- GOP Rep. Devin Nunes wants to release up to five more memos on wrongdoing within the federal government with regard to the Russia probe and investigations into President Donald Trump’s inner circle.
- The memos concern alleged misconduct at the State Department and mention political operatives with close ties to the Clinton family.
- One of the operatives authored a second dossier on Trump’s ties to Russia which is currently under FBI scrutiny.
- Because Nunes’s first memo did not deliver the bombshell revelations Trump allies had hoped it would, subsequent memos may face significant hurdles even within the Republican Party.
House Intelligence Committee chairman Devin Nunes says he has several more memos up his sleeve and hopes to release up to five of them in the near future, according to an Axios report.
Nunes’s first memo was released on Friday and presented unconfirmed allegations of misconduct by the Justice Department and the FBI. The memo claims that investigators used the controversial dossier authored by former British spy Christopher Steele to obtain a warrant to surveil Carter Page, a former foreign policy adviser for President Donald Trump’s 2016 campaign. The dossier, which details Trump’s supposed ties to Russia, was partially funded by the Democratic Party, and most of its central claims remain uncorroborated.
Now Nunes wants to keep his momentum going by releasing up to five more memos he has reportedly authored that detail wrongdoing at a variety of government agencies and departments, including the State Department, but it is unlikely they will go through the same unusual process that led to his first memo’s release on Friday.
“We are in the middle of what I call phase two of our investigation, which involves other departments, specifically the State Department and some of the involvement that they had in this,” Nunes told Fox News host Bret Baier on Friday. “That investigation is ongoing, and we continue to work towards finding answers and asking the right questions to try to get to the bottom of what exactly the State Department was up to in terms of this Russia investigation.”
Clinton confidantes and a second Trump-Russia dossier
A Republican source on the House Intelligence Committee told Axios that there was a common thread throughout the memos Nunes has prepared.
“There are several areas of concern where federal agencies used government resources to try to create a narrative and influence the election,” the source said. “Some have suggested coordination with Hillary Clinton operatives, [Sidney] Blumenthal and [Cody] Shearer, to back up the false narrative.”
Blumenthal is a journalist, political aide, and longtime ally of former President Bill Clinton and former 2016 presidential candidate Hillary Clinton who also has financial connections to the family. His email correspondence with Hillary Clinton while she was secretary of state was subpoenaed by Republicans during the investigation into the 2012 attack on a US diplomatic compound in Benghazi. Blumenthal was also paid $US10,000 a month as an employee of the Clinton Foundation, all while advising Hillary Clinton during her work at the State Department, according to Bloomberg.
Cody Shearer, an activist and journalist who also had close ties to the Clinton family since the 1990s, is the author of another, second dossier on Trump’s connections to Russia, according to The Guardian. Although Shearer does not have the same intelligence background as Steele does, his dossier independently arrived at many of the same conclusions as former spy. The Shearer dossier was passed around to media organisations before the 2016 election and was not taken particularly seriously early on.
But now that that the FBI is reportedly in the process of assessing Shearer’s dossier and following up on leads it presents, a Guardian source says it is gaining credibility.
It is still unclear how, if at all, Shearer and Blumenthal may have cooperated with government departments to malign Trump and his campaign, but given Shearer and Blumenthal’s ties to the Clintons, Nunes is likely to present any information they might have gathered as being politically motivated and partisan in nature, just as he did in the case of the Steele dossier.
Coming up short
Nunes remains committed to releasing these memos despite the fact his initial, much-hyped disclosure failed to live up to predictions about its bombshell revelations. Because the memo omitted key details, made claims that were not fully substantiated, and failed to delve into the trove of documents Nunes and the House Intelligence Committee had at their disposal, it largely failed to answer the key question at its center: was the surveillance warrant against Page properly obtained?
Democrats on the House Intelligence Committee wrote a corresponding memo to Nunes’s that claims to give context for his claims and provides additional information his memo left out, and are likely to hold a vote on its release on Monday.
The weight of future memos from Nunes will depend on how seriously Republicans will continue to lean on him as a credible source in the counter-investigation into the Russia probe. Several Republicans, including four from the Intelligence Committee, have distanced themselves from Trump’s own claims that the memo “totally vindicates” him in the Russia investigation.
“I want to stress: Bob Mueller should be allowed to turn over every rock, pursue every lead so that we can have trust in knowing what actually the Russians did or did not do,” Rep. Will Hurd said on ABC’s “This Week.” “I don’t believe this is an attack on Bob Mueller. I don’t believe this is an attack on the men and women in the FBI. I’ve served shoulder-to-shoulder with them, and they are hard-working folks that keep us safe.”
“I actually don’t think it has any impact on the Russia probe,” Rep. Trey Gowdy said on CBS’s “Face the Nation.”
Gowdy was one of the authors of the memo, along with Nunes.
But Trump himself has continued to hold Nunes and his revelations in high regard.
“Representative Devin Nunes, a man of tremendous courage and grit, may someday be recognised as a Great American Hero for what he has exposed and what he has had to endure!” he tweeted on Monday.
It remains to be seen how the five memos Nunes still hopes to release will hold up to public scrutiny.
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