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The attorneys seeking to withdraw from their representation for ex-Trump campaign aide Rick Gates said that “that irreconcilable differences have developed with” Gates “which make our effective representation of the client impossible,” according to a court document that was filed last week, but only made public on Wednesday.

The three attorneys seeking to withdraw — Shanlon Wu, Walter Mack and Annemarie McAvoy — attended a hearing with Gates and prosecutors from Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s team. The hearing was under seal, meaning that neither the public nor the press could watch it.

After the hearing, U.S. District Court Judge Amy Berman Jackson ordered some, but not all, of the court documents the attorneys had filed in connection to their effort to withdraw be made public.

Gates is facing charges of money laundering, tax evasion and failure to disclose foreign lobbying as part of Mueller’s Russia probe. He has pleaded not guilty.

Former campaign chairman Paul Manafort, who joined Gates in the charges, also pleaded not guilty.

Last Thursday, Gates’ attorneys said in a filing that they were requesting to “withdraw as counsel of record in this case effective immediately,” but for reasons that the judge kept under seal.

A document indicating their reasons was what was unsealed Wednesday. However, another document that was filed under seal connected to the attorneys’ move to withdraw has not yet been released.

“Counsel is constrained by attorney-client privilege as to the specifics involved but understand that the Court may wish to inquire more specifically of counsel for the basis of this motion,” the filing said. “Counsel will make themselves available to the Court for such inquiry in whatever forum the Court deems appropriate.”

Prior to their move, CNN reported that Gates had quietly hired a new lawyer, Tom Green, a move the outlet took as a sign that Gates may be negotiating with Mueller’s team. Green was not present at Wednesday’s hearing. Coming out of the court room, Wu indicated that he was still under the gag order the judge put on the case and would not be able to answer reporters’ questions.

Read the recently unsealed filing below:

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For weeks, Missouri Gov. Eric Greitens (R) has been mired in a scandal stemming from an extramarital affair. And now Greitens is getting blamed for a shock Republican loss in a state legislative special election.

Democrat Mike Revis beat Republican David Linton by four points Tuesday in a state assembly district that has trended steadily rightward in recent years. Donald Trump won it by 28 points in 2016.

“The fact that that we lost that race is at the feet of the governor,” Scott Dieckhaus, the former executive director of the Missouri House Republican Campaign Committee, told TPM.

In mid-January, a local TV station published audio recorded in 2015 in which a woman with whom Greitens had an affair told her husband that Greitens took and threatened to release a nude photo of her if she went public about the affair. TPM has reported that the woman separately told her husband that Greitens slapped her after she told him she had slept with her husband.

Greitens has admitted to the affair but denied the photo blackmail attempt and alleged physical violence. But five GOP lawmakers have called for Greitens to step down, with some warning that the scandal could hurt the party.

Dieckhaus pointed to a series of polls of the district commissioned by state Republicans over the past two months as proof that it had. While Trump and the GOP’s net favorability both remained relatively strong and stable, Greitens’ plunged from plus 20 in late November to negative 13, with just 36 percent approving, the week after the scandal broke.

“The [Republican] candidate was poor, Democratic enthusiasm is obviously high, but those are still the types of things that we’ve been able to overcome for over a decade,” Dieckhaus continued, noting that the GOP has held the district since 2010. “So when you look at the polling the only thing that stands out is the scandal with the governor.”

A GOP strategist who requested anonymity to speak candidly said he too believes Greitens was among the factors dragging down the Republican candidate.

“Something was awry,” the strategist said. “My initial instinct is that it’s not President Trump. But something changed in the last few weeks.”

Revis, the Democratic candidate, didn’t make Greitens’ scandal a centerpiece of his campaign, instead focusing on issues like the governor’s support for Right-to-Work legislation, which is strongly opposed by labor unions. But at least one outside group backing Revis ran an online ad that opened with a series of headlines about the scandal, and about a separate pay-to-play allegation that has dogged the governor.

“Dieckhaus has it right,” Roy Temple, a leading Missouri Democratic operative, told TPM in an email. “Governor Greitens is an anchor around the neck of the Missouri GOP and there’s no reason to believe that’s likely to get better any time soon.”

