The infamous Devin Nunes memo about the Trump-Russia investigation has finally been released, and it’s even more of an embarrassing punchline than we were expecting. This memo doesn’t merely fail to help Donald Trump’s case, it significantly harms his case. It was a fitting sign when the House GOP posted the memo, didn’t make arrangements for the necessary bandwidth, and instantly crashed its own website. But now the GOP is surely wishing its site had remained crashed, because of one stunning admission in the memo that completely undermines Trump.
The Nunes memo contains no explosive accusations against the FBI or the Department of Justice. There’s basically nothing here. The text is even framed into the middle of the page, seemingly in order to make it appear longer than it is, like someone would do if they were half heartedly writing a term paper and trying to cover for the fact that they had nothing to say. That is, of course, until we get nearly to the end. Nunes flat out admits that the FBI began its Russia investigation based on the drunken George Papadopoulos confession, and not the Trump-Russia dossier. Wait, what?
We already knew this, of course. The media reported it months ago. The only people still pretending otherwise are Trump and his Republican allies; they’re still pretending it was based on the dossier. Yet, in a stunning display of strategic incompetence, Nunes has blown up that entire talking point. How bad is this? My first response was simply “LOL.” Then I saw that Rachel Maddow had also tweeted “LOL” in response to the memo. It’s that much of a joke. So what now?
Donald Trump was hoping that this memo would convince the average American that Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein is a civil rights abusing monster who needs to be fired for the common good. The memo will do no such thing. Even if the Fox News crowd laps it up, that doesn’t matter. Trump would have needed mainstream consensus here, and he didn’t get it. He swung, missed, fell down, and hit his head – and he’s running out of strikes.
Bill Palmer is the publisher of the political news outlet Palmer Report