Feb. 2, 2018

Nothing Here But a Partisan Assault on Democracy

Robert Weissman, President, Public Citizen and Lisa Gilbert, Vice President of Legislative Affairs, Public Citizen

Note: U.S. House Republicans, with the support of President Donald Trump, released a disputed and highly controversial Republican intelligence memo today that alleges, with little evidence, that the FBI abused its surveillance authority.

The Nunes Memo must be the biggest flop since New Coke: Grand announcement and anticipation, but then no delivery.

The memo effectively argues that the FBI relied in part on the Steele dossier to obtain a FISA probable cause order focused on Carter Page. If true, there’s nothing particularly noteworthy about that. Moreover, the public record now indicates that Page was on the FBI’s radar as far back as 2013.

It is utterly indefensible for House Republicans to have permitted the publication of this memo but refused to permit publication of the Schiff Memo, written by U.S. Rep. Adam Schiff (D-Calif.), a member who has actually reviewed the underlying intelligence, and which purports to rebut and contextualize the Nunes Memo. There’s nothing about the House Republicans’ action today that has anything to do with educating the public, clamping down on intelligence-gathering abuses or seeking the truth. It is purely an effort to muddy the waters in the Trump/Russia investigation.

We do not prejudge the outcome of the Russia investigation, but the defense of our democracy requires that it be permitted to proceed unimpeded. That means no threats to fire Special Counsel Robert Mueller, no threats against Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein and no propaganda dressed up as scandalous revelation.

It also means that House Intelligence Committee Chairman Devin Nunes (R-Calif.) should be removed from any role in overseeing the investigation and indeed from his chairmanship. He has demonstrated a willingness to misuse his access to classified information, abuse his leadership role to advance partisan purposes, and mislead the public and interfere with the pursuit of justice and defense of our democracy.

The good news is that there’s nothing in the Nunes Memo to advance the narrative of misconduct that House Republicans have been so desperate to propagate.

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