The GOP memo is nothing but partisan smoke and mirrors

Credit: Anna Boyle/Art Editor Credit: Anna Boyle/Art Editor
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In keeping with recent tradition, Republicans have found a new way to undermine federal institutions. This time, it comes in the form of #releasethememo. The hashtag is a semi-viral attempt to stir controversy surrounding the FBI and Justice Department probes into Russian interference in the 2016 election cycle. Namely, that controversy should supposedly invalidate the Mueller investigation. There are two main things to look into here: First, the memo itself, since it has been released, and second, why the individuals involved have such terrible credibility to begin with, and why that means that the memo should be ignored.

The memo alleges that the FBI ignored procedural standards and obtained and utilized British intelligence — funded by the Democratic National Committee (DNC) — while investigating former Trump campaign official Carter Page. It also alleges that the Justice Department failed to disclose that the information was funded by Democrats in obtaining a warrant. Rod Rosenstein, the Deputy Attorney General in charge of oversight of the Mueller probe, is also implicated in calling for a renewal of the surveillance warrant on Page.

So, on the surface, it does look incriminating. Presented only this evidence and no context, one might think that the FBI and Justice Department deliberately sought to surveil a Trump campaign official with the direct backing of the DNC. There are numerous reasons this conclusion is inaccurate.

For one, as evidenced by the yet-to-be-released Democratic response memo, the Republican memo apparently deliberately selects this evidence while ignoring other information that would completely invalidate the aforementioned concerns. Especially when considering that Trump is now holding up the release of the Democratic memo, both memos are clearly politically motivated. Those motivations are fairly cut-and-dry: Trump and the Republicans want to remove Mueller, and Democrats want him to carry out his investigation unimpeded. So, then, why should we not trust the Republicans in this situation?

Well, it really comes down to one person (besides President Trump): Rep. Devin Nunes (R-CA). Nunes has gained a reputation for shady hyper-partisan political actions over the years, most recently in attempting to justify Trump's ludicrous claim that President Obama wiretapped him during the 2016 campaign. Nunes released communications between Obama's former national security adviser Susan Rice and the intelligence community, in which Rice asked for records of Trump transition team officials who had connections to foreigners already being surveilled. The key word there is transition. Rice did not attempt to surveil the Trump campaign. Rather, after Trump won the election, Rice sought to make sure transition team officials were not compromised. As we learned months later, several Trump campaign and administration officials have been charged with crimes related to Russian interference in the election. Michael Flynn, who served as Trump's national security adviser until his ousting, pleaded guilty to lying to the Mueller team about correspondences with Russian officials. Michael Flynn was Nunes' mentor. They shared a penchant for conspiracy theories under the Obama administration, and Nunes continues to do so under Trump, even with Flynn gone.

That lack of credibility surrounding Nunes, as well as the FBI and Justice Department's vocal displeasure with the release of the GOP memo, should be red flags to all Americans. The memo is just another part of a continued effort to undermine the Mueller probe and to protect Trump. This likely will not be the last Republican effort to do so.