The GOP strategist who requested anonymity told TPM he’d heard that state Democrats specifically made phone calls and did other outreach to female voters about the charges against Greitens.

A spokesperson for the Missouri Democratic Party did not immediately return TPM’s request for comment.

Other Republican operatives weren’t so sure that the governor had anything to do with the GOP loss—or that the result necessarily has implications for November. They noted that Republicans won the three other open statehouse seats on Tuesday, securing easy victories in two heavily red districts and a close win in the third.

“Special elections, especially really low turnout ones in statehouse districts, are not really indicative,” a different Missouri GOP strategist told TPM, predicting that Revis will lose his seat in November when more Republican voters turn out for the U.S. Senate and State Auditor’s race.

Whether Greitens does end up dragging down the state GOP in the fall will hinge largely on what happens in the interim—and especially on the results of an investigation into the allegations being conducted by St. Louis Circuit Attorney Kim Gardner.

According to a lawyer for the ex-husband of the woman with whom the governor had the affair, Gardner this week convened a grand jury—a sign that the probe into Greitens may only be escalating.

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A federal judge on Wednesday considered a request from Rick Gates’ attorneys to withdraw from representing him. The hearing was under seal — meaning neither the public nor the press could sit in on it — and afterward, Gates’ attorneys indicated that they were still under gag order, so they could not say what had happened.

The hearing, which lasted about an hour, came amid speculation that Gates is switching up his legal team, perhaps in effort to come to a deal with Special Counsel Robert Mueller.

Last month, CNN reported that Tom Green, of the Washington, D.C. firm Sidley Austin, had been quietly brought on and was seen at Mueller’s office multiple times. The CNN report suggested his addition to the team was a sign that Gates may be negotiating with Mueller.

Green was not spotted entering the hearing Wednesday. Rather, three attorneys seeking to quit Gates’ legal team attended, as well prosecutors on Mueller’s team and Gates himself.

Gates, a former Trump campaign aide, is facing charges of money laundering, tax evasion and failure to disclose foreign lobbying. Paul Manafort, a Gates business partner and Trump’s former champaign chair, was also charged in Mueller’s probe. Both have pleaded not guilty.

Last week, three attorneys that have been representing Gates filed a motion to withdraw from their representation of him. Their reasons were filed under seal because they involve “highly sensitive matters concerning the Defendant and public disclosure of the information would potentially be prejudicial to the Defendant,” according to their filing.

After Wednesday’s hearing, an entry was added to the case’s public docket that said that U.S. District Court Judge Amy Berman Jackson had heard the matter and that motion to withdraw was “taken under advisement.”

Update: This story has been updated to include a docket entry filed after the hearing.

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President Donald Trump has said he’s “looking forward” to the prospect of sitting down with Special Counsel Robert Mueller. But according to a New York Times report Monday, his private legal team is vehemently urging him to decline any invitation to talk to Mueller.

Negotiations are continuing. But constitutional law experts told TPM that if the White House does choose defiance and Mueller responds with a subpoena, it would likely set up a high-stakes legal showdown—one in which the special counsel might have the upper hand.

A decision by the White House to reject Mueller’s request for a voluntary interview would signal a clear shift in the Trump legal team’s game plan from cooperation to delay.

“If they’re sort of pushing Mueller into a corner where he has to file a subpoena and Trump refuses to comply with the subpoena, they’re switching tracks to a whole new strategy of delay,” said Jens Ohlin, an executive privilege expert at Cornell Law School. “They just want to prevent Mueller from completing his investigation. Which on the one hand is bad for Trump because it keeps the Russia investigation hanging over his head in perpetuity. But, on the other hand, it keeps Trump away from Mueller, and keeps him out of any kind of danger.”

The Times reported that the legal team is split. White House lawyer Ty Cobb is reportedly continuing to argue for full cooperation while Trump’s private attorneys, Jay Sekulow and John Dowd, who is leading discussions with Mueller’s office on the issue, are arguing against a sit-down interview. Trump frequently makes false statements, and Sekulow and Dowd are concerned that talking to Mueller could expose him to charges of lying to investigators, the Times reported.

