ReleaseTheMemo is working.A new poll by Reuters/Ipsos published Monday shows that three out of four Republicans believe the FBI and Department of Justice are trying to delegitimize President Trump — a clear reversal for the traditional party of law and order. Democrats say that’s exactly what Republicans on the House Intelligence Committee were aiming for when they hyped and then published their memo alleging profound anti-Trump bias among federal investigators.
Just last month 91 percent of Republicans said they had confidence in the country’s law enforcement agencies, according to Reuters.“The president’s decision to publicly release a misleading memo attacking DOJ & FBI is a transparent attempt to discredit these institutions and undermine [special counsel Robert] Mueller’s probe,” the ranking Democrat on the House Intelligence Committee, Rep. Adam Schiff, tweeted. Democrats warn that if Trump uses the allegations in the memo to fire Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein, it would trigger a constitutional crisis. Asked on Friday whether he had confidence in Rosenstein, Trump told reporters, “You figure that out.”READ: Former spies warn the Nunes memo would be a “train wreck” for intelligence sharing worldwideThe four-page Republican memo, compiled by House Intelligence Committee chairman Devin Nunes, a California Republican, describes how FBI investigators used information from a controversial dossier funded by Trump’s political opponents when requesting permission from a judge to surveil former Trump campaign adviser Carter Page in October 2016 over his connections with Russia. The memo alleges that investigators were not forthcoming with the court about how the information in the dossier was procured. Nunes has since walked that claim back a bit, conceding that the application to the court did in fact include a footnote about the dossier’s political roots.
Republicans hyped the memo’s allegations for two weeks on social media and cable news using the hashtag #ReleaseTheMemo, and then voted to release it last week. President Trump signed off Friday, making the memo public. White House officials told the Washington Post Trump did not read the memo before a hot mic caught him telling a lawmaker that he would release it “100%.”Trump tweeted Saturday that the memo “totally vindicates” him, calling special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation into his 2016 campaign’s ties to Russia and his efforts to obstruct justice a “witch hunt.” But the Reuters/Ipsos poll published Monday also found that 52 percent of Americans believe the special counsel will find evidence that the Trump campaign worked with Russia to influence the election.READ: Even Trump’s lawyers think he’ll lie to MuellerThe memo did not mention that the FBI had been surveilling Page prior to the dossier’s existence, nor did it publish the names of the judges involved in the alleged anti-Trump conspiracy. It also did not detail the full list of evidence that at least four different judges relied on when they repeatedly renewed surveillance permission for Page. It did, however, confirm that information about another former Trump campaign advisor, George Papadopoulos — who pleaded guilty to lying to the FBI in October about his communications with Russian officials — spurred the FBI to open a counterintelligence investigation into Russian meddling in July of 2016.After blocking Democrats from releasing their own memo on the same subject last week, Republicans on the House Intelligence Committee voted unanimously Monday night to release that memo, which is expected to defend the FBI and Justice Department by refuting the bias claims made in the Republican memo. Trump has until Friday to decide whether to release the Democratic memo.Cover: House Intelligence Committee Chairman Devin Nunes, R-Calif., strides to a GOP conference joined at right by Rep. Peter King, R-N.Y., also a member of the Intelligence Committee, at the Capitol in Washington, Tuesday, Feb. 6, 2018. (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite)