The House Intelligence Committee voted to release The Nunes memo last week, which sent Washington into yet another heated debate. The Nunes memo is a government document which alleges that the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) used politically charged information to justify surveilling Trump aid Carter Page for the ongoing Mueller 2016 Russia probe.
The memo, drafted under the name of Devin Nunes- the lead Republican Representative on the House Intelligence Committee- essentially states that the FBI failed to disclose to the FISA Court (which approves or denies search warrants) that part of their evidence was used from the Steele dossier, which was funded, in part, by the Clinton Campaign for opposition research. The Steele dossier alleges that President Trump colluded with the Russian government during the 2016 Presidential Campaign.
President Trump vigorously supported the release of the Nunes document, tweeting that the memo “totally vindicates [him]…This [referring to the Russian investigation] is an American disgrace!” Trump and some Republicans believe that the Nunes memo is a clear example of how the FBI and the Department of Justice have a bias against the President and his agenda.
Notably, the FBI confronted the controversy head on. Once it was apparent that President Trump would enable the declassification of the Nunes memo for public viewing, the bureau countered the GOP Memorandum, commenting that they had “grave concerns” over the release of the memo. Additionally, the FBI maintained that the Nunes report was “inaccurate.”
However, many politicians, both Democrat and Republican, have criticized the release of the memo as a political ploy meant to undermine the Trump-Russia investigation. Prominent Republicans such as John McCain and Trey Gowdy have downplayed the legitimacy of the document.
Senator McCain strongly stated, “The latest attacks against the FBI and Department of Justice serve no American interests… If we continue to undermine our own rule of law, we are doing Putin’s job for him.” The Senator also characterized the release of the Nunes memo as a “political sideshow.”
Democrats have been vocally critical of the Devin Nunes memorandum concerning the FBI, with leading Democrats such as the Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer and Nancy Pelosi commenting that the GOP document is an inaccurate depiction of the Russian investigation.
Pelosi declared that “President Trump has surrendered his constitutional responsibility as Commander-in-Chief by releasing highly classified and distorted intelligence.”
The Democrats have decided to counter the Nunes memo by releasing their own memo on the matter, which disputes some of the facts of the memorandum. The Democratic memo is apparently 10 pages long and it gives context and it refutes some of the points from the Nunes document.
To make the Democrat memo public, President Trump would have to sign off on it. If he fails to sign off on the document, the members of the House could still vote on it, using a rarely used rule. The debate over the Nunes memo will surely be a lively one for the foreseeable future.