Republicans throw the FBI under the bus with ‘memo’

Let there be no doubt: Had it been Democratic President Barack Obama and Democrats in Congress who made public a classified memo on the FBI, Republicans would be using words such as “impeachment” and “traitor.”

After all, the GOP has long claimed to be the law-and-order party, and Republican President Donald J. Trump was effusive in his praise for the FBI and other law-enforcement agencies in the 2016 campaign.

But, last week’s release of the GOP- produced classified memo asserting that the FBI and Justice Department abused their surveillance powers to monitor communications of a Trump campaign associate is an attack on the credibility of the nation’s premiere domestic law- enforcement and intelligence agency.

Why would the president and his GOP allies on Capitol Hill take such an extreme and unprecedented action? The answer lies in Trump’s belief that the “deep state” – an alleged shadowy network of powerful entrenched federal and military interests – is conspiring to undermine the legitimacy of his presidency.

The ongoing investigation into Russia’s interference in the 2016 presidential election and whether the Trump campaign colluded with the Russians has angered the president. Thus, he wasted no time last week in embracing the memo on FBI surveillance powers prepared by the GOP majority on the House Intelligence Committee.

“This memo totally vindicates ‘Trump’ in probe,” the president tweeted. “But the Russian Witch Hunt goes on and on. [There] was no Collusion and there was no Obstruction (the word now used because, after one year of looking endlessly and finding NOTHING, collusion is dead). This is an American disgrace.”

But Republicans and Democrats in Congress agree that the memo does not vindicate the president. Indeed, lawmakers expressed the hope Sunday that special counsel Robert Mueller’s work would continue without interference.

Though the president has portrayed the investigation as a political witch hunt, it is not. The probe was launched because of compelling evidence that a foreign government sought to influence the outcome of the presidential election.

All Americans regardless of political affiliation should worry that Russian President Vladimir Putin would, through his surrogates, seek to undermine the candidacy of Democrat Hillary Clinton.

POISONING OF DEMOCRACY

The Mueller investigation is about our democracy being poisoned by a foreign government. It must be allowed to continue unimpeded.

Any attempt by President Trump to force Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein to fire Mueller must be blocked by Congress with the threat of impeachment.

Rosenstein is overseeing the Justice Department’s Russia probe because Attorney General Jeff Sessions recused himself.

The idea that the FBI memo taints the entire investigation is ludicrous.

In fact, given the purely partisan nature of the document prepared by Republicans on the intelligence committee, Democrats have every right to demand release of their version of what occurred when the Justice Department and FBI sought a warrant from the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court to place Trump campaign adviser Carter Page under surveillance.

Republicans contend the FBI’s application for a warrant relied excessively on an ex-British spy whose opposition research was funded by Democrats.

But the FBI memo also confirms that the investigation into Trump’s links to Russia actually began several months earlier and was “triggered” by information involving a different campaign aide.

It is inconceivable that a FISA judge would issue a warrant based on just one piece of evidence. In fact, the FBI went back several times seeking surveillance authority.

But given that Trump and the Republicans in Congress are using the memo to delegitimize the entire Russia probe, a full disclosure of all the facts surrounding the Carter Page surveillance is demanded.

Since President Trump authorized the declassification of the information in the FBI memo, thus giving the House Intelligence Committee the green light to make it public, similar action is justified on the Democrats’ version of the application process for the surveillance warrant.

Republicans opened the door to such a public airing of what has been a secret process, so fairness demands total transparency on this particular issue.

Republicans on the House committee joined Democrats on Monday in voting to release the Democratic version of the FBI memo. The document now goes to the president who will decide whether to declassify its contents. Trump’s refusal would confirm the view that the GOP threw the FBI under the bus for purely political reasons.


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