I don’t understand this Rep. Devin Nunes, R-Calif., memo fight. Neither do you.
What I do understand is that one side alleges the FBI targeted the Trump campaign during the 2016 campaign. This team includes Nunes, the White House, and right-leaning media. The other side of this equation, which includes of Rep. Adam Schiff, D-Calif, FBI brass, and the usual in the press, says Nunes and his allies are lying. Not only is he lying to protect the president, Schiff and others assert, but the allegations against the FBI are dangerous to the morale of the U.S. intelligence community
Here’s another thing I understand: Any response to Nunes that includes an admission the FBI is capable of corrupt and unethical behavior is a bad idea. If you want to counter the California Republican, don’t do it by conceding the FBI is exceptionally good at the very things for which it stands accused.
Enter Washington Post columnist Eugene Robinson, who chose to do exactly that in an op-ed this week titled, “Trump has picked a fight with the FBI. He’ll be sorry.”
“Presidents don’t win fights with the FBI," Robinson writes. "Donald Trump apparently wants to learn this lesson the hard way.”
He added, “[Trump] and his hapless henchmen on Capitol Hill, led by [Nunes] have chosen the wrong enemy. History strongly suggests they will be sorry.”
Though Robinson details some of the FBI’s past transgressions, he does this not to ponder the implications of the agency's past brushes with extremely unethical behavior, but to argue the group is more underhanded than Trump could ever hope to be.
“The idea that the likes of Trump and Nunes are going to put a scratch on the FBI with ludicrous innuendo … and selectively edited memos would be laughable, if Mueller and his team were the laughing kind. Which they’re not,” he writes.
He added, “Trump and his minions seem to think they can out-leak the FBI. Obviously they haven’t been paying attention."
This is not a resounding defense of the bureau.
Right now, it’s basically Nunes’ word against Schiff. The whole thing is a mess, and no one involved is particularly trustworthy.
Nunes, who chairs the House Intelligence Committee, is a partisan operative. He was even involved in Trump’s transition team. Schiff, the ranking Democratic member of the Intelligence Committee, is also a partisan and untrustworthy player. Then there’s Trump himself. Har, har, har.
There’s also the FBI, which, naturally, has a history of secrecy.
Lastly, there’s the issue that the Nunes memo is still just a summation of materials the public has been unable to see or read. For us to get close to the truth of what is happening here, we’re going to have to see all of the materials upon which Nunes’ conclusions are based. Otherwise we’re just seeing events through his filter.
Forgive me for being skeptical.