It is our sad duty to report that Rep. Devin Nunes (R-CA) is at it again.
The chairman of the House Intelligence Committee has had a busy year running interference for Donald Trump by misdirecting and sabotaging his own committee's investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 election.
And after tying himself to the Trump wagon, he's not about to let a minor issue such as every allegation he has raised against the Obama administration and the so-called “Deep State” turning out to be as vaporous and insubstantial as jet contrails stop him from continuing to try.
His latest effort is a memo he wrote allegedly showing that the Obama administration surveilled Trump and members of his team during the transition. On Thursday the Intelligence Committee voted along party lines to share it with other members of Congress but not the public.
But by that night, some of those members were publicly claiming the memo's contents proved the Obama administration engaged in the worst scandal since Watergate. They began calling for the memo to be released to the public, in part by getting the hashtag #ReleaseTheMemo trending on Twitter.
And happy to assist disseminating the hashtag as far and wide as possible? Russia-linked Twitter bots, which are automated accounts designed to rapidly push out pro-Russia themes.
Business Insider reports:
The frequency with which the accounts have been promoting the hashtag has spiked by 233,000% over the past 48 hours, according to the site. The accounts' references to the “memo,” meanwhile, have increased by 68,000%.
A large number of those bots are also pushing links to WikiLeaks, which offered a reward for anyone who sent it a copy of what it termed the “FISA abuse memo.”
All this help from Russia-linked bots is not going to help Trump's case that accusations of Russian interference with internal American politics are a total hoax and a witch hunt. If anything, it should make people wonder why Russia-controlled social media accounts are so willing to help spread pro-Trump propaganda.
Democrats, led by the Intelligence Committee's ranking minority member Rep. Adam Schiff (D-CA), contend the memo is a set of cherry-picked talking points that add up to a “profoundly misleading” picture:
“Rife with factual inaccuracies and referencing highly classified materials that most of Republican Intelligence Committee members were forced to acknowledge they had never read, this is meant only to give Republican House members a distorted view of the FBI," Schiff continued.
A source with knowledge of the memo told Business Insider that the memo is “a level of irresponsible stupidity that I cannot fathom. Purposefully misconstrues facts and leaves out important details.”
This should surprise absolutely no one.
Given Nunes's past efforts, which once led to his being publicly rebuked by his Intelligence Committee counterparts in the Senate, there is zero reason to give him the benefit of the doubt that somehow, this time, he has produced something of value to the Russia investigation.