The Nunes Memo Doesn’t “Vindicate” Trump, but his Base Probably Believes Him

(If you have little idea of what the Nunes memo is, I suggest you look at this primer provided by the Washington Post.   The matter is too complicated for me to describe simply and shortly.  Or first read what I’ve written and go to the Post for details and clarifications.)

As you have probably noticed, the Nunes memo has been the foremost political story over the past few days, with Trump and his supporters claiming it proves FBI malfeasance in how it began to surveil the Trump team for possible collusion with Russia and for a cover up of that.  Trump’s claim that the memo “vindicates” him only may seem true if you abandon all logic, like Trump’s TV mouthpiece Sean “hysterical” Hannity, who claimed the memo makes Watergate look like stealing “a Snickers bar.”

The surest evidence that Trump is not vindicated is that Trey Gowdy, and three other Republicans on the House Intelligence Committee which Nunes Chairs, all asserted on Sunday talk news programs the memo had no bearing on the Mueller investigation.

Neither Trump nor Nunes could have been happy about that conclusion, but Gowdy is yet another Republican who has decided not run again in 2018, so I think he cares more about protecting his reputation as a lawyer than pleasing Trump.

Gowdy, who was a federal prosecutor, and who for years investigated the hell out of Hillary Clinton’s role in the Benghazi tragedy (discovering little, but doing great damage to her reputation) is the only one on that House committee to actually have seen the evidence given to the FISA court, selected to do so by Chairman Nunes because of his legal background.

Let me repeat.  Gowdy was the only one on the committee to be allowed to see the FISA warrant evidence, so his opinion should mean more that those both on the committee and elsewhere, especially when those opinions attack it like the plague.

And Gowdy concluded  “I actually don’t think it has any impact on the Russia probe.” 

Well it shouldn’t impact the probe, but Trump will continue to make the memo mean whatever he wants it to  (and his Greek chorus at Fox News and other conspiracy hot beds will amplify the nonsense).  Trump will certainly gather whatever alternative facts he can think up that maintain the illusion he is being unfairly prosecuted by those biased towards Democrats, while ignoring the inconvenient fact that all the top guys he has fired and/or criticized in the DOJ and the FBI are Republicans, most of whom he nominated.

However, this figures to muddy the waters enough to allow his base to support him whatever the conclusion of the Mueller probe.  It also might embolden Trump to find other ways to impede the that probe through additional firings, a topic I’ll save awaiting to see if it materializes.

Today the House Intelligence committee will vote on releasing the Democratic memo in response to the Republican one.  If released (which now seems likely), Trump will have five days to figure out what to do with it.  Who knows what he’ll dream up?

Meanwhile the government is scheduled to shut down again Thursday, which in reality is a more substantial topic, but more boring (kick the can a few more feet down the road anyone?), so the Nunes memo and its after effects seem likely to continue to get higher ratings.


CORRECTION:   When publishing this earlier today I mistakenly indicated Sally Yates, one of several high ranking staff in the FBI or DOJ who Trump fired or resigned, is a Republican as are the others.  No, she is a Democrat.   Sorry, but she is the exception.

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