Smart. Sharp. Funny. Fearless.

Monday, December 09, 2019 {{ new Date().getDay() }}

Tag:

In Rare Public Rebuke, FBI Humiliates Nunes For ‘Memo’ Smear Campaign

After meeting with Speaker of the House Paul Ryan and White House chief of staff John Kelly and beseeching them not to publicly release a dubious, GOP-concocted hit report on the FBI, the bureau went public with its “grave concerns” on Wednesday.

Clearly hitting the Republican’s ongoing smear campaign led by House Intelligence Committee chair Devin Nunes — which is playing out against the backdrop of special counsel Robert Mueller’s Russia and obstruction of justice investigation — the FBI statement said: “As expressed during our initial review, we have grave concerns about material omissions of fact that fundamentally impact the memo’s accuracy.”

Then again, it’s extremely rare for a major political party in this country to wage a months-long campaign to destroy the FBI in hopes of protecting their president who remains the center of a special counsel investigation.

On Wednesday, moderate Democratic Sen. Joe Manchin from West Virginia lashed out on the pending GOP mini-report, which emerged from the House Intelligence Committee, calling it a “scam” and “asinine.”

The extraordinary development, and the fact that the FBI feels it needs to now go public regarding its battle with House Republicans and the White House, comes one week after Trump’s own Department of Justice sent out a warning signal about the GOP’s smear campaign.

It “would be extraordinarily reckless for the Committee to disclose such information publicly without giving the Department and the FBI the opportunity to review the memorandum,” the Justice statement stressed.

Democrats, members of the intelligence community, and officials at the Justice Department and FBI have stressed that the smear memo, which is basically just partisan oppo research, does not provide an accurate description of how the FBI has functioned with regard to the Russia investigation.

And that’s precisely why GOP House members have refused to corroborate their report. Specifically, they refuse to share with anyone what the sources are for the cherry-picked memo. House Republicans won’t even share that information with Republicans in the Senate.

But the White House needs to create a massive diversion from the Russia and obstruction of justice probes, so they’re poised to join forces with House Republicans and publicly release the shoddy, reckless report.

And they’ll do it over the FBI’s “grave concerns.”

 

Hometown Paper Rips Rep. Devin Nunes For Being ‘Trump’s Stooge’

The Fresno Bee, a daily newspaper in Fresno, CA, issued a savage takedown of GOP Rep. Devin Nunes on Friday, blasting the congressman for being “Trump’s stooge” and “doing the dirty work” of the White House.

“What, pray tell, does Rep. Devin Nunes think he’s doing by waving around a secret memo attacking the FBI, the nation’s premier law enforcement agency?” the paper asked, referring to the memo that Nunes wrote alleging — without evidence — that the FBI engaged in major surveillance abuses during its investigation of the Trump campaign.

“He certainly isn’t representing his Central Valley constituents or Californians, who care much more about health care, jobs and, yes, protecting Dreamers than about the latest conspiracy theory,” Nunes’ hometown paper said.

“Instead, he’s doing dirty work for House Republican leaders trying to protect President Donald Trump in the Russia investigation.”

The scathing editorial went on to say that it’s “no accident” that Nunes and his fellow partisan hacks started hyping the memo right around the same time that special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation appears to be ramping up, particularly in its focus on Trump’s potential obstruction of justice.

As the paper notes, Mueller’s team interviewed former FBI Director James Comey and Attorney General Jeff Sessions last week — coinciding with the GOP’s disingenuous push to ‘release the memo,’ which is actually just a note written by Nunes.

The stunt, led by Nunes and Rep. Matt Gaetz (R-FL) — with an assist from Russian-linked Twitter accounts — is just the latest attempt to “discredit the FBI and distract the public,” the editorial board wrote.

“There are reasons to be very skeptical of this memo,” they added. “The FBI hasn’t been sent a copy or given a chance to respond. Democrats who have seen it, including Rep. Adam Schiff of Burbank say it’s full of inaccuracies and innuendo.”

Schiff, also from California, serves as the ranking Democrat on the House Intelligence Committee. Nunes is the head of the committee but was forced to recuse himself last year after pulling a similar stunt in which he attempted to provide cover for Trump’s lie about being “wiretapped” by the Obama administration.

“Nunes … may believe he will pay no political price for unfairly attacking law enforcement and protecting Trump,” the editorial board wrote. “But his performance as chairman of the highly sensitive House Intelligence Committee has been nothing short of embarrassing.”

“Instead of taking Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election seriously and leading an impartial and bipartisan inquiry, Nunes has colluded with the White House.”

