The politics of the Russia investigation increasingly resemble a high-stakes game of capture the flag, with two sides frantically searching for the single item that will hand them victory. For Trump’s opponents, that’s the smoking gun that will prove all their suspicions about him are true. For Trump and his defenders, the quest is for the silver bullet that will offer him full vindication.
The latest fixation is the memo prepared by GOP Representative Devin Nunes and House Intelligence Committee staff, which reportedly alleges impropriety by the FBI and Justice Department in seeking a warrant to surveil former Trump campaign foreign-policy aide Carter Page. Thursday morning, CNN reported what has been apparent for days: Trump thinks the Nunes memo “could discredit the Russia investigation.” The report says:
In phone calls last night and over the past days, Trump has told friends he believes the memo would expose bias within the agency’s top ranks and make it easier for him to argue the Russia investigations are prejudiced against him, according to two sources.
The memo is still not public—it could be released as soon as Friday, with the White House close to approving the memo with some redactions—but it’s a good bet it won’t provide Trump the vindication he seeks. The reasons for that are both specific to the memo, but also endemic to his presidency, in which successive items have been presented as Trump’s great hope, only to dissolve upon the slightest scrutiny. There’s little doubt pro-Trump media will leap on the memo and argue it clears him, but that will do little to actually change the predicaments he faces. Then it will be on to the next future failed vindication.