Asked for comment, both sets of lawyers sent TPM the same statement: “The active discussion between the OSC and the president’s personal lawyers regarding how and under what terms information will be exchanged are understandably private.”

If Trump ultimately declines an interview with Mueller, things could escalate quickly, legal experts said.

Mueller’s team would likely issue a subpoena asking a court to compel the president to appear before the grand jury. Trump might then comply and take the stand, where he could take the politically risky step of pleading the Fifth or telling the jury he does not recall the answers to key questions. More likely, Trump’s legal team would move to quash the subpoena, arguing that a sitting president shouldn’t be required to take time and resources away from his official duties to be questioned in an ongoing criminal investigation, and that Mueller’s queries extend beyond his mandate to investigate Russian interference in the 2016 election.

After a round of litigation in district court, the matter would likely then go to the D.C. Court of Appeals and all the way up to the U.S. Supreme Court.

History offers some pointers on the legal question of whether the president can be forced to testify in civil or criminal litigation. But past commanders-in-chief have either left office before doing so, as Richard Nixon did in the midst of the Watergate scandal, or ultimately agreed to voluntary interviews, as Bill Clinton did with the Paula Jones sexual harassment case and George W. Bush did during the Valerie Plame affair.

Randall Samborn, a spokesman for Special Counsel Patrick Fitzgerald’s investigation into the Plame leak, said the closest precedent was the 1974 US v. Nixon Supreme Court ruling that forced the former president to comply with a special prosecutor’s subpoena to turn over his Oval Office tapes.

The Nixon ruling “makes it compelling for Mueller to obtain presidential testimony under the theory that nobody is above the law, which I think is pretty sound,” Samborn told TPM. “But I also think there continue to be arguments that can and will be made that [special counsel] questioning can’t be open-ended and has got to be narrowly tailored.”

“There has to be specific material in mind that’s unattainable in other ways,” Samborn added. “So I do see it as shifting the burden on Mueller to have to justify the necessity.”

Matters touching on obstruction of justice and Trump’s state of mind would qualify, legal experts told TPM. Those topics are critical to Mueller’s investigation and can only be answered by the president himself, superseding any claims of executive privilege.

“I’m not sure how he could invoke a privilege that would categorically shield him from at least entertaining some questions,” Steve Vladeck, a constitutional law expert at the University of Texas School of Law, told TPM.

Past presidents have argued that there’s a legitimate need to maintain the confidentiality of their executive duties. But those arguments may not be in play here, Vladeck noted. The Times reported that Trump’s attorneys are instead concerned that this particular president will lie or contradict himself under oath, as he so often does in public.

“It’s like self-protection as opposed to institutional preservation,” Vladeck said. “That’s why I think if or when this gets into court the odds are still on Mueller’s side.”

But even if refusing to testify might not be a winning legal strategy, it could make sense politically for Trump. The president’s allies can continue to argue that Mueller is luring him into a perjury trap, knowing that he has a penchant for misstatements and outright falsehoods.

“It’s a way of explaining away why he’s not going to be transparent,” Ohlin said.

And by attacking the credibility of the FBI, DOJ, and Mueller investigation, Trump’s defenders can make the case that there is no reason for him to cooperate with what they argue is a fundamentally compromised probe.

“They’re creating a second pathway by saying, ‘We thought it would be over but it’s not, so clearly it’s an investigation run amok,’” Samborn said. “‘We have no choice but to litigate whether this is even necessary.’”

“It’s like rolling the dice,” Samborn added. “What do they have to lose?”

Read the latest editor’s brief (Prime access) on the Russia probe »


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A Russian pro-gun group with ties to the National Rifle Association boasted an “honorary members” list that’s a who’s-who of far-right and nationalist Russian political figures.

The group, The Right To Bear Arms, is run by Alexander Torshin, the Russian central bank official and Putin ally at the center of an FBI investigation into whether the NRA received illegal Russian money to boost Donald Trump in 2016.