The editorial went on to slam the GOP for launching baseless, politically motivated attacks on the men and women of the FBI, all in an effort to provide cover for Trump.

“[I]t is supremely ironic that the GOP — which long has proclaimed itself the party of law and order — is serving to undermine public trust in agents who risk their lives, combat organized crime, ferret out public corruption, and protect us against terrorism.”

Republicans’ misleading allegations of wrongdoing are bad enough, but their push to release an intelligence memo that could reveal sources and methods is nothing short of dangerous. The Department of Justice wrote a letter on Thursday warning Nunes not to release the memo without giving the DOJ and FBI time to review it, calling the idea “extraordinarily reckless.”

But none of that seems to concern Trump apologists like Nunes, who care more about putting on a show than doing the work they were elected to do.

In its conclusion, the fiery editorial offered a simple recommendation for Nunes and his fellow Republicans. “[D]o our democracy a favor,” the paper said. “Stop with the hyperventilating and let Mueller finish his investigation and get to the truth.”

#ReleaseTheMemo Is the Latest Laughable Scheme in the Plot Against Mueller

Reprinted with permission from AlterNet.

The accumulating facts are damning.

President Trump is under investigation. Special prosecutor Robert Mueller has indicted four of his former aides, including his campaign manager, for making false statements related to the FBI’s ongoing investigation of possible collusion between the Trump campaign and the Russian government. Two of the defendants have pleaded guilty.

Former adviser Steve Bannon has devastated the White House claim that the Russia investigation is fake news, by saying a meeting between the Trump campaign and Russian agents in June 2016 was “unpatriotic” and “treasonous.”

What’s a good Republican to do? Once upon a time, conservatives might have said conservative things like, “Let’s wait for all the facts.” Or, “Let law enforcement do its job.” Or, “The president is a good man.”

No more. Pro-Trump Republicans prefer “alternative facts” to real ones. They know showing respect for law enforcement will only endanger Trump and his entourage. And no one seeking to be credible dares to say the porn-star loving president is a decent human being, at least not to the 63 percent of Americans who disapprove of how he’s doing his job

Instead, the Republican response to Trump’s deepening legal predicament is #ReleaseTheMemo, a disingenuous social media campaign that falsely insinuates the government is suppressing a memo that supposedly exposes a “Deep State” plot against the president.

The claims of the memo, written by House Republicans, are narrow: They allege that Christopher Steele, a senior British intelligence official, lied to FBI agents who interviewed him as part of an investigation into the 2016 election, telling them he had not spoken to reporters about collusion between Russia and the Trump campaign, before revealing in a separate lawsuit that he had in fact spoken to them prior to the election.

The memo reportedly claims Steele’s information was then used in the FBI’s application to surveil Trump associate Carter Page through the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA).

So the allegation is that the investigation of one lower-ranking Trump aide—Page—who has not been indicted, somehow discredits the investigation and indictment of more senior aides. And even this narrow charge is unfounded.

The testimony of Glenn Simpson, the private investigator who hired Steele to investigate Trump’s Russia connections, refutes the claims in the memo, which is why Republicans opposed its release.

In fact, the investigation of Page had begun in July 2015 and the FISA surveillance followed shortly thereafter, before Steele spoke to the FBI. Steele’s information did not launch the government’s case; it strengthened it.

Steele went to the Bureau because he had accumulated a great deal of evidence about possible illegal activities involving a dozen members of the Trump entourage, not just Page (who has not been indicted). And as a retired senior British intelligence official, Steele was (and is) regarded by the FBI as a credible source.

The implication that the bogus memo is being kept secret is also bogus. President Trump could order declassification of the memo at any time. But sharing new information about the investigation of Trump’s dealings with the Russians is not the goal here. The aim is to create the conditions in which Trump can fire Mueller.

The plot to undermine the special prosecutor got underway last fall with the hyping of the Uranium One story. This Benghazi-style smear claimed Hillary Clinton, as Secretary of State, “gave away” 20 percent of America’s uranium by approving the sale of a Canadian mining company to Russia’s atomic energy commission in return for donations to the Clinton Foundation.

The story, as framed, is essentially misleading, if not false, as Politifact notes. Clinton wasn’t involved in the decision, which was approved by 12 U.S. government agencies. In any case, no uranium left the United States.

Without any factual basis for its allegations of wrongdoing, the story has been ignored by law enforcement and forgotten by pro-Trump media.

#ReleaseTheMemo, now trending on Twitter, is the same sort of gambit: a collection of factoids framed with partisan intent to distract attention from the investigation of Trump.

