Panelist: Mueller interview could be 'troublesome' for Trump

Republican strategist Kristen Soltis Anderson told Jake Tapper that given President Trump's tendency to exaggerate, it might be complicated for him to sit down face to face with Robert Mueller.

Posted: Feb 8, 2018 3:55 PM
Updated: Feb 8, 2018 3:55 PM

Rep. Devin Nunes launched a partisan bomb, one that is distracting the oversight panel he heads from pressing business.

The committee's actual mission is critical at a time when we need more, and not less, attention on strategic national security risks.

We're all trying to read the tea leaves, with the GOP memo out and the Democratic counter memo sitting at the White House (and Trump administration officials hedging on whether and when they may approve its release). But we may be losing the forest through the trees.

The memos have become the big story in Washington, one that has obscured the fact that Nunes, chairman of the House Intelligence Committee (HPSCI), has wasted an extraordinary amount of time, attention and resources on alleged abuses by the FBI -- instead of doing his job.

That isn't to downplay the importance of getting the Democrats' memo out -- the misinformation spread by the Nunes memo needs a response. But both of these memos are tactical diversions from the actual work that Chairman Nunes should be doing with his committee members.

Nunes perhaps purposefully moved his committee in the exact wrong direction with the release of the infamous memo about Christopher Steele's dossier.

With every second that HPSCI spends on the memos, it is just a fact that they're spending less time on key national security work, the committee's actual mission.

It's worth noting that Nunes and his colleagues made a decision about the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) when they voted to reauthorize the controversial Section 702 less than a month ago. During the heated debates about section 702, Nunes could easily have raised broader questions or concerns about abuses to the FISA process in a more appropriate context.

With all of the same information before them, the committee reviewed legislation, they voted and it passed. The House rejected an amendment from civil libertarians to limit the ability of the government to use information collected on US citizens. The committee, controlled by Republicans, made a decision to leave the program alone, no matter how much Nunes and his memo make of the allegations of purported FISA abuses revealed this week.

Last March, the HPSCI announced an investigation into Russian election interference, ties between Trump campaign associates and Russia, and other related issues. This was -- and remains -- no small task. Witness interviews, document reviews and hearings take a lot of time to do, and even more time to do well.

Based on the gravity of the issues at hand -- the security of our democracy -- it should undoubtedly be a priority focus for HPSCI and especially for the chairman. Nunes had to recuse himself from this investigation after his unmasking charade, but the rest of the committee's time would be well spent trying to salvage a credible investigation, particularly as we are nine months away from the 2018 midterms.

Hard-working committee members may have hit pause on the investigation to mitigate the impact of the Nunes memo, but Russia's Vladimir Putin hasn't skipped a beat. CIA Director Pompeo told the BBC last week that "there had been no significant diminishing of Russian attempts at subversion in Europe and the U.S."

The Russian threat is metastasizing while Congress, the administration and the public dissect a 3.5-page document and speculate about the Democrats' response to it. Meanwhile, this past weekend, reports surfaced underscoring the expanding Russian digital campaign.

Following their unprecedented amplifying of the #releasethememo hashtag, Russia pushed new hashtags stoking "deep state" conspiracy theories.

The bottom line is that an official from Homeland Security says that Russia potentially tried to penetrate, hack or monitor election systems in 21 states during the 2016 election. The US intelligence community has cited ongoing Russian information warfare, and campaign officials have pled guilty to lying about contacts with Russians who considered campaign officials ripe targets. Russia has no reason not to repeat this performance, which means the HPSCI has every reason to double down on their investigation, not get distracted from it.

The HPSCI has no reason to continue wasting its time, because the committee members can rest assured that there are other mechanisms in place to make sure that any FISA abuses -- as alleged in the Nunes memo -- are investigated. The Department of Justice has an inspector general whose job it is to prevent any abuse of power or corruption.

The current IG is no partisan stooge. In 2015, Michael Horowitz clashed with the FBI over sharing documents over his ability to gain access to FBI documents, including wiretaps, in timely fashion so that he could conduct investigations. Right now, any concerns about the role of Steele and others in the FISA authorization to watch Carter Page should remain on his desk.