The NRA has denied being contacted by the FBI about anything related to Russia, but has said almost nothing about the reported probe. The NRA spent more dark money in the 2016 election than any other political organization.

The honorary members list offers additional evidence that the Right To Bear Arms enjoys support from powerful far-right figures in Putin’s Russia. And it raises questions about the NRA’s relationship with the group: The Right To Bear Arms hosted top NRA officials for a 2015 meeting in Moscow and has forged other close contacts with the NRA. One person on the honorary members list told TPM he received his membership at a 2015 NRA meeting.

As recently as 2016, Right to Bear Arms listed 22 “honorary members” on its website, according to an archived version of the site, which described them as “individuals who make decisions on a national scale, as well as opinion leaders.” The Right To Bear Arms site said the honorary members were listed “with their consent.”

Many of those listed work alongside Torshin in the Russian parliament. They include top brass from the right-wing nationalist LDPR and Rodina parties. That’s a powerful membership for a group which was founded in 2012 by a then-24-year-old Siberian furniture store owner, Maria Butina, and which has had little success in promoting Russian gun rights.

“For nearly a year, the NRA has avoided answering basic questions about why it cozied up to Moscow and a Russian gun group with close ties to Vladimir Putin’s regime,” John Feinblatt, president of Everytown for Gun Safety, told TPM. “Until the NRA comes clean and starts answering questions, Americans will continue to wonder what the NRA might be hiding.”

An NRA spokesman didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment.

One name on the list, Liberal Democratic Party of Russia (LDPR) leader Vladimir Zhirinovsky, is a longtime ally of Putin, who he has called “the tsar.” For decades, Zhirinovsky has been a leader of Russia’s far right. He has blamed Jews for starting the Second World War and provoking the Holocaust, and he played a key role in helping the intelligence officer suspected of poisoning defector Alexandr Litvinenko get elected to Russia’s parliament. A 2002 video shows a drunken Zhirinovsky threatening Condoleezza Rice, then the U.S. National Security Adviser, with gang rape. In October 2016, Zhirinovsky threatened “Hiroshimas and Nagasakis everywhere” if Americans voted for Hillary Clinton.

Oleg Volk, a Tennessee-based photographer who makes pro-gun posters and graphics, also is listed as an honorary member of The Right to Bear Arms. Volk told TPM that Butina and Torshin presented his honorary membership to him at “a brief lunch meeting” during the 2015 NRA conference in Nashville, as a thank you for making Russian-language images for the group to use.

Volk said he was “amused” to see Zhirinovsky’s name near his own.

“He was kind of the bogeyman in Russian politics, he was very anti-Semitic,” said Volk, who is Jewish. “People like him caused my family to get out of Russia.”

Among the other names on the Right to Bear Arms list: Ilya Drozdov, the deputy head of LDPR, who has called for Ukraine to be “wiped off the map;” as well as at least three other LDPR members.

Alexei Zhuravlev, also on the list, is a high-ranking member of the Russian parliament and the head of the Rodina party, which, like LDPR, opposes the pro-Western government in Ukraine. Zhuravelv has publicly supported the head of the Donetsk Separatists, who declared the eastern Ukrainian region of Donetsk a separate region called “Little Russia.” 

Rodina backs the The Antiglobalization Movement of Russia, which has courted aspiring secessionists in California, Texas and Puerto Rico and actively courts neo-Nazis. In 2015 Rodina hosted a nationalist event that featured attendees from Greek fascist group Golden Dawn and the violent far-right organization Britain First, as well as Ku Klux Klan lawyer and white supremacist Sam Dickson, and Jared Taylor, who leads the white nationalist group American Renaissance*.


*CORRECTION: This story originally referred incorrectly to American Renaissance as an American Nazi group. We apologize for the error.


Russian translation provided by Jerry Vinokurov

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The top Democrat on the House Intelligence committee said that Steve Bannon should face contempt hearings if he continued to refuse to answer all of the committee’s questions. In a statement, Rep. Adam Schiff (D-CA) said the committee was “united on this matter.”

