President Trump broke with the Department of Justice last week by calling for the release of a four-page “FISA memo” purportedly summarizing widespread surveillance absues by the FBI, DOJ and Obama Administration, reports the Washington Post.
The President’s desire was relayed to Attorney General Jeff Sessions by White House Chief-of-Staff John Kelly last Wednesday – putting the Trump White House at odds with the DOJ – which said that releasing the classified memo written by congressional republicans “extraordinarily reckless” without allowing the Department of Justice to first review the memo detailing its own criminal malfeasance during and after the 2016 presidential election.
The decision to release the memo ultimately lies with congress.
Somehow WaPo knew that Kelly and Sessions spoke twice last Wednesday – once in person during a “small-group afternoon meeting” and again that night over the phone.
Trump “is inclined to have that released just because it will shed light,” said a senior administration official who was speaking on the condition of anonymity to recount private conversations. “Apparently all the rumors are that it will shed light, it will help the investigators come to a conclusion.”
The memo, written by staffers for House Intelligence Committee chairman Rep. Devin Nunes (R-CA), was made available for all Congressional House members in mid-January for viewing in a secure room. Lawmakers who have seen the document have called for its release to the general public, as it is said to contain “jaw dropping” revelations of extensive abuse of power and highly illegal collusion between the Obama administration, the FBI, the DOJ and the Clinton Campaign against Donald Trump and his team during and after the 2016 presidential election.
“I have read the memo,” tweeted Rep. Steve King (R-IA), adding “The sickening reality has set in. I no longer hold out hope there is an innocent explanation for the information the public has seen. I have long said it is worse than Watergate. It was #neverTrump & #alwaysHillary. #releasethememo.”
“It is so alarming the American people have to see this,” Ohio Rep. Jim Jordan told Fox News. “It’s troubling. It is shocking,” North Carolina Rep. Mark Meadows said. “Part of me wishes that I didn’t read it because I don’t want to believe that those kinds of things could be happening in this country that I call home and love so much.“
Immediately #ReleaseTheMemo #FISAMemo & ALL relevant material sourced in it. Every American needs to know the truth! We wouldn't be revealing any sources & methods that we shouldn't; only feds' reliance on bad sources & methods.
— Lee Zeldin (@RepLeeZeldin) 19 January 2018
Meanwhile, The Washington Post is spinning Trump’s desire to release the memo as yet another example of the President’s “year-long attempts to shape and influence an investigation that is fundamentally outside his control,” pointing to reports that he wanted to fire special counsel Robert Mueller III last summer (which Trump denies). WaPo also points to Trump’s complaints over Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein for not properly supervising the Mueller probe, and the President’s alleged comments to former FBI Director James Comey demanding loyalty and asking him to back off the investigation into former National Security advisor Michael Flynn, who was fired for misleading Vice President Mice Pence over his contact with Russians.
In other words, Trump has been resisting an active investigation which has yet to prove any collusion, and which has experienced significant mission creep into the personal finances of the Trump team – and The Washington Post is spinning it as Trump once again interfering with an investigation.
So now the President is calling for the release of the four-page FISA memo, which will reportedly put an end to the Russia investigation while quite possibly setting the stage for the criminal prosecution of those involved in trying to frame Trump.
That said, the Washington Post article appears to be nothing more than an exercise in pearl clutching over Trump’s demands for loyalty – as the paper notes that nothing the President has done is likely to lead to criminal charges.
To prove obstruction of justice, Mueller would have to show that Trump didn’t just act to derail the investigation but did so with a corrupt motive, such as an effort to hide his own misdeeds. Legal experts are divided over whether the Constitution allows for the president to be indicted while in office. As a result, Mueller might seek to outline his findings about Trump’s actions in a written report rather than bring them in court through criminal charges. It would probably fall to Rosenstein to decide whether to submit the report to Congress, which has the power to open impeachment proceedings.
As Trump faced growing questions about everything from his June directive to fire Mueller to his more recent grousing about Rosenstein, the White House was largely silent. In response to several specific queries, White House spokesman Hogan Gidley offered a written statement that addressed few of them. –WaPo
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