the Nunes memo and the FBI's reputation

| No Comments | No TrackBacks

Jon Chait writes about the Nunes memo and the GOP plot to undermine neutral authority, noting that "Once again, as the facts have emerged in full, the underlying conclusions hyped by conservatives have melted away:"

The memo does not discredit the Russia investigation. It charges that one of the figures in the investigation, Carter Page, had been surveilled in part on the basis of a dossier that had been funded by Democrats, and that the FBI had not adequately disclosed this to the judges who approved the surveillance. If true, the accusation would be legally unimportant (courts frequently approve surveillance on the basis of biased sources), and in any case, the FBI had been investigating Page for years before. The miniscule claim turns out not to be correct anyway -- as the Washington Post reports, the court that approved the surveillance of Page "was aware that some of the information underpinning the warrant request was paid for by a political entity."

But, also like in Climategate, the collapse of the factual underpinnings beneath the conservatives' claims left no impression on them whatsoever. There is no sense of chastening or remorse on the right. To the contrary, Republicans retain all of their initial fervor to use the memo to prosecute their targets in the deep state.

"It might seem perverse," Chait continues, "that Republicans would respond this way in the wake of a high-profile humiliation:"

Yet, from their perspective, it is not a humiliation at all. Republican voters have absorbed the intended message. The rank and file, which once considered support for law enforcement a definitional trait, has quickly turned against the FBI:


"Cultivating distrust in institutions that are designed to play a neutral, mediating role," he reminds us, "is one of the central functions of conservative politics:"

It is a game that conservatives know how to win, because they are waging asymmetric warfare. There is no good way for an institution to withstand partisan attack when its existence relies upon maintaining some distance from partisanship. [...]

Indeed, the FBI finds itself in its current straits in part because it's already attempted to placate conservative distrust. In 2016, the bureau broke its policy and publicized its investigation of Hillary Clinton because the leadership feared the withering attacks they would face from the congressional GOP after a presumed Clinton victory. (They had no such fear of Democrats, which is why they kept their investigation of Trump's connections with Russia secret before the election.) Trump even used the FBI's demonstrated unfairness toward Clinton as a pretext to fire its director last year.

At best, the Republican attacks will clear the way for Donald Trump to close down the Mueller probe or turn federal law enforcement into a weapon of partisan control. At worst, they will supply his followers (including a critical mass of congressional Republicans) with a rationale for ignoring any incriminating conclusions the investigation yields.

No TrackBacks

TrackBack URL:

Leave a comment

About this Entry

This page contains a single entry by cognitivedissident published on February 5, 2018 1:20 PM.

the GOP's budget was the previous entry in this blog.

redrawing PA's electoral map is the next entry in this blog.

Find recent content on the main index or look in the archives to find all content.

Monthly Archives


  • About
  • Contact
OpenID accepted here Learn more about OpenID
Powered by Movable Type 5.031