By all accounts, the Republicans are set to release the already-infamous “Nunes memo” today, pending official White House approval. The memo, which is a brief summary of classified information alleging FBI surveillance abuses, has been divorced from the underlying intelligence and as such is said to be deeply decontextualized and biased.
It appears to be nothing more than a cynical attempt to undermine the FBI in the hopes of delegitimizing special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation into possible collusion between the Trump campaign and Russia.
The FBI has already stated that they only had a “limited opportunity” to review the memo and even then only the day right before the Republicans in the House Intelligence Committee voted to release it against the wishes of the Democrats. The FBI has “grave concerns about material omissions of fact that fundamentally impact the memo’s accuracy.”
Yesterday, CNN’s Jake Tapper now reported that White House sources reveal President Trump has been telling people that he sees releasing the memo as a good way to discredit the investigation into possible collusion between the Trump Team and Russia.
The admission sounded similar to the president’s previous confession that he fired FBI Director James Comey to make the Russia investigation go away. It seems at a glance that either incident could be interpreted as Trump trying to obstruct justice to save himself.
The underhanded release of the memo is indefensible and dangerously risking dangerously politicizing our historically neutral intelligence community. The Republican refused to release a counter-memo written by Democrats to explain the context of the cherrypicked Nunes memo. They don’t want the truth, they want a piece of misleading propaganda.
Now, for some reason, that seems to be changing. Speaker of the House Paul Ryan (R-WI)— one of Trump’s biggest enablers and loyal lapdogs — now says that he supports the release of the Democrats’ counter-memo reports The Hill.
“The speaker is in favor of greater transparency. If it is scrubbed to ensure it does not reveal sources and methods of our intelligence gathering, the speaker supports the release of the Democrats’ memo,” Ryan’s spokeswoman said.
Why Ryan is suddenly supporting the Democratic memo is unclear. It could be just hot air, as he has been known to say one thing and do another. It could also be that he is trying to distance himself from Trump’s attacks on the FBI and our broader democratic institutions because he expects blowback.
It’s an odd move for a man who has proven himself to be a hack partisan during the Trump era. He can’t be trusted and is focused only on passing his regressive agenda and serving his billionaire donors. Despite that, he has a chance to do some rare good here or, at the very least, mitigate the damage he is helping inflict on the country. Hopefully, he follows through.