Here’s How All the Key Players Reacted to the Nunes Memo
Many Republicans used it to paint the FBI and DOJ as abusive, Democrats railed against its inaccuracies, and right-wing media was divided on its usefulness. Welcome to Memo Day.
House Intel Chair Rep. Devin Nunes (R-CA), who spearheaded the memo’s release, insisted that it revealed “serious violations of public trust” and exposed individuals “in crucial institutions [that] are abusing their authority for political purposes.”
The White House doubled down on supposed concerns about civil liberties, saying that the actions of the FBI and Department of Justice outlined in the memo raised “serious concerns about the integrity of decisions made at the highest levels,” by using the “most intrusive surveillance tools against American citizens.” President Trump had allegedly made up his mind before ever reading the memo, with The Washington Post reporting that he hoped it would build “a public argument against [Deputy Attorney General] Rosenstein.”
Attorney General Jeff Sessions, on the other hand, went off-script to praise Rosenstein shortly before the memo’s release. Noting his deputy’s “27 years in the department,” Sessions said Rosenstein represents “the kind of quality and leadership that we want in the department.”
Following the memo’s release, he released a rather mild statement, admitting that “...no Department is perfect” and he would work with Congress to “ascertain the truth.”
Former Trump campaign adviser Carter Page, who is named as the primary person of interest for the surveillance warrant mentioned in the memo, said that it discovered “unprecedented abuse” and represented “a giant, historic leap in the repair of America’s democracy.”
In an effort to save face with both Trump and Republicans more skeptical of waging war with the FBI, House Majority Leader Paul Ryan (R-WI) said the memo revealed that “American’s civil liberties may have been violated,” but reiterated his support for the release of the Democratic-drafted counter-memo. “It is critical that we… not use this memo to impugn the integrity of the justice system and FBI, which continue to serve the American people with honor," he added.
Rep. Trey Gowdy (R-SC), too, struck a similar tone in his statement, saying that he is “100 percent” confident in Special Counsel Robert Mueller and the “contents of this memo do not—in any way—discredit his investigation.”
Fox News host Sean Hannity, who reportedly advised Trump on the memo, however, thought it showed an “unprecedented Government [sic] abuse of power” and how “Russian lies” were “the basis to obtain a FISA warrant.” The right-wing star had been hyping up the contents of the memo all week on both his radio and TV shows, claiming that the FBI and DOJ “knew [the dossier] was full of lies, and not verified.”
Not all of conservative media found the memo enticing. RedState pointed out a “significant inaccuracy” in that the memo inaccurately summarized what James Comey said during his 2017 testimony. The conservative outlet points out that while the memo accurately quotes Comey as saying the dossier is “salacious and unverified,” the memo failed to mention that Comey “later implied that there were parts of the dossier that were verified.”
Considering that the public does not know which parts of the dossier were used in the surveillance warrant, and which parts of the dossier were verified, RedState said such an inaccuracy calls the memo’s “credibility into question.”
On the other side of the aisle, Democrats on the House Intel Committee came together to call the memo release “a shameful effort to discredit these institutions, undermine the Special Counsel’s ongoing investigation, and undercut congressional probes.” They also said the refusal to release their own counter-memo was a “transparent effort to suppress the full truth,” and that the memo would “impugn and impair” the work of the DOJ and FBI, contrary to what Speaker Ryan said on Thursday.
Senate Intelligence Committee Vice Chairman Mark Warner (D-VA) came out against the validity of the memo, stating that he has “actually read the underlying documents on which the memo was based. They simply do not support its conclusions.”
House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) claimed that by authorizing the memo release, Trump “sent his friend Putin bouquet,” and engaged in a “desperate attempt to distract the American people from the truth about the Trump-Russia scandal.”
The FBI Agents Association came out hard against the memo, stating that “Special Agents have not, and will not, allow partisan politics to distract us from our solemn commitment to our mission.”
And former FBI Director James Comey—infamously fired last year by Trump, amid the Russia probe—questioned the need for the memo’s release: “That’s it?...For what?” he wrote, railing against the “dishonest and misleading memo.” He backed up his former agency, adding, “DOJ & FBI must keep doing their jobs.”