The release of a highly controversial Republican memo detailing alleged surveillance abuses by the FBI during the 2016 election was meant to discredit the ongoing investigation by special counsel Robert Mueller on Trump campaign’s possible collusion with Russia. However, sources report that it achieved nothing. But it could be an early indicator that the political divide in the country at the moment is not going to heal anytime soon.
Trump says that the memo released by the chairman of the House Intelligence Committee Devin Nunes is proof that the ongoing Russia investigation is a “witch hunt.” However, a planned memo release by the Democrats could throw this argument in disarray.
The Democratic Party argues that the Nunes memo was grossly misleading and important details were omitted in order to suit a certain narrative. These confrontations cast a big shadow of doubt on whether it’s possible to conduct a neutral investigation on a sitting president. The current political climate is very toxic and the country is polarized.
Democrats say that the Republican memo was designed to torpedo the Mueller investigation and discredit whatever findings it may unravel. Some say that the memo was a pretext for finding an excuse to fire Mueller and put the ongoing probe to an end.
Republicans have not made any effort to reject this theory. House Speaker Paul Ryan said that even though he backed the release of the memo, he was confident that it will not impugn the Mueller investigation. However, his assurance was half-hearted.
The FBI has long been a politically neutral organization. Its independence and reputation have remained very central in its work but it seems that all these standards are about to go down the drain. Liberals in Washington have come to the defense of the Bureau against what they call a “purge” by the current administration. Although they have criticized the way the FBI handled the Clinton email investigation, they believe that the Mueller investigation should be allowed to run its course without interference by the White House.
On the other hand, the Democratic memo was written by Rep. Adam Schiff, the top liberal sitting on the House Intelligence Committee. Minority leader in the Senate, Chuck Schumer, wrote to the president asking the declassification of the Schiff memo and its immediate release. Schumer argues that the Schiff memo is based on the same intelligence documents used by Nunes. He added that the memo will show Americans that the Nunes release had intended to undermine the Mueller investigation.
Democrats on the House Intelligence Committee are expected to push for a vote on Monday for the memo to be released. If the vote goes through, Trump will have five days to object its release. It’s not clear what the game plan is at the moment for the White House. Trump critics say that the Nunes memo has proved nothing and any attempt to stop the Mueller investigation could easily be construed as obstruction of justice. It’s going to be an intriguing week in Washington though.