K E Y P O I N T S
US President Donald Trump on Friday approved the declassification of a Republican-authored memo said to allege wrongdoing at the Department of Justice and FBI
‘A lot of people should be ashamed of themselves’, Trump said
Release was widely seen as a move intended to undermine special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation into Trump’s campaign
Nonetheless, it’s an unprecedented decision – and comes as the Mueller investigation zeroes in on key figures in Trump’s inner circle
FBI ― headed by a Trump appointee ― previously said it had “grave concerns about material omissions of fact that fundamentally impact the memo’s accuracy”
As Republican Senator John McCain vents: “We are doing Putin’s job for him”
A N A L Y S I S
From HuffPost’s Jessica Schulberg and Ryan J. Reilly:
Republicans have hyped the memo’s release for weeks, calling it “worse than Watergate,” while Democrats and the FBI have warned that the document omits key context and that making it public could damage national security and further undermine the public’s faith in the nation’s premier law enforcement organisations.
But the four-page document, which was drafted by Republican staffers in the office of House Intelligence Committee chairman and Trump transition team member Devin Nunes (R-Calif.), reveals little new information.
Its authors focus on complaints of liberal bias among mostly Republican law enforcement officials, while omitting information that does not fit their narrative.
The resulting document is boring and tendentious, and it’s hard to understand why Republicans were so excited to get it out and why the FBI and Democrats were so determined to keep it secret. It’s such a dud that it was probably more valuable to Republicans when it was still a secret document.
T O O M A N Y T W E E T S
M E M O I N F U L L
S O, W H A T N E X T?
The lacklustre contents of the memo gives more credence to the theory, reported first by the Washington Post, that Trump’s move to declassify was designed as a political play vital to his desire to make changes at the Justice Department.
These changes include pushing out Rod Rosenstein, who is overseeing Robert Mueller’s Russia investigation. But the firing of both, Democrats have said, would represent a “constitutional crisis”.
For now, the memo is already being reported by conservative media in America not for its contents but for the reaction the decision has created. Fox News is using the hashtag #MemoDay.
Ultimately, the unprecedented move signals once more that Trump is not a US president who plays by the rules.
PS. There’s now also an interesting discussion in how this whole episode acts as proof for how Fox News and other conservative media in America are driving the country towards “a constitutional crisis”.