Wednesday, January 24, 2018

Did Devin Nunes Invent His Own "Smoking Gun"?

Nunes, Trump and Flynn
Among Donald Trump's sycophants in Congress, perhaps none is more engaged in his own effort to obstruct justice and destroy the FBI as an independent agency than GOP congressman Devin Nunes who, after caught having bizarre  with the White House was supposedly going to recuse himself from his committee trying to investigate the Trump campaign and regime for collusion with Russia.  Except that he hasn't lived up to his promise and is now engaged in a full blown effort to aid Trump and potential traitors while savaging the FBI yet refusing to release information on the so called "smoking gun" of FBI abuses to anyone, including committee Democrats.  Things are to the point where along with Jeff Sessions, Nunes needs to be investigated by special counsel Robert Mueller.  Much of what Nunes seemingly objects to - FISA surveillance that caught Trump minions talking to Russian spy operatives under surveillance - ultimately relates the brazenness and/or stupidity of  Trump regime members like Sessions, Kushner and Flynn who spoke on the phone with folks like the Russian ambassador and then seem shocked that their conversations were caught on surveillance and confirmed that they had lied about their contacts with Russia.  A piece in Vanity Fair looks at Nunes' continued improper conduct and extreme efforts to aid Der Trumpenf├╝hrer.  Here are excerpts:
For all the jokes about his competence as a congressman, Devin Nunes pulled off something of a political masterstroke over the last week. Seeking to cast doubt on Robert Mueller’s Russia investigation, his office compiled a memo alleging scandalous misdeeds at the Department of the Justice and the F.B.I., based on classified information that few other people can access. He allowed his colleagues to look at it, then declined to make it public, setting off a social media firestorm around the hashtag #ReleaseTheMemo. . . . . House Republicans are refusing to share the memo with the very agencies the memo claims to unmask, fueling the histrionics on Fox News and on Donald Trump’s Twitter over alleged F.B.I. bias, and whipping the conservative base into a frenzy.
Here’s what we know: the memo reportedly claims that senior F.B.I. officials abused the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act, which allows U.S. law enforcement to conduct foreign surveillance on American soil. . . . . But Republican lawmakers, seemingly by design, aren’t divulging any specifics.
The overwrought rhetoric, and near-total lack of substance, suggests that the contents of the memo may not live up to expectations. Adam Schiff, the ranking Democrat on the House Intelligence Committee, said in statement that the memo, is “rife with factual inaccuracies” and “is meant only to give Republican House members a distorted view of the F.B.I.” But the panel has moved to prevent Democrats from releasing a minority report characterizing the intelligence upon which the memo is based. As a result, the only thing the public knows is what lawmakers are saying about a partisan document—again, written by Nunes and his staff—based on confidential information that cannot be disclosed.
G.O.P. lawmakers are reportedly considering publicizing the memo through an obscure legislative process that would establish a five-day window for Donald Trump to approve or deny its release. If he were to choose the latter, the decision would be kicked to the full House, which would hold a closed vote on the issue. But releasing the memo could diminish its power—especially if the alleged smoking gun is more smoke and mirrors. Republicans could feasibly bolster their claims by releasing the source material.
And Trump could choose to declassify the entire thing, if he actually wanted to. But unless there’s a there there, it’s not clear there would be a point. If the memo is just Nunes’s ramblings, team “witch hunt” loses both credibility and leverage.
Unless and until Nunes' memo is released and vetted, it should be given about as much credit as a piece authored by Tony Perkins or Franklin Graham on the merits of same sex relationships - i.e., zero.  Meanwhile, Mr. Mueller needs to haul Mr. Nunes' ass in for questioning. 

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