As President Donald Trump prepares to deliver his first State of the Union message to Congress, there are verbal fisticuffs on Capitol Hill over the House Intelligence Committee’s party-line vote to release the contents of a memo that many believe will shatter a probe into alleged Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election.
Harvard law professor Alan Dershowitz says the public has a right to know what is in the so-called “FISA (for Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act) Memo.” Democrats want to keep the memo’s contents confidential, and a lot of people are wondering why. It could have a significant impact, many believe, on the investigation of Russian activities by special counsel Robert Mueller.
According to The Hill, the memo was drafted by committee staff for Chairman Devin Nunes (R-CA). It apparently contains possible blockbuster revelations about surveillance abuses by the Justice Department. The Hill reported that, “Some Republicans who have read the Nunes memo have hinted heavily that it contains information that could unravel the entire Mueller investigation, long described by the president as a ‘witch hunt.’”
As explained by The Hill, the FISA memo is “believed to contain allegations that the FBI did not adequately explain to a clandestine court that some of the information it used in a surveillance warrant application for Trump adviser Carter Page came from opposition research partially funded by Hillary Clinton’s campaign, now known as the ‘Steele dossier.’”
Dershowitz, quoted by Newsmax, observed, “The American public has the right to see it, has the right to know why it’s classified, has the right to know whether it could be presented to the public redacted, with just whatever is absolutely essential to national security perhaps being redacted.”
The controversy has literally taken on a life of its own during the first year of the Trump administration. What began as an investigation of possible Trump campaign misbehavior expanded to ultimately envelope Hillary Clinton’s time at the State Department, a uranium deal, the Clinton Foundation, her campaign’s “opposition research” and enough questionable activity as to seem like the plot of a bad miniseries, if not a soap opera.
Dershowitz insists that “The American public is entitled to see all that” is in the memo, which reportedly only spans four pages. That’s not very long, considering what many believe is in it.
If the memo reveals things about the FBI’s handling of the Clinton email investigation that may stain the agency, then Dershowitz is right when he insists, “I want to hear why it’s not being made public and why the Justice Department, or anybody else in Congress or anywhere else, is trying to keep the American public from seeing what could be an important document.”
Through it all, the president has maintained that he has done nothing wrong. Many are wondering if he will reference this drama during his State of the Union address Tuesday evening.
They are also wondering if the memo contains information that will go far beyond derailing Mueller’s probe; revelations that just might be damaging to insiders who tried to turn the FBI into a political weapon during the 2016 campaign.