Editorials

The memo is an overhyped distraction. Don’t fall for it, America

Carter Page, a former Trump campaign adviser with links to Russia, is at the center of the controversial Nunes memo.
Carter Page, a former Trump campaign adviser with links to Russia, is at the center of the controversial Nunes memo. Getty Images

Americans want the truth about Russia’s attack on their democracy in the 2016 election. They want to know who was involved, especially anyone connected to the current president, and about any wrongdoing uncovered as this troubling chapter in America’s history is investigated.

A ballyhooed memo released Friday by Republicans controlling the House Intelligence Committee — with the assent of the president — does not shed any light on the situation. The memo does, however, give Americans new insight into the depths President Trump and his allies will sink to undermine the federal investigation into Russia’s interference in the election and any links to Trump’s campaign.

Such a reckless attempt to discredit the FBI and Department of Justice raises serious concerns about a constitutional crisis. Americans must have patience and faith that former FBI Director Robert Mueller, a Republican, will conduct a fair investigation. Until he’s finished and findings are presented, it’s too soon to pass judgment.

On Monday, the House Intelligence Committee voted unanimously to release a Democratic rebuttal to the memo and the GOP accusations that the FBI misled a secret surveillance court. It’s up to President Trump to release it.

Americans can’t get sidetracked by the memo and lose sight of what’s really going on.

The intelligence community concluded that Russia interfered with the 2016 election, including efforts to manipulate opinion and hack voting systems in 21 states. Mueller was appointed special counsel last May and by the end of the year, four Trump advisers, including his former campaign chief and national security adviser, were criminally charged for lying or concealing Russian activities.

A next step in the investigation should be Mueller’s interview of Trump himself.

Now we see a new line of attack, attempting to slime the investigation, with a memo released by a Trump ally, California Republican U.S. Rep. Devin Nunes. Don’t fall for it.

The memo cherry-picks a few morsels from the classified record to insinuate that the FBI’s investigation is tainted by partisan bias. This is far-fetched given that respected Republicans lead the investigation. It’s also rich coming from a president who benefited from the FBI’s publicized investigation of Hillary Clinton’s email handling.

There is no smoking gun in the memo, only a faint, shaky and dotted line between one facet of the investigation and the Clinton campaign. Yes, the record of material used to obtain a warrant to monitor Trump associate Carter Page included a dossier partly funded by the Clinton campaign, as the memo highlights. The dossier was also partly funded by Republicans.

Either way, this dotted line means nothing unless you can see the rest of the lines that drew a net around Page. Without a fuller explanation of what was presented to the court, revelations in the memo do nothing but feed the trolls and suspicions of those inclined to see a twig and ignore the forest.

The real story should emerge soon enough. Then Americans and their Congress can turn their attention to cleaning house, increasing election safeguards and imposing unavoidable sanctions on Russia.

This editorial was first published in the Seattle Times.

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