All the President’s Meh: The Unmemorable Memo

February 3, 2018

Renato Mariotti in the New York Times:

For weeks, allies of President Trump ratcheted up pressure to “release the memo.” The impact, according to supporters, would be monumental: It would shake the F.B.I. “to its core” (Representative Jeff Duncan of South Carolina) or it would reveal abuses “100 times bigger” than what incited the American Revolution (Sebastian Gorka, a former White House official).

The president himself said, after the memo’s release on Friday, that it “vindicates” him in the probe.

But it does no such thing. The memo from House Republicans, led by Representative Devin Nunes, fell well short of the hype. Its main argument is that when the Justice Department sought a warrant to wiretap the former Trump adviser Carter Page, it did not reveal that Christopher Steele — the author of a controversial opposition-research dossier — was funded by the Democratic National Committee and the Hillary Clinton campaign through a law firm.

This is actually a fairly common — and rarely effective — argument made by defendants who seek to suppress evidence obtained by a warrant.

What might be the lasting legacy of the Nunes memo is how President Trump reacted to it. According to reports, Mr. Trump suggested “the memo might give him the justification to fire [the deputy attorney general, Rod Rosenstein] — something about which Trump has privately mused — or make other changes at the Justice Department, which he had complained was not sufficiently loyal to him.”

In fact, Mr. Trump’s approval of the release of the memo and his comments that releasing it could make it easier for him to fire Mr. Rosenstein could help Robert Mueller, the special counsel, prove that Mr. Trump fired James B. Comey, then the F.B.I. director, with a “corrupt” intent — in other words, the intent to wrongfully impede the administration of justice — as the law requires.

Senator John McCain:

“In 2016, the Russian government engaged in an elaborate plot to interfere in an American election and undermine our democracy. Russia employed the same tactics it has used to influence elections around the world, from France and Germany to Ukraine, Montenegro, and beyond. Putin’s regime launched cyberattacks and spread disinformation with the goal of sowing chaos and weakening faith in our institutions. And while we have no evidence that these efforts affected the outcome of our election, I fear they succeeded in fueling political discord and dividing us from one another.

“The latest attacks on the FBI and Department of Justice serve no American interests – no party’s, no president’s, only Putin’s. The American people deserve to know all of the facts surrounding Russia’s ongoing efforts to subvert our democracy, which is why Special Counsel Mueller’s investigation must proceed unimpeded. Our nation’s elected officials, including the president, must stop looking at this investigation through the warped lens of politics and manufacturing partisan sideshows. If we continue to undermine our own rule of law, we are doing Putin’s job for him.”


7 Responses to “All the President’s Meh: The Unmemorable Memo”

    • Sir Charles Says:

      BTW, interesting read, an article by Harvey Feigenbaum, political economist and Professor of Political Science and International Affairs at the George Washington University => History, Tax Cuts And Trump

      Indeed, the origins of the Trump phenomenon seem eerily similar to what lay behind the rise of authoritarianism in 1930s Europe…

  1. indy222 Says:

    Great title, Peter!

  2. neilrieck Says:

    So someone wrote a memo (essay?) then others talked about it for a week before it was released. WTF?

    • dumboldguy Says:

      LOL Yep, Trump is a genius and he has some genius level people advising him. Perhaps the real conspiracy here is that his advisers are actually trying to get him to shoot so many toes off that he falls over and gets run over by a bus. Then we can have a HUUUUUGE state funeral, Trump can be sent to hell where he belongs, and the Trump staffers can be released from the hell-on-earth they now inhabit.

      It’s getting so easy for the comics to “get” Trump that they’re laying off script writers. Here’s another good one that was easy to write:

  3. mboli Says:

    — Normally oppo-research discovers that the candidate said something stupid, or the candidate actually has another home outside the district, or something of the sort.
    — Oppo-research on Donald Trump discovered variety of much more alarming things that might warrant FBI attention.
    How does this vindicate Trump?

  4. rhymeswithgoalie Says:

    General tip for watching Rachel Maddow’s slow-paced delivery: Watch at 1.25x speed or faster.

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