Donald Trump's handpicked FBI director not only warned the president about dangers of releasing the Nunes memo, Christopher Wray also told the public that the document is inaccurate. Trump's handpicked officials at the Justice Department said the release of the document could prove "extraordinarily reckless," and Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein pleaded his case to the White House directly.
But Trump, who may or may not have read the document in question, ignored them all. With the president's blessing, Republicans on the House Intelligence Committee made the partisan document available to the public late this morning.
The committee made the memo public after President Donald Trump decided to declassify the document in full, White House spokesman Raj Shah said Friday, shortly before the memo was released.The memo was prepared by House Intelligence Committee Chairman Devin Nunes and is a compressed, 3.5-page version of the FBI's application for surveillance authority before the Federal Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) Court. That application granted the FBI the ability to conduct secret surveillance on a Trump campaign aide, Carter Page.
The document is online here.
A 10-page document prepared by Democrats on the House Intelligence Committee, explaining why the GOP memo is inaccurate, has not yet been released (and it's unclear at this point whether it will ever see the light of day).
Matthew Miller, the former director of the Justice Department's public affairs office, wrote in a piece for the Washington Post, "President Trump's decision to release House Intelligence Committee Chairman Devin Nunes's memo alleging wrongdoing at the Justice Department, combined with his ill-advised intervention with the Justice Department over the issue, represents the most unethical -- and potentially illegal -- action he has taken since he fired FBI Director James B. Comey. And like the Comey decision, it may now feature prominently in the obstruction of justice investigation dogging Trump's White House."
There's an unfortunate irony lurking behind all of this. For the better part of two years, Republicans and much of the political world told voters that Hillary Clinton's email server protocols were the single most important issue facing the nation. When pressed to defend such a bizarre assertion, Clinton's critics said her email practices amounted to evidence that the former Secretary of State mishandled sensitive and classified information.
And yet, here we are, watching Trump, House Intelligence Committee Chairman Devin Nunes (R-Calif.), and their allies divulge misleading and cherry-picked classified details, against the express wishes of the FBI and U.S. intelligence officials, as part of partisan scheme to defend the White House from the Russia scandal.
If those responsible for this fiasco are capable of shame, now would be an excellent time for some.