Even Tiffany Cross, a talking head on Fox News, pointed out the obvious: “This is a memo drafted by the Republican Party.”

 

“I think that it is a shadow investigation to undermine the actual investigation into the collusion… the good patriots that watch this network, we can agree, this is something that is drafted with a slant, with an opinion. Imagine how the rest of the country sees this. All of a sudden, people who champion Blue Lives Matters and law enforcement [now champion] a memo that undermines… law enforcement….”

While the memo accuses the FBI of politicizing law enforcement, House Republicans did not even give the Bureau the opportunity to comment on its charges, according to the Daily Beast.

“The FBI has requested to receive a copy of the memo in order to evaluate the information and take appropriate steps if necessary. To date, the request has been declined,” said Andrew Ames, a spokesperson for the FBI.

Which is actually good news. The House Republicans’ refusal to share the information with the FBI indicates they are well aware that the memo will not be credible with law enforcement or with the non-Fox media.

So by all means, #ReleaseTheMemo. So everybody can see that this is a set of partisan talking points to smear the prosecutors closing in on the lawbreakers in the Trump entourage.

Jefferson Morley is AlterNet’s Washington correspondent. He is the author of The Ghost: The Secret Life of CIA Spymaster James Jesus Angleton (St. Martin’s Press).

PHOTO: Rep. Devin Nunes (R-CA) talks to reporters in the U.S. Capitol in Washington, October 15, 2013. REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst

To Hinder Russia Probe, House Republicans Fabricate ‘#Memo’ Controversy

Reprinted with permission from Shareblue.com.

Donald Trump’s allies in Congress are at it again.

Working in concert with a motley crew that includes Fox News, Russian troll accounts, and hoaxsters, House Republicans are once again pushing a specious document to distract from the serious issues arising from the investigation into the Trump campaign and Russia.

California Rep. Adam Schiff, the ranking Democrat on the House Intelligence Committee, said the memo is nothing more than ” a profoundly misleading set of talking points drafted by Republican staff attacking the FBI and its handling of the investigation.”

It is, he continued, “rife with factual inaccuracies and referencing highly classified materials that most of Republican Intelligence Committee members were forced to acknowledge they had never read,” for the purpose of smearing the FBI to undermine its investigations into Trump and his team.

Smearing law enforcement is perfectly acceptable for the right, however, if it means propping up Trump.

The reality, as has been the case with all of the false flags that congressional Republicans and right-wing pundits have thrown up to detract from the very real and serious investigation, is that the “memo” is a partisan, Republican-created document cooked up by Trump’s closest allies — notably House Intelligence Committee chair Rep. Devin Nunes (R-CA).

Rep. Matt Gaetz (R-FL), one of Trump’s staunchest defenders, thundered that there is “no higher priority” than the release of the memo to “preserve our democracy.” He also pushed the story on Fox, in an attempt to whip up a frenzy among the network’s conservative viewers.

Other programs on the pro-Trump network marched in lockstep.

Serial hoaxster and Trump supporter Jack Posobiec, who once held up a fake “Rape Melania” sign to smear the left, is also part of the campaign to push the phony story.

Twitter accounts put together by Russia to influence the conversation swarmed to the #ReleaseTheMemo hashtag, once again linking Trump allies, Fox News, and their supporters.

Donald Trump Jr. alleged that “Democrats & deep state govt officials are doing everything they can to protect those within the government who used their positions of influence to target those they disagree with politically.”

Of course, his father has wide latitude to declassify the memo, but doing so would likely expose the partisan contents of the document and deflate the entire campaign, as has happened to other conservative misinformation efforts.

The latest disinformation campaign comes the same week it was revealed that former Trump White House strategist and campaign chief Steve Bannon will be testifying in front of a grand jury in special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation.

In the book Fire and Fury, Bannon said that he believes the Mueller investigation will zero in on Jared Kushner and involve money laundering. As the investigation inches ever closer to Trump and his family, the efforts to delegitimize it are only growing stronger.

Once again, the right’s disinformation actors are furiously trying to take the spotlight off Trump’s behavior and actions, and have demonstrated that they don’t care if federal law enforcement has its reputation dragged through the mud to serve their purposes.

As usual, there is more obfuscation than reality involved, and it is unlikely to deter the investigators who have made clear the Trump team is in their sights.

House Intelligence Committee Chair Rep. Devin Nunes (R-CA) leaves the House floor on Capitol Hill in Washington, D.C., March 2017. REUTERS/Aaron P. Bernstein