Nunes Memo Highlights Partisan Distrust
The release of the Nunes memo without its Democratic counterpart paints an incomplete picture of important issues going on in Washington. The memo is a Republican-drafted statement on FBI missteps in obtaining a series of Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act warrants. Its release prompted the FBI to issue a press release stating they have “grave concerns about material omissions of fact that fundamentally impact the memo’s accuracy.” Nunes
In an interview with NPR, Democratic congressman Jerrold Nadler stated that “It [the memo] doesn’t allege in any way that there was anything wrong or inaccurate about the Steele dossier.”
The Steele dossier has sections that have been verified and some that have not, which further clouds a sound interpretation of FBI actions in using the dossier as a critical piece of evidence in obtaining the FISA warrants. Since its publication on Buzzfeed in 2016, the dossier has acted as a specter hanging about the president in the Russia investigation, providing names of aides and advisors who may or may not have connections to the Kremlin. This may or may not prove fatal to the Trump presidency.
The intrigue surrounding the memo is just as ambiguous. The conclusions of the House Intelligence Committee “represent a troubling breakdown of legal processes established to protect the American people from abuses related to the FISA process.” But the targets of the FISA warrants were specific and the memo does not make mention of the “American people” after its opening lines. President Trump has stated via Twitter that the memo vindicates him in front of Robert Muller’s special counsel, but according to the New York Times, Trey Gowdy, a Republican on the committee, says otherwise. Initially, the committee blocked a simultaneous release of the Democrats’ memo but has now unanimously voted for it to reach the President’s desk.
So, if the FBI and Democrats believe that the memo is at best a presentation of half-truths and Republicans feel the need to tread lightly, what exactly are the American people supposed to be concerned about? Republican mischaracterization of FBI behavior and publishing a puff piece? Over Democratic National Committee and Clinton campaign ties to the Steele dossier? Or that said dossier was used as evidence to obtain a FISA warrant and the judge knew that Steele was politically motivated in his report?
Faced with the blowback from the FBI and other members of the committee, Republicans have been forced to concede to the second memo’s release. With these vital parts still in motion as of this writing, we won’t know where to look. Having the next memo is essential for a full analysis of the consequences for the FBI, the Trump administration and the integrity of the Democratic party. But if one partisan report can be a compilation of skewed facts, who is to say that Democrats won’t do the same in theirs?
This is the state we live in now: It is difficult to trust either party and we have learned over the last year to take everything that comes out of Washington with a grain of salt. Like all political riddles, we are always left with a longer list of questions than answers.