The Nunes memo has been approved to be released, after months of wrangling and an increasingly hostile war of words. Finally, the veil has been lifted over the ‘explosive’ contents of Devin Nunes memo, claiming bias within the FBI and the DOJ. Having read the memo over, the general reaction is…confusion.
Reading over, the memo is just a half-cooked pot of selective views on the infamous Steele dossier and what is essentially a character assassination of Christopher Steele, Ohr, and Strzok. Few of its claims can really be upheld and for the most part, it details information that we already knew, albeit with a Republican slant. Their angle is that Steele’s dossier was funded by Democrats to make Trump look bad, that Steele was an unreliable FBI informant, that Ohr’s wife being close to Democrats makes him biased and that Strzok’s texts point to anti-Trump sentiment in the FBI, right to the top.
It’s all so…bland. There’s no other word for it. The only thing it tells us are opinions that were already widely touted within Trump’s inner circle. Far from exploding the political scene with a bang, the memo is a meager whimper. It is a summer blockbuster that tanked at the box office: a lot of hype and marketing for something that was, in the end, not worth all the hassle.
Perhaps it was to be expected. It puts Paul Ryan’s warning that Republicans shouldn’t get too excited about the memo’s release into perspective. Four pages is a surprisingly sparse amount of paper and there is only so much you can type on it. It’s also worth noting that the memo isn’t an analysis or a report in itself. To all intents and purposes, it is a sticky note pinned on Trump’s desk. It tells us nothing special and it contains personal opinions, not cold, hard facts.
But perhaps its purpose has already been fulfilled. James Comey seems to think so:
That’s it? Dishonest and misleading memo wrecked the House intel committee, destroyed trust with Intelligence Community, damaged relationship with FISA court, and inexcusably exposed classified investigation of an American citizen. For what? DOJ & FBI must keep doing their jobs.
— James Comey (@Comey) February 2, 2018
The memo’s main objective seems to be a small part of a grander plan: to manufacture mistrust and sow the seeds of discord in American institutions that are designed to protect the people from unchecked power. The whole furor seems to prove that point. Trump has railed against the memo, saying that it is disturbing how the FBI could possibly dislike him so much. The truth is, Trump is trying to weaken his own intelligence agencies until they either collapse or they become his lackeys.
And then, of course, there’s Mueller and the Russian investigation. With the memo released, Trump thinks he’s within his rights to fire Mueller and get rid of the cloud that has been hanging over him since he won the election. He thinks he can do better than Richard Nixon and cover up his crimes while staying in office. He’s seen off worse accusations against his character, or so he believes.
If that is Trump’s aim and if the GOP is behind on that idea, they will be in for a shock. There will be a massive outcry, large-scale protests and a constitutional crisis that will tear the White House apart. The government will be in disarray, especially if Trump has to fire multiple people until someone is gutless and loyal enough to fire Mueller. It could even be that firing Mueller would provide one of his staff with a perfect excuse to leak what Mueller has on Trump and his associates, blow the lid on what they know and what they were investigating. The fallout would be catastrophic.
The memo is a lackluster set of opinions on paper that most people already knew the Republicans were convinced of, but the wider implications of its release point to a more nefarious plot.