100%: Why Trump Wins By Not Releasing the Memo

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Are you curious about the contents of the Nunes Memo? Think it details an FBI conspiracy? Or a gross abuse of power? Well, there’s good news for you. President Trump says he’s “100%” going to release the memo. Ironically, I think President Trump’s best political move would be to not release the memo. Right now, he enjoys the benefit of what the memo is presumed to show—at least by the conservative media—without the liability that would come with its release when its flaws can be examined. Think about it. His base and his media enablers have created a narrative that the contents of this memo undermine not only the Russia probe, but also potentially the Mueller investigation writ large. They argue that if Carter Page should never have been under surveillance, everything else is the fruit of a poisonous tree.

And right now, while Democrats claim that the memo should not be released, once it is, they’d have a chance to cross-examine its contents. They could point out all of its flaws; they could demand the underlying intelligence be made public; they could more easily gripe about the fact that the Democrats’ response wasn’t released. All of a sudden, Democrats could control the conversation by talking about Republicans’ disrespect for law enforcement and unwillingness to work together in any way. With so many House Republicans already announcing their retirement, Democrats would have another easy attack ad to run in the suburban areas they did so well in during the Virginia state elections. As Jennifer Rubin from The Washington Post tweeted today: “In short, Democrats can argue that if you vote for anyone with an “R” after his or her name, you are voting to hobble the FBI, expose our secrets to our enemies and help Trump escape the consequences of possible wrongdoing. Talk about a winning message.”

The President can still control this narrative. Imagine if he stands up at a podium today and says, “I’ve examined the memo, and while I think it makes some important observations, I’m going to yield to the advice of FBI Director Christopher Wray.” He would not lose his base who already think they know what the memo says. And he might score points with others who would have to recognize such a decision as an exhibition of leadership.

The Nunes memo has already served its Republican purpose. It can only be downhill from here.