#MemoDay: A tale told by an idiot, signifying nothing

House Intelligence Committee Chairman Devin Nunes. “To call Devin Nunes Donald Trump’s lapdog would be an insult to dogs and laps,” said comedian Jimmy Kimmel.

Congressional Republicans have shown they are willing to sacrifice what little honor they had left by backing the release of the infamous Devin Nunes memo alleging abuses by the FBI and the Justice Department. Too bad they will get nothing for their trouble but the increased enmity of the men and women of the entire U.S. intelligence community.

The memo is a tempest in a teacup. A nothingburger. To quote Shakespeare’s Macbeth, “It is a tale told by an idiot, full of sound and fury, signifying nothing.”

The focus of the memo written by GOP staffers from the House Intelligence Committee is the FISA warrant application for Carter Page, the former foreign-policy adviser to Donald Trump during the 2016 presidential election campaign. Page used to be an investment banker at Merrill Lynch, specializing in Russia and other Eastern European countries. He lived in Russia from 2004-07. A Bloomberg profile of Page described him as having “deep ties to Russian business” and being highly critical of U.S. sanctions against Russia.

The memo is an obvious attempt to undermine the ongoing investigation of Special Prosecutor Robert Mueller’s investigation into Trump and his campaign’s ties to Russia. It is filled with cherry-picked facts, claiming that a surveillance warrant on Page was obtained and renewed with information from a person “with an anti-Trump agenda” without mentioning other intelligence sources justifying the warrant. Here’s how The Washington Post sums it up:

It accuses former officials who approved the surveillance applications – a group that includes former FBI Director James B. Comey, his former deputy Andrew McCabe, former Deputy Attorney General Sally Yates, and current Deputy Attorney General Rod J. Rosenstein — of signing off on court surveillance requests that omitted key facts about the political motivations of the person supplying some of the information, Christopher Steele, a former intelligence officer in Britain. …

The memo is not an intelligence document and reflects information the committee has gathered, which Democrats, the FBI, and Justice Department have criticized as incomplete and misleading.

The memo’s release has been strongly opposed by those in the intelligence community because of the obvious harm it could cause for intelligence agents. The plans for the release even drew a public rebuke of Trump from the FBI.

The Post story further quoted California Rep. Adam Schiff, the ranking Democrat on the House Intelligence Committe who (unlike Nunes) has read the intelligence reports. Schiff pointed out the obvious: “No, Mr. President it’s worse than that. The country’s top elected leader has agreed to selectively and misleadingly release classified info to attack the FBI — that’s what would have been unthinkable a short time ago.”

Trump was on a Twitter rampage before the memo’s release, claiming that those same top people at the FBI and the Department of Justice obviously were “in favor of Democrats.” Here’s a reaction to that silly statement from one Democratic senator.

The memo’s release is drawing predictable reactions. Trump and congressional Republicans are thrilled, even though there’s no there there. Trump claimed that “A lot of people should be ashamed of themselves and much worse than that.”

I can think of lots of people who should be ashamed, and they all have an “R” after their names.

Trump and Republicans further claim they are releasing the memo because of the need for “transparency.”

You know what would be really transparent? The release of Trump’s taxes. That would give Mueller lots of information about the Trump family’s business dealings in Russia, and the American people could see just how deep those ties run.

Here’s one Republican who wasn’t so thrilled with the memo’s release.

When Macbeth speaks the line quoted at the beginning, he is referring to life, which he now sees as meaningless. His wife is dead, he has committed multiple murders, he has betrayed everyone around him, he is haunted by ghosts, and his power as king is fractured and gone. How long until Trump and his Republican enablers in Congress realize that “Life’s but a walking shadow, a poor player/
That struts and frets his hour upon the stage”?

We can only hope that Republicans’ hour may be running out before too long.

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