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Nunes' partisan bomb obscures this deeper failure

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

Posted: Feb 9, 2018 5:30 AM
Updated: Feb 9, 2018 5:30 AM

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.

Minnesota Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Cases: 304023

Reported Deaths: 3580
CountyCasesDeaths
Hennepin641421113
Ramsey27059502
Anoka21526225
Dakota21268190
Washington13529113
Stearns13524108
St. Louis8433108
Scott820154
Wright746139
Olmsted653534
Sherburne570941
Clay483956
Carver455913
Blue Earth405214
Rice403136
Kandiyohi396821
Crow Wing353431
Nobles304929
Chisago304410
Otter Tail300522
Benton293348
Winona273730
Mower257423
Douglas250735
Polk248923
Morrison228029
Lyon213411
Beltrami211917
McLeod205011
Becker199815
Goodhue196728
Steele19137
Itasca185523
Isanti184917
Todd178413
Carlton177715
Nicollet158725
Freeborn15125
Mille Lacs149931
Le Sueur144911
Cass138610
Waseca137811
Brown136415
Pine13138
Meeker12398
Roseau11454
Hubbard111924
Martin111220
Wabasha10301
Redwood91619
Chippewa8527
Dodge8380
Cottonwood8333
Watonwan8334
Renville83124
Wadena7736
Sibley7724
Rock7569
Aitkin75529
Pipestone71018
Houston6854
Fillmore6770
Yellow Medicine63311
Pennington6277
Kanabec59613
Murray5783
Swift5758
Faribault5422
Pope5281
Stevens5063
Clearwater5058
Jackson4841
Marshall4758
Lake4066
Koochiching3855
Wilkin3715
Unassigned36759
Lac qui Parle3613
Lincoln3511
Norman3417
Big Stone3072
Mahnomen2904
Grant2726
Kittson2138
Red Lake2053
Traverse1461
Lake of the Woods951
Cook660

Iowa Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Cases: 225897

Reported Deaths: 2345
CountyCasesDeaths
Polk33451334
Linn14206164
Scott1116385
Black Hawk10849134
Woodbury10323124
Johnson948636
Dubuque918291
Story677621
Dallas633657
Pottawattamie624570
Sioux369125
Webster357833
Cerro Gordo351544
Marshall347846
Clinton327540
Buena Vista304114
Des Moines287920
Muscatine286468
Warren279611
Plymouth274242
Wapello255071
Jones229813
Jasper217443
Marion204320
Lee202217
Carroll197322
Bremer194212
Henry18227
Crawford174316
Benton169519
Tama153840
Jackson144313
Delaware143221
Washington140214
Dickinson138210
Boone136311
Mahaska126727
Wright12336
Clay11714
Buchanan116410
Hardin115010
Page11294
Clayton11105
Hamilton11059
Cedar107413
Harrison106729
Calhoun10617
Kossuth10566
Floyd104116
Mills10407
Fayette103310
Lyon10268
Butler10116
Poweshiek98913
Winneshiek96212
Iowa94612
Winnebago91723
Hancock8607
Louisa85816
Sac8578
Grundy85611
Chickasaw8494
Cherokee8374
Cass80823
Allamakee79911
Mitchell7884
Appanoose78710
Humboldt7695
Union7676
Shelby76211
Emmet76024
Guthrie75215
Franklin73521
Jefferson7112
Madison6804
Unassigned6620
Palo Alto6514
Keokuk5967
Pocahontas5574
Howard5529
Greene5220
Osceola5211
Ida48713
Clarke4824
Taylor4643
Montgomery46211
Davis4619
Monroe44312
Adair4408
Monona4332
Fremont3573
Van Buren3555
Worth3550
Lucas3236
Decatur3160
Wayne2987
Audubon2952
Ringgold2112
Adams1692
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