The Other Memo

Monday, February 5, 2018Screen Shot 2018-02-05 at 8.40.59 AM

Good Monday morning, 
Here are some of the stories making news in Washington and politics today:
  • After the release of the House Intelligence Committee memo alleging abuses at the F.B.I.Democrats pressed for the release of their own classified rebuttal, with a vote expected on Monday on whether to make it public.

  • President Trump said the release of the House Intelligence Committee memo totally vindicates him in the special counsel’s investigation. But Democrats and members of the intelligence community had different interpretations.

  • As Mr. Trump hammers away at the Justice Department’s credibility, one voice has been notably absent in the department’s defense: Jeff Sessions.

  • The payday lending industry has gone from villain to victor on Mr. Trump’s watch, the result of a lobbying campaign that has culminated in a far friendlier approach by the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau.
  • Federal investigators say they have found huge gaps in the regulation of assisted living facilities, a shortfall that they say has potentially jeopardized the care of hundreds of thousands of people served by the booming industry.
  • Thousands of ISIS fighters have escaped the American-led military campaignin eastern Syria, threatening to tarnish American declarations that the militant group has been largely defeated.
  • After years of treaties aimed at reducing nuclear arsenals, the Pentagon envisions putting the weapons back in play to counter a push by Russia to modernize its forces. This arms race is less about numbers and more about tactics and technologies meant to outwit and outmaneuver the other side.
— The First Draft Team
News Analysis

How Trump’s Allies Fanned an Ember of Controversy Into Flames of Outrage

Outside a meeting room used by the House Intelligence Committee on Friday.

Outside a meeting room used by the House Intelligence Committee on Friday. Eric Thayer for The New York Times

The release of the memo mattered less than #releasethememo.
After weeks of buildup, the three-and-a-half-page document about alleged F.B.I. abuses during the 2016 presidential campaign made public on Friday was broadly greeted with criticism, including by some Republicans. They said it cherry-picked information, made false assertions and was overly focused on an obscure, low-level Trump campaign adviser, Carter Page.
It didn’t live up to the hype.
But the campaign, captured in the hashtag #releasethememo, which was trending on Twitter for days, may have a far more significant impact than the memo’s contents. It was a choreographed effort by House Republicans and top White House officials to push a highly contentious theme — that the F.B.I. and the Justice Department abused their powers to spy on the Trump campaign and relied on dodgy information from a former British spy paid by Democratic operatives.
What began as an ember more than two weeks ago was fanned into a blaze by conservative media titans, presidential tweets and Republican lawmakers urging people to use social media to pressure Congress to make the memo’s contents public.
Steve Santarsiero, center, during a State Senate campaign event in Newtown, Pa., in January.

Long Dominant in Statehouses, Republicans Brace for Energized Democrats


Republicans have dominated state governments for almost a decade, but Democrats are exploiting President Trump’s unpopularity in an effort to make inroads in 2018.

Jon Huntsman Sr. with his wife, Karen, in 2004 at the dedication of the Huntsman Cancer Institute in Salt Lake City.

Jon Huntsman Sr., Billionaire Businessman and Philanthropist, Dies at 80


Mr. Huntsman was an industrialist who made a fortune, gave millions to cancer research and left a legacy of public service.

Students working last month on a home at Metro Community College in Omaha.

Trump’s Vision for Vocational Education Gets a Tepid Reception


Advocates for career and technical education took issue with the president’s characterization of a sector of higher education that has expanded beyond laborers.

Reporters last year outside the London offices of Orbis Business Intelligence, founded in part by the former British intelligence agent Christopher Steele.

Kashyap Patel, Main Author of Secret Memo, Is No Stranger to Quarrels


Mr. Patel, a staff member on the House Intelligence Committee, was once berated by a judge for being a “bureaucrat” who “causes trouble.”

An Exxon refinery in Baytown, Tex. The company reassured shareholders that it would “continue to play a critical role in meeting the world’s energy demand.”