Schiff’s statement also accused the White House of blocking Bannon’s testimony, alleging that Bannon’s lawyer informed the committee that he would only answer “a set of fourteen yes-or-no questions the White House had pre-approved” regarding the presidential transition, Bannon’s tenure in the White House and Bannon’s conversations with President Trump after he left.

Bannon’s initial appearance in front of the House Intel Committee last month devolved into confusion when he, apparently upon instructions from the White House, declined to answer any questions covering the time after the 2016 campaign. His refusal prompted the committee to serve him a subpoena on the spot — a rare moment of bipartisanship for an investigation typically wracked with acrimony.

As they came out of a committee meeting on Monday evening, House Intel Democrats and Republicans alike said they expected Bannon to show up Tuesday morning and comply with their subpoena.

“We have all the tools that the House has to enforce subpoenas and we’ll take the steps necessary,” Rep. Mike Conaway (R-TX), a Republican leader of the Russia probe, said. “I expect him to be here.”

However, later that evening it was reported that Bannon would be a no-show. The interview, according to Schiff and other lawmakers, has now been rescheduled for next week.

Meanwhile, Bannon is also planning to be interviewed by Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s team, during which he reportedly intends to answer anything Mueller asks of him.

“Testifying before the Special Counsel does not obviate Mr. Bannon’s obligations under the subpoena issued by the Committee,” Schiff said. “Should Bannon maintain his refusal to return and testify fully to all questions, the Committee should begin contempt proceedings to compel his testimony.”

Neither the White House nor Bannon’s attorney responded to TPM’s requests for comment.

Read the full Schiff statement below:

“This week, Steve Bannon’s counsel informed the Committee that the White House continues to prohibit Mr. Bannon from testifying to the Committee beyond a set of fourteen yes-or-no questions the White House had pre-approved. The White House’s bar on Bannon’s testimony covers matters during the transition, his tenure at the White House, and his communications with the President since leaving government service, even though the President has not in fact invoked executive privilege.

“This is unacceptable, and the Committee remains united on this matter – the Committee’s subpoena remains in effect and his interview has been rescheduled for next week. Testifying before the Special Counsel does not obviate Mr. Bannon’s obligations under the subpoena issued by the Committee. Should Bannon maintain his refusal to return and testify fully to all questions, the Committee should begin contempt proceedings to compel his testimony.”

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Days after a widely debunked GOP intelligence memo attacking the FBI became public, the House Intelligence Committee voted unanimously Monday to release a Democratic rebuttal to the Republican memo, sending it over to the White House for President Trump to approve of its publication.

“The majority found themselves in an insupportable position when they released a misleading memo and refused to release the Democratic response,” Rep. Adam Schiff (D-CA), the top Democrat on the committee, told reporters after the closed-door vote. “I think they were compelled to take the action they took today. And we think this will be very useful information for the American people to see.”

Democrats had claimed that the Republican memo, which alleged FBI misconduct in its Russia investigation, was misleading, and thus sought to assemble its own report based on the underlying intelligence that they say will add needed context.

Republicans on the Intel Committee last week blocked a Democratic move to release both memos at the same time, but had signaled that they were open to releasing the Dem memo once it went through the same process of classification review that the Republican memo did.

An open question is whether Trump will greenlight the Democratic memo the way he rubber stamped the Republican memo.

Rep. Mike Conaway (R-TX), a Republican who has been a leader of the Russia probe, said he was in favor Trump releasing the memo, while other Republicans on the committee were less committal one way or the other.

Earlier Monday, Trump tweeted the Democratic ranking member Rep. Adam Schiff had “illegally leak[ed] confidential information,” which some took as a hint that the President did not approve of the Dems’ memo’s release.

He has not read Schiff’s memo yet. Before he had read the Republican memo, however, he was picked up on a hot mic telling a lawmaker he “100 percent” supported its release. The Republican memo was written by staff of House Intel Chairman Devin Nunes, based on classified intelligence material the Justice Department turned over to the committee.

