Democracy 21: Watchdogs Challenge Irresponsible Nunes Memo that Trump Reportedly May Use to Get Rid of Deputy AG Rosenstein

January 29, 2018

Watchdogs Challenge Nunes Memo that Trump Reportedly May Use to Get Rid of Deputy AG Rosenstein, A Key Player in Russia/Trump Investigation

Watchdogs also Call on Speaker Ryan to Remove Nunes from Any Further Participation in Russia/Trump Investigation

Sixteen watchdog groups and individuals sent a letter to House Speaker Ryan today challenging the so-called “Nunes memo” as irresponsible. The letter called on Speaker Ryan “to act promptly to remove Chairman Nunes from any further participation in any aspect of the Russia investigation.”

The letter also noted reports that President Trump may use the Nunes memo to get rid of Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein. Deputy AG Rosenstein is a key player in the Russia/Trump investigation and has final responsibility at the Justice Department for overseeing the Mueller Special Counsel investigation.

The letter to Speaker Ryan stated:

Published reports state that the Nunes memo specifically alleges abuses by FBI Deputy Director Andrew McCabe and Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein, who is in charge of overseeing the Mueller investigation.

According to a Washington Post article (January 27, 2018), “The president has told close advisers that the memo is starting to make people realize how the FBI and the Mueller probe are biased against him, and that it could provide him with grounds for either firing or forcing Rosenstein to leave, according to one person familiar with his remarks.”

The letter further stated:

According to a New York Times article (January 28, 2018), “Mr. Trump has long been mistrustful of Mr. Rosenstein, the Justice Department’s No. 2 official, who appointed the special counsel, Robert S. Mueller III, and now oversees his investigation into Mr. Trump’s campaign and possible obstruction of justice by the president. Mr. Trump considered firing Mr. Rosenstein last summer. Instead, he ordered Mr. Mueller to be fired, then backed down after the White House counsel refused to carry out the order, The New York Times reported last week. Mr. Trump is now again telling associates that he is frustrated with Mr. Rosenstein, according to one official familiar with the conversations.”

On January 25, 2018, Senator Warner, Ranking Member on the Senate Intelligence Committee,  said, “Any attempt to remove the Special Counsel, pardon key witnesses, or otherwise interfere in the investigation, would be a gross abuse of power, and all members of Congress, from both parties, have a responsibility to our Constitution and to our country to make that clear immediately.”

According to the letter to Speaker Ryan:

Given that he was a member of President Trump’s transition team, Chairman Nunes has had an inherent conflict of interest from the outset in participating in an investigation into the activities of Trump campaign officials and Trump associates. For that reason, Chairman Nunes never should have been put in charge of the Committee’s Russia investigation. This was clearly demonstrated in March when Chairman Nunes engaged in a knowing deception of the American people in trying to provide cover for President Trump.

The letter stated:

Given this blatantly inappropriate action, in which Chairman Nunes engaged in a knowing deception of the American people, you as Speaker should have required him to permanently step away from the Russia investigation at that time.

Instead, Chairman Nunes is still involved in the Russia investigation and has continued to abuse his position. He has shown little interest in getting to the bottom of Russian interference in the 2016 elections, which is the purpose of the Committee investigation.

According to the letter:

In his latest effort, Chairman Nunes and his staff have prepared a classified document that reportedly claims abuses have been committed by FBI and Justice Department officials. This undisclosed document has been used by outside Trump supporters to attack Special Counsel Mueller, the Justice Department and the FBI, and to demand that the classified document be publicly released.

The letter also noted that “Chairman Nunes has reportedly refused to make his memo available to the Justice Department and the FBI to review.”

According to the letter:

On January 24, 2018, Department of Justice Assistant Attorney General Stephen Boyd sent a letter to Chairman Nunes about the classified memo. The letter stated, “We believe it would be extraordinarily reckless for the Committee to disclose such information publicly without giving the Department [of Justice] and the FBI the opportunity to review the memorandum and to advise the HPSCI on the risk of harm to national security and to ongoing investigations that could come from public release.”

The letter from the Justice Department further stated, “Additionally, we believe that wider distribution of the classified information presumably contained within your memorandum would represent a significant deviation from the terms of access negotiated in good faith by the Department, HPSCI, and the office of Speaker Paul Ryan.”

The letter to Speaker Ryan stated:

Under these circumstances, it would be wrong to release the irresponsible Nunes memo to the public – a memo which is, according to the Justice Department, based on underlying documents that Chairman Nunes hasn’t read, and that represents a violation of the agreement that you and Chairman Nunes made with the Justice Department.

The letter concluded:

Nevertheless, if the memo is wrongly released or leaked to the public, in whole or in part, then as Speaker, it is your institutional responsibility to the American people to ensure that all information necessary to determine the truth and accuracy of the Nunes memo is also quickly made available to the public, consistent with legitimate restrictions on the release of classified and sensitive law enforcement information. We call on you to meet this obligation.

We also call on you to act promptly to remove Chairman Nunes from any further participation in any aspect of the Russia investigation.

Signers of the letter are:

American Oversight

Coalition to Preserve, Protect and Defend

Common Cause

CREW

Demand Progress Action

Democracy 21

Equal Justice Society

Free Speech for People

Justin Hendrix

Kathleen Clark

MoveOn.org

Amb. (ret.) Norman Eisen, chief White House ethics lawyer, 2009-2011

People for the American Way

Public Citizen

Revolving Door Project

Richard Painter, chief White House ethics lawyer, 2005-2007

Attachments: (1 total)

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