Christopher Wray of FBI, Rod Rosenstein of Justice

Memo: How to Create a Swamp

  • The House Intelligence Committee majority, led by Rep. Devin Nunes (R-CA), wrote a four-page memo attacking early decisions in the Russia investigation that they say improperly used an unproved dossier assembled as anti-Trump campaign fodder to persuade a secret federal FISA court to allow surveillance of at least one Trump associate, Carter Page, for cooperation with Russians. The vote to publicize the memo was along political party lines. Among other things, Nunes and the White House refuse to say whether they worked on the memo together.
  • The Democratic minority complains that the actual memo differs in final language from what was approved by the majority, and gripes that their own longer rebuttal memo isn’t being publicized in like manner.
  • More reports continue to arise in the news media that Special Counsel Robert S. Mueller III is honing in on lies spun by the Trump staff, including communications director Hope Hicks, about a Trump Tower meeting with Russians who had offered to deliver dirt on Hillary Clinton. In short, the new details tighten the case against the president himself.
  • It has been widely reported that the president wants to remove Rod J. Rosenstein as deputy attorney general with oversight of the Mueller investigation. The memo apparently points in his direction for missteps in the FISA applications, allowing the president more ammunition to remove Rosenstein, who, in turn, is the only official who can stop Mueller.
  • After Rosenstein and FBI Director Christopher Wray were rebuffed by Chief of Staff John Kelly from stopping the memo, Wray went public with a “grave” warning, its highest such level, about publicizing a memo that is inaccurate and incomplete. It is highly irregular for the FBI and Justice Department to buck the president publicly, but then, it is highly irregular for the president to be talking about firing anyone who wants to investigate him.
  • At one point, it came out that Peter Strzok, one of the FBI agents singled out for bias because of anti-Trump messages he shared with his lover, was the same Peter Strzok who wrote the October note to Congress re-opening the Hillary Clinton email. The “bias” claims are either wacky or equally aimed in both directions.
  • Throughout all of this, Paul Ryan, the Speaker of the House, insists that the memo is about the narrow issue of specific missteps, and is not an indictment of the FBI or Justice. His words are simply not credible.
  • And the president’s legal team is leaking hints that perhaps it will not cooperate with open questioning of the president by prosecutor Mueller.




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Terry Schwadron

Terry Schwadron

Journalist, musician, community volunteer

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