermine our democracy,” said McCain. “Russia employed the same tactics it has used to influence elections around the world, from France and Germany to Ukraine, Montenegro, and beyond. Putin’s regime launched cyberattacks and spread disinformation with the goal of sowing chaos and weakening faith in our institutions. And while we have no evidence that these efforts affected the outcome of our election, I fear they succeeded in fueling political discord and dividing us from one another.
“The latest attacks on the FBI and Department of Justice serve no American interests – no party’s, no president’s, only Putin’s. The American people deserve to know all of the facts surrounding Russia’s ongoing efforts to subvert our democracy, which is why Special Counsel Mueller’s investigation must proceed unimpeded,” said McCain. “Our nation’s elected officials, including the president, must stop looking at this investigation through the warped lens of politics and manufacturing partisan sideshows. If we continue to undermine our own rule of law, we are doing Putin’s job for him.”
McCain previously said there is no national security interest “more vital to the U.S. than the ability to hold free and fair elections without foreign interference,” and that “every American should be alarmed by Russia’s attacks on our nation.”
“There’s no excuse for playing politics with highly classified information,” said Senator Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.). “The president shouldn’t place personal or partisan interests above our national security.”
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