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Ed Rogers: How GOP memo relates to Mueller's investigation

| Tuesday, Feb. 13, 2018, 9:00 p.m.
Special Counsel Robert Mueller departs after a closed-door meeting in June about Russian meddling in the 2016 election with members of the Senate Judiciary Committee at the Capitol in Washington, D.C. (AP Photo | J. Scott Applewhite, File)
Special Counsel Robert Mueller departs after a closed-door meeting in June about Russian meddling in the 2016 election with members of the Senate Judiciary Committee at the Capitol in Washington, D.C. (AP Photo | J. Scott Applewhite, File)

As interesting as the “Nunes memo” is, everything it reveals occurred before Robert Mueller was appointed as special counsel. How does anything in the memo impact the validity of Mueller's investigation? Well, it matters that the pre-Mueller Justice Department investigation was prompted by anti-Trump, pro-Hillary partisans who used U.S. law enforcement in an effort to derail the Trump campaign. So, determining what Mueller knew and when he knew it is essential and relevant. When did Mueller realize he was at the helm of an investigation tainted by illegitimate roots? If he doesn't think it matters, he needs to explain why.

Part of what makes the memo from House Intelligence Committee Chairman Devin Nunes, R-Calif., significant is that it confirms the presence of an anti-Trump, pro-Clinton cell operating at the highest ranks of the FBI. The partisan cabal included Obama-era Attorney General Lorretta Lynch, the FBI's Andrew McCabe and Peter Strzok, and perhaps others. Democrats and their allies in the media won't admit it, but the memo reveals that the U.S. presidential election appears to have almost been hijacked — not by the Russians or the Trump campaign colluding with the Russians, but by Clinton campaign agents colluding with anti-Trump allies within the FBI. Their efforts were partially fueled by Clinton-campaign opposition research. They used lies and distortions in an attempt to pursue the Trump campaign.

That said, it is worth remembering that the Democrats' dossier wasn't determinative in launching the entire Russia probe. But the revelation of its use does expose anti-Trump individuals in the FBI and confirm their anti-Trump biases. They took a phony document and used it to advance their own political objectives. It is fair to ask: What else did they do?

I always thought it was kind of weird to begin with that then-FBI Director James Comey briefed President-elect Donald Trump about the dossier. And now, I wonder whether Comey might have done that as part of an effort to cover the anti-Trump faction's tracks or to at least gently reveal that the dossier was being used by the government. I guess no one told Trump the dossier had already been used against his interests in an official government proceeding.

Anyway, it is going to take some time to process the impact of the Nunes memo. But it can't just be dismissed with a shrug. Was Mueller ever going to report that the FBI colluded with anti-Trump forces to undermine the Trump campaign by relying on information supplied via anti-Trump foreign nationals paid by the Clinton campaign? The Nunes memo challenges the entire premise of the special counsel's investigation — especially if there is now a serious inquiry about whether the president obstructed justice of an investigation inappropriately initiated in the first place.

The bottom line is that this memo further confirms that somebody colluded with the Russians, somebody withheld material information from government officials and somebody even used laundered money to pay for campaign dirt that was partially supplied by Russian agents.

That somebody wasn't the Trump campaign. That should matter a great deal to Mueller. So where does this investigation go from here?

Ed Rogers is a political consultant and a veteran of the Ronald Reagan and George H.W. Bush White Houses and several national campaigns.

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