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Breaking Down The Significance of Devin Nunes and The Memo

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We touched on this in our weekly news wrap, but since Friday’s anticipated memo release party is barreling ahead, we decided to try and upack this whole shitstorm in a bit more detail.

To do that, we have to start with Devin Nunes, California’s 22nd District representative. Nunes is a Trump guy – like the kind with his nose so far up the president’s ass, he can tell describe the scent when that unfortunate white pants golfing picture was taken.

Devin Nunes caricature. Illustration courtesy of DonkeyHotey/Flickr

The Fresno Bee Editorial Board called him Trump’s stooge and Joe Scarborough called him a “clown” that “allowed himself to play the dupe for the White House” in a very weird press conference stunt earlier this year.

To put those assessments into context, the Fresno Bee reports in one of the very few, truly moderate counties in California – with a 2 percent spread between Republican and Democratic voters, and although Joe Scarborough is an anchor on MSNBC’s Morning Joe, until very recently, he was also a steadfast Republican that once served as Florida’s 1st District representative…as a Republican. Neither are exactly “snowflakes.” So yes, Nunes is a Trump guy.

But Nunes is also the House Intelligence Committee chairman, and that same committee is one of at least three committees/agencies investigating Russian interference during the 2016 election. Robert Mueller’s FBI investigation is obviously the most robust, and the most scary for anyone who might have reason to be scared, but the House investigation is still in the game. The problem for Nunes is that, even as chairman, he was basically forced to recuse himself from any Russia-related investigations because he himself was being investigated by the Ethics Committee for that weird shit he did last March. You can check out Wired’s pretty cohesive timeline for the incident, but the jest of it goes like this:

He was tipped off by White House staff about some “intelligence” alleging Trump was surveilled, he then ran directly to Trump to tell him all about it, he held two press conferences to tell the world all about it and then admitted that he wasn’t quite sure the information had anything to do with Trump at all because the names were masked. Did you follow that? Somewhere in there, Sen. Lindsey Graham accuses him of conducting an “Inspector Clouseau investigation” and Democrats demand he recuse himself, which he eventually conceded to…sort of.

Photo courtesy of AP/J. Scott Applewhite

The underlying problem for the rest of us is that he didn’t really follow the rules of the whole “recusal” thing – he continued to issue subpoenas and reportedly wrote demand letters for DOJ documents, about the Russia stuff, which he wasn’t supposed to be part of. So there’s that.

The whole point to that long winded background is to simply clarify, without a shadow of a doubt, that Nunes sucks at his job and he has repeatedly demonstrated an affinity for protecting Trump, specifically from Russia investigations…while being in charge of a committee charged with investigating Trump and Russia. That’s about as layman as I can make it.

Then January comes along and the Special Counsel investigation hits a rapid boil. There was a flurry of reporting around Jan. 8 that indicated the Trump legal team and Mueller’s team were hammering out terms of a possible interview with the president. We find out Jan. 23 that Jeff Sessions had already been interviewed by Mueller’s team, voluntarily. The probe was at their door.

All previous attempts by Trump and his loyalists to discredit the Mueller investigation had thus far fallen short, or weren’t working quickly enough. But Nunes still had one up his sleeve. Calls to release the “shocking” four-page memo, that basically nobody had seen, went viral in about a day, Jan. 18. That’s no coincidence – because people that track Russian bot traffic basically told us that Russia was hardcore pushing the #ReleaseTheMemo narrative.  

The memo was written by Nunes staffers and supposedly taps into very specific points about how the FBI requested FISA warrants to collect foreign intelligence. It alleges an overreach and bias, as far as we can tell. According to the FBI, what the Nunes team fails to do is offer a full account. Cherry picking certain facts without context can render the material inaccurate.

Nunes and his team of groupies have mustered up enough technical language to appear legit, without actually being legit. But let’s not forget that what he’s peddling is a direct appeal from the man being investigated, because as we previously stated, Nunes is a Trump guy.

Photo courtesy of John Moore/Getty Images

This “memo” is a very dangerous distraction from the real inquiry at hand: Is Donald Trump, and everybody he worked with, a pig puppet for Vladimir Putin? It’s a valid fucking question.

Anywho, the Republican majority of the House Intelligence Committee voted to release the Nunes-drafted memo. The FBI has since warned against it, citing “grave concerns.” But Trump has the final say, or no say. By saying nothing, he’s effectively giving the thumbs up and all reports indicate that he plans to let it run Friday without any redactions. The memo, written by the Trump guy investigating Trump, and its selectively supporting data could be released for public consumption any minute. Little, skewed bombshells of protected information without context – essentially screwing the FBI and its influence in all sorts of FBI-type activities, which we kind of depend on.

Here’s how that plays out in their best case scenario:

Trump’s shrinking base will be reinvigorated by outrage over “deep state” corruption. Trump will feel empowered to fire Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein as a symbolic sacrifice and he’ll appoint a replacement attached to the lining of his pocket, who will kill the Special Counsel’s Russian probe. Viola.

And Nunes, of all damn people, is the puppet making it all happen.  

So much for the party of “law and order.”

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Nik Wojcik - East Bay Editor

Nik Wojcik - East Bay Editor

Journalist, editor, student, single mom to a pack of wolves, foodie, music lover, resident smart ass, and champion of vulgarity and human kindness.