Republicans on this and other committees have amped up their attacks of the FBI, as Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s Russia investigation appears have been gaining traction and has already resulted in charges brought against four people associated with Trump or his campaign.

Schiff also said during Monday’s committee meeting, Nunes was asked again, as he was last week, about any coordination with the White House in their push to release the memo. Schiff said Nunes avoided answering the question directly and instead read a “very lawyerly” written response, “saying that the White House had not been involved in the actual drafting of the memo.”

“But in terms of whether it was coordinated with the White House, they were consulted or strategized, the whole concept, he refused to answer those questions,” Schiff said

Republicans have sworn that their memo was not an effort to undermine Mueller, but Trump himself undercut that point by tweeting that it “vindicates” him.

The dueling memos represented an unprecedented politicization of classified intelligence material, and particularly the FISA process by which the U.S. government seeks warrants to surveil U.S. citizens through a highly secretive court.

Prior to the Republican memo’s release, the Justice Department and the FBI very publicly objected to the publication of it. Schiff on Monday said the Democrats had already provided for the Justice Department their memo, and that they welcomed the Department’s vetting to protect sources and methods.

However, Schiff said that that he would also be seeking an explanation for any redactions made at the next step of the process, in case the White House seeks to include redactions for “political purposes.”

The Republican memo alleged that the FBI misled the FISA judge — or possibly, multiple FISA judges — by failing to fully describe who was behind the financing of research by ex-British spy Christopher Steele that they said was an “essential” part of the warrant to surveil Carter Page, a former advisor on the  Trump campaign. Steele’s research was funded by the DNC and the Clinton campaign through intermediaries.

It has since been reported that the FBI had suggested in its Page warrant that Steele’s research was politically motivated.

Dems have also objected to how the GOP memo describes committee testimony from retiring FBI Deputy Director Andrew McCabe, during which (in Republicans’ words) “no surveillance warrant would have been sought from the [The Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court] without the Steele dossier information.”

Outside FISA experts have been extremely skeptical, if not outright incredulous, the FBI would have based its Page warrant solely on Steele’s research.

The process GOP lawmakers used to release their memo was extremely obscure. After voting to let the full House of Representatives to view it last month, their vote last Monday sent it to the President, to give him the opportunity to object to releasing it.

Trump instead sought to declassify it in its entirety without any redactions.  Had he not, Republicans would have had the option of reading it from the House floor or into the congressional record, as a way of publicizing its contents.

“What will we do if the White House essentially redacts to protect itself or refuses to release? I think it’s going to be very hard for the White House, like it was hard for the Republicans on the committee, to block release of this. I am more concerned that they make political redactions,” Schiff said.

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A lawyer for the ex-husband of the woman who had an affair with Missouri Gov. Eric Greitens says prosecutors have convened a grand jury in their investigation into whether Greitens blackmailed the woman.

Al Watkins, the lawyer, announced Monday that his client was served with a subpoena to provide testimony to the grand jury.

The news may represent an escalation of the probe, which was launched last month.

“The issuance of a Grand Jury subpoena conclusively indicates that the Circuit Attorney’s Office has elevated its undertakings to include Grand Jury proceedings, for which subpoena power and other discovery tools are available,” Watkins said in a statement provided to TPM. “The power of subpoena is an invaluable tool to garner evidence and compel testimony which far transcends that which is accorded investigative personnel not otherwise armed with a Grand Jury.”

Greitens, a Republican, has publicly apologized for cheating on his wife and vowed to remain in office through a scandal that has prompted calls for his resignation from members of his own party. He has vehemently denied allegations that he slapped and once took a compromising photograph of the woman that he threatened to release it if she went public about their relationship.

The blackmail claim was made by the woman in a conversation with her then-husband, which he recorded without her knowledge and provided to a local news station.

St. Louis Circuit Attorney Kim Gardner launched the investigation into what she called the “very troubling” allegations against Greitens shortly after they were first surfaced in mid-January.

Watkins has told TPM he began “receiving ongoing consistent contact” about Greitens from an FBI special agent in October 2016.

