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Horowitz: The Memo Farce

Tuesday, February 06, 2018


Rob Horowitz

The Republican members of the House Intelligence Committee’s release of an over-hyped and inaccurate 4-page memo purporting to show that in the case of Carter Page, a former Trump campaign advisor who had been under FBI scrutiny as a potential Russian agent for several years before Donald Trump was even a candidate, the FBI abused the FISA process would be farcical, if the subject matter wasn’t so serious.  

Even if the memo provided an accurate account of events, all it would amount to is a question about whether the FISA Court was fully informed that the so-called dossier which was one of the sources of information to secure the surveillance warrant on the hapless Page was paid for by the Clinton campaign.  This is an far cry from the constant drum beat from Sean Hannity and other FOX hosts saying in the weeks leading up to the release of the memo that it would reveal abuses ‘ far bigger than Watergate” and would completely discredit the Mueller investigation. 

And even taking the memo on its own terms, Christopher Wray, the Trump appointed FBI Director, essentially called it dishonest. In a statement he ordered released as part of an effort to prevent the memo from being publicly distributed, the FBI said, “As expressed during our initial review, we have grave concerns about material omissions of fact that fundamentally impact the memo’s accuracy. “  And it is important to note that Wray’s vigorous objections to the release of the memo did not stem from any of his own vulnerabilities in this situation because all the events that are the subject of the memo occurred well before he became head of the FBI.

The fact that the real purpose of Committee Chair Devin Nunes(R-CA) ordering the drafting of and pushing for the release of the memo was to help President Trump in his quest to discredit the Mueller Investigation became evident when he successfully moved to block the simultaneous release of a Democratic rebuttal memo as well as turned down Christopher Wray’s offer to testify in front of the Committee and address any of its concerns.  It also betrayed a deep absence of seriousness when Nunes was forced to admit that he hadn’t even read the underlying classified documents upon which his memo was based. His excuse was only one person from each party was permitted to read the classified materials and he delegated that job to fellow Republican Committee member, Trey Gowdy(R-SC).  But Nunes  failed to mention that he opposed Adam Schiff’s(D-CA) motion to make the underlying materials available to all members of the Intelligence Committee.

Neither the underwhelming nature of the memo nor the fact that his own FBI Director says it is inaccurate, prevented President Trump from falsely claiming that it “completely vindicated him” and calling the investigation a “disgrace” nor did it prevent the same Fox News hosts from continuing to trumpet it.

It took Senator John McCain(R-AZ) to put the memo in its appropriate context and remind us all of what is at stake in President Trump and his enablers’ reckless, shameless, false and self-serving attacks on the FBI and other true defenders of our national security: “The latest attacks on the FBI and Department of Justice serve no American interests – no party’s, no president’s, only Putin’s. The American people deserve to know all of the facts surrounding Russia’s ongoing efforts to subvert our democracy, which is why Special Counsel Mueller’s investigation must proceed unimpeded. Our nation’s elected officials, including the president, must stop looking at this investigation through the warped lens of politics and manufacturing partisan sideshows. If we continue to undermine our own rule of law, we are doing Putin’s job for him.”

John McCain understands that if good men and women of both parties don’t stand up, farce can too easily turn into tragedy.

Rob Horowitz is a strategic and communications consultant who provides general consulting, public relations, direct mail services and polling for national and state issue organizations, various non-profits and elected officials and candidates. He is an Adjunct Professor of Political Science at the University of Rhode Island.


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