Nunes Memo Is Just A Continuation Of GOP Obstruction, Led By Ryan And McConnell, Since 2016
The pathetic Nunes memo has resulted in the parts of the mainstream media finally admitting, or at least willing to admit, that a fair number of Republicans in Congress are now more than just bystanders in Trump’s attack on the rule of law, but are actually complicit in helping him obstruct justice. We see it from Jennifer Rubin, who says outright, “Ryan and [House Majority Leader] McCarthy are complicit in the counterattack on the FBI and the special prosecutor to the ever-anodyne Dana Millbank, who says Nunes “gets to use committee staff to undermine the Russia investigation.”
But the Nunes memo is not some sort of step over the line into Republican complicity in Trump’s crimes. It is merely a continuation of that complicity since the fall of 2016. And that complicity and the authorization to go ahead with it comes from the top of the GOP leadership in the persons of Paul Ryan and Mitch McConnell.
Because of the daily blitz of outrage and the constant assault on our intelligence and institutions from Trump and his administration, it seems to be forgotten that in September of 2016 Mitch McConnell refused to authorize a bipartisan statement confirming and condemning the Russian attack on our election when confronted by the information that it was going on. Let’s be clear, our country was under attack from a foreign power and Mitch McConnell refused to do anything about it. McConnell essentially left it up to the Democrats and Obama to defend the country, a point Democrats should be harping on every single day. And to this day, neither McConnell or any Republican in Congress has made any effort to stop the continuing interference by the Russians in our domestic politics or protect us from the attacks that are coming for the 2018 election, as predicted by Trump’s own CIA head.
In addition, Trump enlisted the Republican chairs of both the House and Senate Intelligence Committees to downplay the contact between the Trump campaign and Russia, with Senator Burr actually admitting that he had done so by engaging, according to the Washington Post, “with news organizations to dispute articles by the New York Times and CNN that alleged ‘repeated’ or ‘constant’ contact between Trump campaign members and Russian intelligence operatives”. As we have seen subsequently, those media reports actually understated the reality, if anything.
Nunes continued his obstruction with the ridiculous “unmasking” accusations where the White House gave information to Nunes so that he could then bring it back to the White House so that the White House could complain that Obama was illegally identifying and targeting Trump campaign and transition officials based on intelligence reports. Unlike Friday’s memo, that accusation took a little while longer to thoroughly debunk, with even Senator Burr declaring that “the unmasking thing was all created by Devin Nunes.” As a result of that fiasco, Nunes was forced to recuse himself as head of the Intelligence Committee when it came to the Russian investigation.
But Nunes’ recusal was, in many ways, just a sham. He met with Erik Prince, a person of interest to the Committee because of his apparent meeting with the Russians in the Seychelles, after his recusal. He also sent two of his staffers, who seemingly continued to continually work on the Russian investigation after his recusal, to try and interview Christopher Steele, the author of the dossier, without informing the rest of the committee.
Chuck Grassley, over at the Senate Judiciary Committee, has also been doing his best to carry water for Trump. As part of the effort to impugn the reputation of Steele, Grassley has made a criminal referral to the Department of Justice, accusing Steele of lying to the FBI about his contacts with reporters. In fact, under Grassley, the Judiciary Committee has spend most of its time trying to discredit the FBI and the Russia investigation rather than get to the bottom of it. That approach and especially Grassley’s criminal referral probably needed the go-ahead from Mitch McConnell.
And now we have this latest memo which has already been thoroughly debunked just two days later. First of all, the FISA Court was informed that Steele’s dossier was funded by political opponents of Trump. The memo itself admits that the drunken admissions of Papadopoulos actually triggered the investigation anyway. Also, Page was no longer, officially at least, working for the Trump campaign or transition when the warrant was sought. And now we learn that Page was bragging as far back as 2013 that he “had the privilege to serve as an informal advisor to the staff of the Kremlin”. It would seem that it might be appropriate to monitor someone who had openly admitted that he was an adviser to the Kremlin but had also been a recent adviser to the Republican candidate for President.
Nunes as able to get the memo released by using an obscure 40-year old Intelligence Committee rule that has never been used and that allowed the committee to turn over classified documents to the President to review and decide whether to declassify within five days. The use of that rule and the unanimity within the Republican ranks on the committee could only happen with the authorization of Paul Ryan. In fact, Ryan could have removed Nunes as chair of the committee after the unmasking debacle. But he didn’t. Ryan is not merely a disinterested bystander but a willing accomplice in the ongoing obstruction of justice. And, as much as he protests that the memo in no way impinges on the Mueller investigation, he knew damn well how the White House and the rest of his party would use it. Meanwhile, Nunes will stay in place, now promising to investigate the State Department, while working hand-in-hand with Trump and the White House and, with Paul Ryan’s authorization, to continue to obstruct justice.
The Republican party and its Congressional leadership are doing more than just standing idly by, ignoring their constitutional responsibilities in allowing Trump to enrich himself and attack the rule of law. Devin Nunes may be the most active member of the Republican Congressional delegation in abetting Trump’s obstruction of justice. But he is not the only one. More importantly, the two GOP leaders, McConnell and Ryan, have taken active steps at various points along the way to undermine our democracy and the rule of law.
Originally published at tidalsoundings.blogspot.com on February 4, 2018.