While everyone is screeching and jumping up and down over a 4-page memo, cobbled together by a hard Trumplican partisan, Devin Nunes, it can’t be overlooked that at the core of their excitement is that they feel this will be the ticket to shutting down special counsel Robert Mueller’s probe into Russian interference in the 2016 election, along with possible collusion or obstruction by President Trump’s team.
The memo has been built up. Its contents have been teased, and now, in spite of the objections of the Justice Department, Nunes and Republicans with the House Intelligence Committee have decided that discrediting the FBI and DOJ takes precedence over security concerns.
They’ve worked hard to make the memo the focus, in hopes of pushing the actual Russia probe into the background.
Axios was good enough to run a list of 10 indisputable facts of the probe that that shouldn’t be overlooked by the Trumplicans’ push to protect the president.
For starters, let’s not forget that at the Republican National Convention in Cleveland, Trump’s campaign (with now-indicted Paul Manafort at the helm) was working behind the scenes to weaken the party’s platform stance regarding Russia’s activities in the Ukraine.
Why? How did Russia suddenly become the good guys in the eyes of Republicans, even before Trump took office? Why was this so important?
Then there’s the Trump Tower meeting between Donald Trump Jr., Paul Manafort, Jared Kushner, and some sketchy Russian players. We know from emails the meeting was spurred because Trump Jr. was told the Russian government wanted to help his dad’s campaign with dirt on Hillary Clinton.
Whether that meeting was as planned, or whether it was a ruse to talk about an adoption program matters not. It shows clear intent to allow a foreign government to participate in our nation’s election.
That was the shot. This is the chaser:
On Air Force One, Trump helped his son, Don Jr., prepare a misleading statement about the meeting.
That’s something that Mueller and his team definitely want to know about, and if Mueller is any sort of investigator, at all, it definitely should be.
Let’s also not forget that in the early days of Trump’s administration, he shut out reporters and took a meeting with the Russian foreign minister and the ambassador in the White House, and apparently revealed highly classified information.
This information put the life of an Israeli spy in danger.
And who can forget one of Trump’s more vocal Trumplican attack dogs on the campaign trail, Michael Flynn?
What about the firing of FBI Director James Comey? It was the first shot of this administration against our nation’s premiere law enforcement agency.
Comey kept memos on his meetings with Trump and revealed that in several meetings, Trump asked him for loyalty. He also asked him to let Michael Flynn off the hook.
It was an uncomfortable situation, no doubt. When the firing came, Trump trotted out H.R. McMaster, his National Security Adviser, to say Comey had been let go because of his handling of the Hillary Clinton email investigation.
There were also letters from Attorney General Jeff Sessions and Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein to that effect.
Perfectly valid reason, right?
Then Trump cut the legs out from under them all, when he went on national television and told NBC’s Lester Holt that Comey was fired because of “the Russia thing.”
Everybody seems to want to forget that part.
During the transition, Jared Kushner spoke with the Russian ambassador “about establishing a secret communications channel between the Trump transition team and Moscow.”
They’ve tried to clean that up, or blow it off as unfounded, but there it is. You’d think that if it was on the up-and-up, it wouldn’t need to be a secret communications channel.
Also, while still a U.S. senator, Jeff Sessions (now Trump’s Attorney General) had communications with the Russian ambassador that he failed to disclose in his confirmation hearing. The resulting uproar was the reason Sessions stepped away from anything involving the Russia probe.
Stepping away and putting Rosenstein in charge led to the appointment of Robert Mueller as special counsel.
And speaking of Mueller, one more indisputable fact: After his appointment, his character and qualifications were widely praised, even by Trump loyalists, like Newt Gingrich.
Mueller became the devil when it appeared he was taking his appointment seriously and latched on to every conceivable detail of the Russia probe, from actual collusion to outliers like money laundering and fraud.
OH – and here’s an extra: Lawmakers voted to impose sanctions on Russia for their meddling in the election, but Trump refuses to sign off on those sanctions. Why?
So while Nunes and his band of Trumplican lawmakers are using that memo as a shiny object to distract the public, we shouldn’t forget that the Russia probe is happening for a reason.