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Cal Thomas: Memo drama is justified

Writer

Partisans tend to read, watch and listen only, or mostly, to information and opinions that reinforce their beliefs. If information surfaces that counters those beliefs, it is usually disparaged, excused or ignored. That’s human nature.

Such is the case with the “memo” released last Friday by the Republican majority on the House Intelligence Committee. The four-page document alleges, in the words of a Wall Street Journal editorial: “the FBI and the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court appear to have been used to influence the 2016 election and its aftermath.”

If true, that is real collusion.

Conservative partisans are rejoicing and having an “I told you so” moment. Partisans on the left are reading coverage and editorials in The New York Times and the Washington Post and drawing sustenance for their position that the memo is a “nothingburger” and does not undermine Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation into the Trump campaign’s “collusion” with Russia to influence the election. That not a shred of credible evidence has been produced on this point does not deter them.

Critics of the memo, who tried to stop its release, initially contended it undermines and smears the FBI and the Department of Justice. No it doesn’t. It suggests that a few higher-ups in those agencies used their power and influence in an attempt to keep Donald Trump from becoming president and after he was elected to undermine his presidency. Now that the memo has been made public, partisans on the left, who once claimed its release would seriously damage the FBI and the DOJ, now say there is nothing there. It can’t be both a danger and nothing, so which is it?

Politicizing a powerful federal agency is nothing new. Think Lois Lerner and her efforts while at the IRS to thwart tax exemptions for conservative and religious organizations, as well as a few progressives. Or recall how Richard Nixon and his attorney general, John Mitchell, politicized the IRS and Justice Department in an attempt to punish their political enemies.

The most damning part of the memo is the assertion that the FBI and Justice Department used a “dossier” authored by ex-British intelligence officer Christopher Steele and funded in part by the Hillary Clinton campaign and the Democratic National Committee in an attempt to smear Donald Trump. It was this dossier that the government agencies used to convince a FISA judge to issue a warrant allowing Trump campaign official Carter Page and possibly others to be spied on. The memo asserts those seeking the warrant did not tell the judge about the fingerprints of the Democratic Party and Clinton campaign on the dossier. If true, that is criminal and possibly prosecutable behavior.

In an interview with Bret Baier on Fox News Friday, Intelligence Committee Chairman Devin Nunes suggested there is more to come, including release of a memo from the Democratic minority and possibly the full transcript of testimony by Deputy FBI Director Andrew McCabe before a closed meeting of the Intelligence Committee. McCabe signed one of the FISA applications and then-FBI Director James Comey signed three. Nunes contends the subsequent warrants issued by the FISA judge were based on flawed and incomplete information and thus would likely not have been issued had the judge been in possession of additional facts.

The Republican memo is not the end but rather the beginning to exposing behind-the-scenes maneuvering by liberals to keep Donald Trump out of the White House and put Hillary Clinton in. The public has a right to know all the facts in this case, wherever they lead.

Email Cal Thomas at tcaeditors@tribpub.com.

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