Exxon Studies Climate Policies and Sees ‘Little Risk’ to Bottom Line


The oil giant issued a climate report, demanded by shareholders, examining the threats to its business of a move away from fossil fuels.

K. T. McFarland, President Trump’s former deputy national security adviser, in July during a Senate confirmation hearing.

K. T. McFarland Withdraws Her Nomination to Be Ambassador to Singapore


Ms. McFarland’s nomination had become embroiled in the controversy over the Trump campaign’s contacts with Russian officials.

Janet L. Yellen will join the Brookings Institution on Monday after leaving her term as chairwoman of the Federal Reserve.

Yellen, Departing Fed, Will Join Brookings


Janet L. Yellen will join a number of other former Fed officials as a fellow in economic studies at the Washington think tank.

Carter Page, who was an adviser to President Trump’s campaign, testified to the House Intelligence Committee in November.

Carter Page, Ex-Trump Aide Once Shunned by Right, Is Back at the Center of the Russia Case


The former campaign adviser was once dismissed by a White House that is now using him to discredit the F.B.I.

Main Street in Downtown Visalia, Calif. Representative Devin Nunes’s home district is a conservative farming region in California’s Central Valley.

Washington Is Abuzz Over the Nunes Memo. His California District, Not So Much.


Constituents of Devin Nunes, the congressman at the center of the release of the classified memo, greeted the political firestorm with a collective shrug.

Kathleen Hartnett White at Trump Tower in Manhattan in 2016.

Trump to Withdraw Nomination of Climate Skeptic as Top Environmental Adviser


The White House is dropping Kathleen Hartnett White from consideration to lead the Council on Environmental Quality.

Speaker Paul Ryan of Wisconsin at the Capitol last month. Mr. Ryan deleted a Twitter post after lawmakers and social media users criticized him for appearing out of touch.

Paul Ryan Deletes Tweet Lauding a $1.50 Benefit From the New Tax Law


Democrats said the speaker’s Twitter post showed that he was out of touch.

The Justice Department announced last week that it would not retry Senator Robert Menendez of New Jersey, eliminating for Democrats the embarrassing prospect of having a sitting senator running for re-election while on trial for corruption.

After Years of Investigation, a Sudden Folding of the Case Against Menendez


The long arc of the corruption investigation into Senator Robert Menendez, which began more than five years ago with salacious rumors, collapsed over two weeks in January.

Right and Left: Partisan Writing You Shouldn’t Miss
Read about how the other side thinks. We have collected political writing from around the web and across ideologies about the release of the Nunes memo. 
From the Right
Mary Katharine Ham in The Federalist:
“We’ve been trying for a year to separate correct from wrong and responsible from irresponsible, and there has been plenty of wrong and irresponsible reporting. This memo offers additional context, even if it’s as selective, incomplete, and politically motivated as its harshest critics suggest.”
Ms. Ham draws parallels between the Nunes memo and much of the reporting around potential collusion between Russia and the Trump campaign team. Both, she writes, rely on selectively released information with partisan or biased sources at their origin. She advises readers of both the memo and the news media accounts to take these caveats into consideration before drawing conclusions from either. Read more »
From the Left
Eric Levitz in New York magazine:
“Even if we stipulate that all of the memo’s factual assertions are true, the document does nothing to discredit the validity of the Mueller investigation — but does quite a bit to discredit the GOP’s own attacks on that probe.”
It’s possible, Mr. Levitz concedes, that Mr. Page was improperly surveilled by the government. However, in his estimation, the memo doesn’t do many of the things Trump allies may have been hoping for and speculating about. Notably, it does not prove the Steele dossier was the basis for the investigation into collusion between Russia and the Trump campaign. Moreover the memo does little to impugn the behavior of current F.B.I. and Justice Department leadership, like Rod Rosenstein, the deputy attorney general, who some believe is in the president’s cross hairs. Read more »
More selections »