In a space of single day, President Donald Trump’s world seemed to have turned upside down.
Late on Wednesday, House Intelligence Committee Ranking Member Adam Schiff accused GOP Rep. Devin Nunes of tampering with a secretive FISA memo that alleged anti-Trump bias within the FBI and the Justice Department.
Then it was revealed the Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein was reportedly asked by the president if he was on Trump’s “team,” when the DOJ official went to ask his help in preventing Nunes from demanding a series of documents for the Russian investigation.
The New York Times also revealed that White House Communications Director Hope Hicks may have tried to cover up incriminating emails from Donald Trump Jr. related to the mysterious 2016 meeting with a Kremlin-connected lawyer.
On Monday, the GOP majority of the House Intelligence Committee voted to release a controversial memo commissioned by Rep. Devin Nunes that accused the FBI and the DOJ of being filled with enemies of Trump. The four-page document reportedly has information claiming FBI used the Trump-Russia dossier to illegally obtain wiretaps against American citizens — and that Mueller’s investigation is based completely on the dossier.
If the memo were to be made public, the Republicans believe it would shed light on to the fact these very agents have invented the Russian investigation to discredit the president.
However, the DOJ has called the move to release the memo “extraordinarily reckless,” claiming it could have huge implications on national security. Democrats as well as Trump’s own FBI Director Christopher Wray have opposed its release, criticizing the document as "highly misleading," based on a selective use of classified materials.
The news was soon followed by Schiff confronting Nunes in a fury and accusing him of sending a “materially altered” version of the memo to the White House, which was not the one approved for release by the committee’s vote.
The FBI reiterated the statement, saying they had “grave concerns” about the veracity of the material as well.
However, a spokesman for Nunes said it was an “increasingly strange attempt to thwart publication,” and said the changes were only minor and included two edits requested by committee Democrats and the FBI.
But the Republicans are rushing forward to release it, and for obvious reasons: They want to discredit special counsel Robert Mueller and his reporting officer Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein — the only one who can actually fire Mueller or determine what to do with the Mueller’s investigation findings. That means, if the president manages to fire Rosenstein and put a Trump-loving attorney general in his place, the Russian probe could experience a massive setback.
Trump is also aware of it, if his meeting with Rosenstein in December is any indication. According to a CNN report, it was during this Rosenstein was asked a question about his loyalty to Trump.
The inquiry is hardly fair, considering the law enforcement officials in Trump administration are supposed to stay nonpartisan and unbiased.
However, coming from Trump, this is nothing new as he once asked former FBI Director James Comey about where his loyalties lie, then asked Deputy FBI Director Andrew McCabe whom he voted for in the 2016 presidential election and also asked the same question to Attorney General Jeff Sessions after he recused himself from the Russian probe.
The fact is that Trump just can’t let the Russian investigation go forward without his interference. And that is probably why he’s so anxious to release the memo as it criticizes Rosenstein, claiming he re-approved an existing wiretap on Trump’s ex-campaign adviser Carter Page.
But what’s so frightening about Mueller’s probe?
According to a bombshell New York Times report, the special counsel is focusing closely on a June 2016 meeting between senior Trump advisers and a Russian lawyer who allegedly promised damning evidence against Trump’s former Democratic rival, Hillary Clinton.
While aboard Air Force One, the president reportedly crafted Trump Jr.’s initial response to the reports of the meeting, which was sent out under his son’s name through the Trump Organization. The president told the media the meeting was primarily held to discuss adoption of Russian children, a practice popular with American families years ago. Moreover, Hicks allegedly called the president on a conference call saying Trump Jr.’s email “will never get out.” At the heart of all this was Mark Corallo, a spokesman for Trump’s legal team, who was concerned about Hicks’ statement and thought she was either being naïve or was suggesting the emails would be hidden from the special counsel’s team.
Hicks' spokesperson has, of course, denied the communications director ever made such statements. But Corallo, who suddenly resigned in July, now reportedly plans to tell Mueller that Hicks could be trying to obstruct justice.
Although lying to the media isn’t a crime, devising a lie for top law enforcement officials to provide a cover-up for a Russian collusion is another matter altogether. Mueller is zeroing in on Trump and if he finds the link between the Trump campaign and Russian officials exists — something the Trump administration is not refraining from going to any lengths to keep hidden — it could not only destroy the presidency but also threaten the GOP-majority in Congress.
So, if Trump releases the Nunes memo (which according to Schiff, has two versions), which he believes will expose the abuses of the FBI and the DOJ, it is probable all his troubles will be over.