A controversial memo on the Russia investigation written by Republican lawmakers questions several aspects of the inquiry — but the FBI is criticizing that memo's public release because they say it has many glaring omissions.
The specific contents of the so-called Nunes memo aren’t known, but Democratic lawmakers allege it contains damaging information about the FBI and the Justice Department in a flagrant attempt to discredit the investigation that’s edging closer to Trump by the day.
The release of the memo would be particularly jarring to the intelligence community, which wasn’t given the opportunity to view it for themselves before the House Intelligence Committee voted for its release.
On Wednesday, the FBI expressed worries that the memo itself could be damaging to their future investigations, particularly because of what it doesn’t include.
“We have grave concerns about the material omissions of fact that fundamentally impact” the memo’s accuracy, the agency wrote in a statement.
In other words, the Republican memo picks and chooses information to report on within the document, leaving out significant details that could help explain GOP lawmakers’ seemingly feigned concerns. Since it was approved by the committee to be made public, Trump has until Feb. 3 to determine whether it will be released or not.
In response to the Nunes memo, Democrats on the House Intelligence Committee penned their own memo that sought to address the glaring omissions in the Republicans’ document. However, in a party-line vote on the committee, Republicans blocked the release of that memo.
This all appears to be a spectacularly transparent attempt to discredit the Russia investigation, particularly elements which suggest a collusion effort existed between Trump’s 2016 presidential campaign and the Kremlin. Trump and many administration officials have tried for months to suggest intelligence agencies can’t be trusted, a remarkably unprecedented attack that is clearly being made in order to make it seem as if the FBI has a vendetta against the president.
Some lawmakers are cautioning against anticipating too much from the release of the Nunes memo.
“It’s worse than a nothing burger, it’s like having nothing mustard,” Rep. Ted Lieu (D-California) said about the memo, which he said he’s read. Lieu also suggested on Twitter that GOP expectations about the memo are too high.
As a Member of the House Judiciary Committee, I read the partisan, classified Nunes House Intel memo. I can't talk about it. However, here's an analogy.— Ted Lieu (@tedlieu) January 29, 2018
Remember Geraldo Rivera and the infamous Mystery of Al Capone's Vaults? It's like that, but Geraldo Rivera has more integrity.
Still, if the memo is released, it would be a blatant, politically-motivated tactic that would be a dangerous precedent to set. Classified government intelligence should be shared with the public in many cases, but not when it’s being used politically to discredit an investigation into possible misdeeds by the president. What’s more, this cannot rightfully be called transparency at all — not when omissions are purposely being made within the document.
The president would be wrong to release this memo, and the committee made the wrong choice in giving him the option to do so. Honest portrayals of the investigation should be made public at some point, but this dishonest document does more harm than good for the country.