Just a quick update regarding the sturm and drang surrounding the Nunes memo. It has been reported today that the White House will kick the Nunes memo back to the House of Representative and leave it up to the House to decide when (if?) to release. What doesn’t seem to be clear is whether the memo will have redactions. Axios reports there likely won’t be. As does The Washington Examiner. And The New York Times.
Mr. Trump, who had a brief window to block the memo’s disclosure on national security grounds, was expected to tell Congress on Friday that he had no objections and would likely not request any material be redacted, according to a senior administration official. It would then be up to the House Intelligence Committee, whose Republican leaders have pushed for its release, to make the document public.
The president’s decision came despite a growing chorus of warnings from national security officials who say that releasing the document would jeopardize sensitive government information, including how intelligence is gathered, and from Democrats who say it is politically motivated and distorts the actions of the Justice Department and the F.B.I. by omitting crucial context.
But Mr. Trump wanted the memo out. He had told people close to him that he believes it makes the case that law enforcement officials acted inappropriately in seeking the highly classified warrant on one of his campaign advisers, Carter Page.
The outstanding question is whether FBI Director Wray resigns over this. The reporting is all over the place on this too. A lot of it focuses on the fears of the White House that Director Wray will do so.
Top White House aides are worried FBI Director Christopher Wray could quit if the highly controversial Republican memo alleging the FBI abused its surveillance tools is released, multiple sources with knowledge of the situation tell CNN.
Wray has made clear he is frustrated that President Donald Trump picked him to lead the FBI after he fired FBI Director James Comey in May, yet his advice on the Nunes memo is being disregarded and cast as part of the purported partisan leadership of the FBI, according to a senior law enforcement official.
Wray’s stance is “raising hell,” one source familiar with the matter said.
Wray has not directly threatened to resign after clashing with Trump over the possible release of the memo, the source added, because that is not his style of dealing with conflict.
“You can’t threaten resignation every time someone does something dumb,” Chuck Rosenberg says on whether Chris Wray would resign over the memo release.
Director Wray went with then FBI Director Comey and Deputy and Acting Attorney General Comey and told President Bush (43) that they would all resign if he overruled the DOJ and implemented the surveillance program that had been deemed to violate constitutional protections. His new acting deputy is David Bowdich. Bowdich’s bio reads like he’s the poster child for the bureau. He has also been appointed to important positions by both Bob Mueller and James Comey when they were running the FBI. Including his most recent assignment as Associate Director of the FBI.
We just don’t know what will or won’t happen at this point. It is possible that Wray stays on and stay angry and distrustful of the President and we get a repeat or a variant of the President Clinton-Director Freeh relationship from the 1990s.
Jonathan Swan at Axios is reporting, however, that White House officials are now beginning to worry that the Nunes memo will blow up in their faces.
Inside the Trump administration, sources who’ve been briefed on the Nunes memo expect it will be underwhelming and not the “slam dunk” document it’s been hyped up to be.
What we’re hearing: There is much more skepticism inside the administration than has been previously reported about the value of releasing the memo, according to sources familiar with the administration discussions.
This is somewhat in line with my speculation last night that:
I can authoritatively and preemptively state that whatever gets released, keeping Schiff’s statement tonight in context, will be garbage. It will look sloppy to the professionals who will quickly pick it apart. And it will, in short order both blow up in Nunes’ and the Administration’s faces while at the same time become gospel truth on the right and that gospel truth will be disseminated via Fox, Breitbart, Dim Jim, Rush, Drudge, Hewitt, RT, Sputnick, GG, a ton of twitter feeds including Russian bots and trolls, etc.
Remember, the only two members of the House to actually see the underlying classified information are Congressman Gowdy acting as stand in/proxy for the supposed to be recused Congressman Nunes and Congressman Schiff the ranking member of the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence.
Himes voices his concern that the committee will apparently be releasing the memo unredacted, noting that “an immense amount of classified information will be available to the public.” He warns about the dangers of voting on both memos’ release before any of the committee members beyond Schiff and Gowdy view the underlying intelligence.
Congressman Nunes, the staffers that helped him write the memo, the other 431 members of the House and all of their staff, have NOT seen the underlying classified information that Nunes memo is based on. This is not a recipe for doing one’s best work. It also makes me wonder where Congressman Nunes and his staff got the underlying classified information that is, supposedly, in the memo. If they’ve not seen any of the underlying information that the memo allegedly addresses, what exactly is in the memo?
If the President does indeed kick this back to the House of Representatives to release without a declassification order, it will be released under the House’s rules. Specifically Rule X (of the Standing Rules), Clause 11, subsection G.
Once a member of the committee requests such a vote, the committee shall meet within five days to vote on the matter. (That’s what took place last night when the committee convened to vote on the memo’s release.) If the committee approves the public disclosure of classified information that was submitted to it by the executive branch, and the executive branch asks for the information to remain secret, the committee must notify the president about its decision. (Because of the closed nature of the process, and the disagreement within the executive branch, it’s unclear whether the executive branch made a formal request to keep the memo under wraps, but House Republicans are certainly behaving as if that happened.) From there, another five-day clock begins ticking. Once that five-day window expires, the committee may release the information unless the president “personally in writing” has notified them that the disclosure of the information presents a “threat to the national interest … of such gravity that it outweighs any public interest” in the release.
If the president does issue such an objection, the committee has two choices. It can let the matter die, or it can, by majority vote, refer the issue to the full House for a vote. If the committee does send the question to the full chamber, yet another clock begins ticking. If the HPSCI chair does not move to take up the matter within four calendar days on which the House is in session, then any member has the ability to interrupt the House’s daily order of business to move to consider the question in closed session. Debate on whether to disclose the information is limited to two hours.
At this point all we can do is wait.
We are off the looking glass and through the map.