WSJ Columnist Explains Why This FISA Memo Tantrum By Democrats Doesn't Matter

Posted: Feb 01, 2018 2:10 PM

Well, this is the Battle of the Bulge for the FBI, Department of Justice, and congressional Democrats over the memo war. This is the last gamble—and it’ll fail. For starters, President Trump said the FISA memo, which alleges abuses akin to that of the KGB regarding government surveillance, is going to be released. FBI Director Christopher Ray and Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein made a last ditch effort on Monday, meeting with White House Chief of Staff John Kelly to plead their case. It failed. Wray even read the memo last Sunday, with two senior FBI officials saying it contained no factual inaccuracies. Now, Reps. Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) and Adam Schiff (D-CA) are going haywire over what they describe as last-minute alterations to the memo. Pelosi has demanded Nunes be stripped of his House Intelligence Committee chairmanship.

There’s just one problem: They requested it, so did the FBI. They were grammatical changes—nothing more. For Democrats, it amounted to a two-word change. This isn’t document shredding in the back offices at midnight. This isn’t some surreptitious plot. 

The Wall Street Journal’s Kimberley Strassel touched upon the fact that this memo meltdown by the Left is irrelevant since the president has already decided to declassify the memo and can release as much or as little as he sees fit. House Republicans on the committee could have re-written the whole memo and it still wouldn't have mattered.

“This is no longer a House project, Schiff knows this,” Strassel tweeted. “They [FBI, DOJ] are now campaigning against WH in the media and with statements is pretty outrageous,” she added. Circling back to her op-ed: Operation Sabotage The Memo. The Boyd letter refers to the one Assistant Attorney General Stephen Boyd sent to Rep. Nunes (R-CA), warning him releasing this memo would be reckless and possible harm national security:

The bigger, swampier game here is to rally media pressure, and to mau-mau Mr. Nunes into giving the department a veto over the memo’s release. Ask Sen. Chuck Grassley how that goes. Mr. Grassley, chairman of the Judiciary Committee, recently sent a referral to the department for a criminal probe into dossier author Christopher Steele. He then in good faith asked the department its views on an unclassified portion of that referral that he wants to make public. The department invented a classified reason to block public release, and has refused to budge for weeks.

The Boyd letter is also a first step toward a bigger prize: President Trump. Under House rules, a majority of the Intelligence Committee can vote to declassify the memo. Mr. Trump then has up to five days to object to its release. If he doesn’t object, the memo goes public. If he does, a majority of the House would have to vote to override him.

The shrieks of reckless harm and national security are designed to pressure Mr. Trump to object. And wait for it: In coming days the Justice Department’s protectors will gin up a separate, desperate claim that Mr. Trump will somehow be “interfering” in special counsel Robert Mueller’s probe unless he objects to the release.

Oh, and you know what else is odd. The FBI statement yesterday condemning the release of the memo omitted the national security dangers. 

Even some anti-Trump writers weighed in, noting that whatever the reason--it's not "tenable" to keep the position that this information should remain hidden from the public:

Be sure to read Guy’s analysis as well.