Judiciary Democrats: Republicans Are Complicit in Efforts to Obstruct Justice with Release of Nunes Memo

Feb 2, 2018 Issues: Law Enforcement, Russia Investigation, Trump

Washington, D.C. – Today, House Judiciary Committee Ranking Member Jerrold Nadler (D-NY) and Democratic Members of the House Judiciary Committee, issued a joint statement following the release of the “Nunes memo,” a set of misleading talking points drafted by the Republican staff of the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence in an attempt to discredit the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) and undermine Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s Russia investigation:

“President Trump’s decision to allow the release of Chairman Nunes’ Republican talking points is part of a coordinated propaganda effort to discredit, disable and defeat the Russia investigation.  House Republicans are now accomplices to a shocking campaign to obstruct the work of the Special Counsel, to undermine the credibility and legitimacy of the Justice Department and the FBI, and to bury the fact that a foreign adversary interfered with our last election. 

“This Republican campaign is a betrayal of the American people.  None of this is a surprise coming from President Trump, who has a long track record of dangerous irresponsibility and disregard for the rule of law.  But, until now, Congressional Republicans simply ignored and provided cover to this Administration’s obvious, coordinated attempt to protect President Trump at any cost.  But releasing these Nunes talking points—likely prepared in coordination with the Trump White House—constitutes a deliberate and active complicity in the Administration’s attempts to undermine the Special Counsel and the FBI. 

“House Republicans have put the President’s self-interest and their own political objectives above the needs of the country.  The FBI warned that the Bureau has, “grave concerns about material omissions of fact that fundamentally impact the memo’s accuracy.”

“Despite the intelligence community’s unanimous conclusion that our last election was compromised, and their warning that Russia and others will attempt to interfere in our next election, President Trump and the Republicans have taken no action to secure our democracy against sabotage from foreign adversaries.  Republicans seem not to care that President Trump has tried to pressure all three of his FBI directors to make the Russia investigation go away, and continues to smear career officials with lies and innuendo.  And now, with the release of the Nunes talking points—a deliberately misleading document that politicizes and distorts highly classified information in order to discredit our intelligence and law enforcement agencies—President Trump has successfully added the Republican Majority in Congress as accessories to his continuing obstruction of justice.

“Instead of cooperating with a legitimate and serious investigation, President Trump has decided to attack and undermine the institutions and personnel dedicated to upholding the rule of law.  These institutions were in place long before Donald Trump became president, and they will continue to exist long after he leaves – though not before President Trump makes his best attempt to irrevocably damage them.

“Republicans, for their part, have done nothing—despite their constitutional duty—to hold a reckless Administration accountable for its actions.  At the very least, they should have the courage to join us in protecting Mr. Mueller from political interference until this investigation is complete.  We urge our Republican colleagues to finally put country above party and work with us to protect the institutions at the core of our democracy.  Instead, they have merely become accomplices to a dangerous and possibly criminal executive, aiding and abetting the destruction of the Special Counsel investigation.”

The statement is from Democratic Members of the U.S. House Judiciary Committee, including: Representatives Jerrold Nadler (D-NY), Zoe Lofgren (D-CA), Sheila Jackson Lee (D-TX), Steve Cohen (D-TN), Hank Johnson (D-GA), Ted Deutch (D-FL), Luis Gutierrez (D-IL), Karen Bass (D-CA), Cedric Richmond (D-LA), Hakeem Jeffries (D-NY), David Cicilline (D-RI), Eric Swalwell (D-CA), Ted Lieu (D-CA), Jamie Raskin (D-MD), Pramila Jayapal (D-WA), and Val Demings (D-FL).

On January 31, 2018, the FBI released a statement to express their “grave concerns about the material omissions of fact that fundamentally impact the memo’s accuracy.”  Ahead of the House Intelligence Committee vote to release the memo publicly, Department of Justice Assistant Attorney General Stephen Boyd wrote to Intelligence Committee Chairman Devin Nunes (R-CA) to express his concerns, calling the move “extraordinarily reckless.” According to recent reports, White House Chief of Staff John Kelly held meetings or phone calls with senior Justice Department officials to inform them of White House expectations and to express disdain for the  DOJ letter.

On February 1, 2018, Ranking Member Nadler sent a letter to Chairman Bob Goodlatte (R-VA), to request an emergency briefing with Federal Bureau of Investigation Director Christopher Wray, on his concerns regarding the “Nunes memo.”

On January 30, 2018, House Judiciary Committee Republicans repeatedly blocked Democratic requests to discuss concerns related to the “Nunes memo” and to allow Judiciary Members to read the memo’s source material. Watch part one here. Watch part two here.  

On January 23, 2018, after reviewing the “Nunes memo,” Ranking Member Nadler immediately wrote to Chairman Bob Goodlatte to express his concerns regarding its accuracy and to ask that the source material be made available to all Members of the Judiciary Committee. 

The House Committee on the Judiciary has not held a single hearing on efforts by the Trump Administration and its Republican supporters in Congress to undermine the Special Counsel’s investigation into connections between the Trump campaign and the Russian government. Judiciary Republicans have also taken no action to address the ongoing threat Russia poses to the U.S. federal election system—despite pledging to do so when adopting the Committee’s oversight plan.

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