The Memo

By

Leonard Zwelling

By now, it is apparent that the previously unreleased memo from the House Intelligence Committee and its chairman Devin Nunes that was cleared for release by the White House and then was, in fact, released on Friday February 2, 2018 is, to be blunt, a big nothing.

What it essentially claims is that warrants from the FISA (Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act) Court to surveil Carter Page, a Trump aide, were obtained using information gleaned from documents bought and paid for by the Democrats and the Hillary Clinton campaign. This is the Steele dossier. Supposedly without this evidence, the FISA Court would not have granted the surveillance warrants (there were at least four). And, in theory, Robert Mueller’s investigation into the connections between the Trump campaign and the Trump White House and Russia would not have been initiated.

The claim of House Republicans on the committee is that this information damns the FBI and the Department of Justice for operating under false pretenses and trying to fool a very powerful court—four separate times as the surveillance must be renewed every 90 days. What is very clear is that this is all politics and not really about the security of the country or the integrity of the FBI or our intelligence community. That is a community that President Trump has attacked repeatedly and, by the way, is the one on which he depends every day for him to do his job. They are his eyes and ears around the world. Annoying them has major risks including a risk to the security of the United States if its intelligence operatives feel undermined by their supervisors.

What this is really about is the naming in the memo of Ron Rosenstein, the Deputy Attorney General (DAG), as among the people who acted inappropriately. Now don’t be surprised if Mr. Trump uses the memo as the excuse to dismiss the DAG and replace him with a DAG who will do what the president wants—namely firing Robert Mueller or constraining the scope of his investigation. This is something only the DAG can do as the AG, Jeff Sessions, is recused in all matters Russia and the president cannot fire Mueller himself. Of course, Congress should act to give Mr. Mueller greater protection from such politically motivated actions, but Congress act? Surely you jest.

Is that clear? No? No matter.

Simply recall that the president was begged by his own Justice Department and the current Director of the FBI not to allow the release of the memo. The real professionals think this is a bad idea but Devin Nunes, his collaborators on Capital Hill, and probably staff in the White House with whom Nunes is colluding, know better. No, they don’t.

Now they have egg on their faces for trying to undermine the legitimacy of the Mueller probe which everyone knows must complete its work to either describe Russia’s involvement in our election, elucidate whether the Trump people were in cahoots with the Russians and determine whether the president himself has ties with the Russians, like owing them money or laundering some.

My guess is that now that we have all seen the memo, we can get back to binge watching past years’ episodes of Homeland where the country really is in danger and the president is a woman. This is much more believable than the Nunes memo.

We may be seeing a slow attempt to obstruct justice by the White House and its allies in the House of Representatives. Now is the time for honorable Republicans, like John McCain, to take a stand against such nonsense.

Mr. Mueller must be getting awfully close. I wonder to what is he nearing.

Leonard Zwelling