Morning Briefing: Trump Returns to Twitter, Lies; Plus Why Trey Gowdy Really Quit Congress
Did you guys know that Donald Trump didn’t tweet for an entire 24-period yesterday? It was his first day-long hiatus in 117 days. He’s back this morning, though, and while he’s not yet ranting, he is engaging in his run-of-the-mill lying:
Thank you for all of the nice compliments and reviews on the State of the Union speech. 45.6 million people watched, the highest number in history. @FoxNews beat every other Network, for the first time ever, with 11.7 million people tuning in. Delivered from the heart!— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) February 1, 2018
Ironically, it was Fox News that corrected him:
#SOTU TV Viewers:— Fox News Research (@FoxNewsResearch) February 1, 2018
1993: 66.9M* (largest TV audience)
*Not an official SOTU pic.twitter.com/OZlUHmGQp4
Note that Obama’s first two addresses in front of Congress both scored bigger ratings than Trump’s first two. Not that anyone is counting. Except Trump.
— Back to things that actually matter. The President may release the “memo” today, but he may not. As we noted last night, Adam Schiff asserted the memo that the President is reviewing has been altered from the memo that was voted on by the House Intelligence Committee, and Schiff says that it has been altered in material ways to water down some of the assertions. Those changes may result in a delay to the release of the memo.
— Again, we know the contours of what the memo will say, and I don’t think we need to rehash them. The gist: It will say that Rod Rosenstein approved the renewal of a FISA warrant to surveil Carter Page, a FISA warrant the Republicans argue was originally based on the Steele Dossier, a document — Republicans argue — that was paid for by Democrats.
The reality? The FBI had more than just the Steele Dossier to rely on (and the firm Christopher Steele worked for was originally hired by Republicans, by the way). There was at least one other memo; there was information the FBI received from Australia (via George Papadopoulos) and, oh yeah: As the Wall Street Journal reminds us today, the FBI had been watching Carter Page since 2013, even before he was part of the Trump campaign.
None of that, or any of the other sources the FBI used, is expected to be included in the memo, in part because the FBI doesn’t want to compromise sources. Republicans on the House Intelligence Committee know that the FBI can’t fully rebut the memo without compromising sources and methods, which is exactly why they’re releasing it. It’s a hack political move and hopefully enough people will see through that. I also desperately hope that Devin Nunes ends up in prison over this.
I mean, at this point, you’ve got the FBI — which typically sits back and lets Republicans run roughshod over their reputation — actually pushing back publicly for the first time. Here’s FBI Director Christopher Wray’s statement, yesterday: “The F.B.I. was provided a limited opportunity to review this memo the day before the committee voted to release it. As expressed during our initial review, we have grave concerns about material omissions of fact that fundamentally impact the memo’s accuracy.”
Honestly, and we have been saying this since Trump was elected: Trump and the GOP are messing with the wrong goddamn people. Don’t pick fights with the FBI.
— Trey Gowdy, a Republican out of South Carolina, announced that he would not run for re-election this year. That brings to 37 the total number of Republicans who have announced that they will not run again in 2018.
It’s particularly interesting in this case. Gowdy was in a safe district. I highly doubt that he would have faced a tough race. That’s not the issue. Gowdy is a committee chair, and if the Republicans lose the house, those Republicans lose their seats as heads of committees, which is effectively a demotion. Gowdy is the 9th committee head to announce that he will not be seeking reelection this year. Gowdy knows what is coming. His retirement is not about losing his job, it’s about losing his committee chair.
If I’m a Republican, I wouldn’t want to be in the minority, either. Not with Trump in the White House. If the Dems take back the House, they’re gonna open up a mess load of investigations — into Russia, into Emoluments, into Kushner, into Nunes, into whether Trump used campaign money to pay Stormy Daniels off, etc. etc., etc. — and the Republicans will have no way of stopping those investigations, just as the Democrats currently have no way of preventing Republicans from releasing this memo. In fact, if Dems take back the House, Nunes best watch his ass, because in the minority, the only power he’ll effectively have is the ability to write an op-ed, as Schiff did last night in the Washington Post. In fact, I hope that Nunes stays on. I hope he wins his seat again. Unless Trump plucks him from Congress and installs him in a position in the White House, he’s going to fry in the minority.
My prediction: When Dem memo gets released or reporters get the truth, the public will know Devin Nunes & the White House misled the American people. Just like the stunt Nunes pulled last year. Nunes will then have to recuse himself from his current recusal. Like recusal squared. https://t.co/LHVWYdhx2W— Ted Lieu (@tedlieu) February 1, 2018
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