There's already more than enough on the HPSCI members' desks. The committee's work on cybersecurity is not just limited to Russia.

As President Trump's recent National Security Strategy pointed out, "Malicious state and non-state actors use cyberattacks for extortion, information warfare, disinformation, and more." North Korea, China, and hackers all around the world seek access to our most private information and the HPSCI's focus on working with the intelligence community on defensive and offensive cyber operations couldn't be any more timely.

It's time for the HPSCI to get back to work.

Indiana Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Cases: 613228

Reported Deaths: 9728
CountyCasesDeaths
Marion846851338
Lake45676687
Allen32980552
Hamilton29649315
St. Joseph27531382
Elkhart24478345
Vanderburgh19610250
Tippecanoe18108141
Johnson15191295
Porter14944169
Hendricks14485250
Madison11044222
Clark10811144
Vigo10795181
Monroe9458113
Delaware9170134
LaPorte9145164
Howard8292144
Kosciusko810183
Warrick680299
Hancock6782104
Bartholomew6640100
Floyd6507110
Wayne6177162
Grant6027116
Dubois558680
Boone556468
Morgan548695
Henry511464
Marshall506984
Cass486964
Dearborn486545
Noble475659
Jackson427747
Shelby420781
Lawrence393780
Clinton375044
Gibson374459
Harrison353045
DeKalb349864
Montgomery347654
Knox336239
Miami324544
Steuben315046
Whitley311126
Wabash305851
Adams302836
Ripley300546
Putnam298950
Huntington294860
Jasper291734
White275143
Daviess271774
Jefferson266238
Decatur249583
Fayette248648
Greene242262
Posey241028
Wells236951
LaGrange230062
Scott226839
Clay224332
Randolph215248
Jennings200636
Sullivan193533
Spencer193022
Washington188023
Fountain184927
Starke176444
Jay168623
Owen167637
Fulton164830
Orange160935
Carroll159715
Rush156318
Perry155929
Vermillion149734
Franklin149333
Tipton133133
Parke13088
Pike118526
Blackford111822
Pulaski97837
Newton92021
Brown88335
Benton87110
Crawford8099
Martin74913
Warren6857
Switzerland6695
Union6297
Ohio4977
Unassigned0376

Ohio Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Cases: 868656

Reported Deaths: 10768
CountyCasesDeaths
Franklin102154707
Cuyahoga865201153
Hamilton64744448
Montgomery43516419
Summit35250762
Lucas31663631
Butler31268232
Stark26096443
Warren19830142
Lorain19296229
Mahoning17471339
Lake16250154
Clermont16128112
Delaware1453680
Licking13326137
Fairfield1294981
Trumbull12920317
Greene12174141
Medina11732168
Clark11058265
Wood10457158
Allen9988127
Portage9454111
Miami924473
Richland9236118
Marion7486113
Tuscarawas7440183
Columbiana7409124
Pickaway732150
Wayne7111172
Muskingum710342
Erie6221130
Ross5558100
Hancock555292
Scioto542764
Geauga515955
Darke473492
Lawrence460658
Union456928
Ashtabula456473
Sandusky439562
Mercer435089
Seneca433866
Huron432841
Auglaize424164
Shelby422522
Jefferson422469
Belmont421145
Washington394240
Athens38389
Putnam378075
Madison358129
Knox356122
Ashland349038
Fulton340443
Defiance334486
Crawford325774
Preble322737
Brown315821
Logan312132
Ottawa296543
Clinton291543
Williams280367
Highland279018
Jackson265845
Guernsey257126
Champaign253428
Fayette239530
Morrow23464
Perry233718
Holmes226774
Henry221953
Hardin215533
Coshocton206922
Van Wert203445
Gallia199826
Wyandot196751
Pike178017
Adams177715
Hocking173224
Carroll157616
Paulding145321
Noble121040
Meigs109724
Monroe102232
Harrison89921
Morgan83931
Vinton71314
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