According to CNN, the FBI recently opened an inquiry into the governor. It’s unclear if the outreach to Watkins is related to the inquiry that two federal officials confirmed to CNN.

The bureau’s St. Louis office has declined to comment on the existence of any investigation related to Greitens.

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Rep. Devin Nunes (R-CA) may have achieved his short-term goal with Friday’s release of a memo that he says demonstrates anti-Trump bias among the Justice Department and FBI’s highest ranks.

President Donald Trump on Saturday crowed that the memo “totally vindicates ‘Trump’” in the investigation into Russia’s interference in the 2016 election. Donald Trump Jr., called the document’s release a “little bit of sweet revenge” for the First Family.

But over the weekend, a different picture emerged. There’s now reason to think that both the document’s underwhelming contents and the contested nature of its release may inadvertently have bolstered, not undermined, Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation.

In other words, the much-hyped Nunes memo may have turned out to be a flop not just in substantive terms but, more importantly, in political ones, too.

The strongest evidence of this came from four of Nunes’ Republican colleagues on the House Intelligence Committee, who made the rounds on the Sunday shows to say that the memo doesn’t absolve Trump and that Mueller’s probe should continue unimpeded.

Rep. Trey Gowdy (R-SC), one of few members of Congress who read the underlying classified evidence on which the memo was based, flat out said that the memo does not have “any impact on the Russia probe.” As the chair of the committee that investigated Hillary Clinton’s role in the response to the Benghazi terror attacks, Gowdy’s bona fides as a partisan Republican are hard to doubt.

Appearing on CBS’ “Face The Nation,” the South Carolina Republican devoted little attention to the memo’s central argument: that intelligence officials failed to disclose how much they relied on a partially Democrat-funded dossier in obtaining a surveillance warrant against former Trump campaign aide Carter Page. Instead, Gowdy pointed to the many other troubling connections between the Trump campaign and Russia that merit a closer look.

“There is a Russia investigation without a dossier,” Gowdy said. “So to the extent the memo deals with the dossier and the FISA process, the dossier has nothing to do with the meeting at Trump Tower. The dossier has nothing to do with an email sent by Cambridge Analytica. The dossier really has nothing to do with George Papadopoulos’ meeting in Great Britain. It also doesn’t have anything to do with obstruction of justice.”

Gowdy’s remarks were backed up by Rep. Brad Wenstrup (R-Ohio), Rep. Chris Stewart (R-Utah), and Rep. Will Hurd (R-Texas), who insisted in separate interviews that the memo was irrelevant to Mueller’s ongoing work.

Trump reportedly disagreed, musing to aides last week that he could use the memo as justification to fire Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein, who oversees Mueller’s investigation. Those conversations—and the President’s decision to release the memo over the vehement objections of his own DOJ and FBI—could bolster the obstruction of justice case against Trump, former federal prosecutor Renato Mariotti argued in a recent New York Times op-ed.

And the memo’s release forced the White House to again go on the record insisting that the President doesn’t plan to lay a finger on his deputy attorney general. Deputy press secretary Raj Shah told CNN that there will be “no changes” at the DOJ, while White House spokesman Hogan Gidley added that “there are no conversations and no considerations about firing Rod Rosenstein.” Those comments indicate that Rosenstein’s position is now more, rather than less, secure than it was before the memo was out.

The fallout also extended to the FBI. Trump ignored the protestations of his handpicked director, Chris Wray, who argued that the memo was misleading, prompting the FBI Agents Association of rank-and-file agents to publicly take Wray’s side.

A former FBI counterterrorism investigator explicitly called out the memo and “politicians seeking partisan gain” in a Times op-ed explaining why he was leaving the bureau after 10 years of service, arguing that politicized attacks threaten “the credibility of the entire institution.”

To be clear, the GOP campaign to discredit the FBI is having some effect. An Axios poll conducted over the weekend found that only 38 percent of Republicans approve of the bureau, compared to 47 percent who disapprove. That suggests the GOP base may be primed to discount the conclusions of Mueller’s investigation.

Breitbart and Fox News, too, have cited the memo as proof that the intelligence community abused its powers to thwart Trump. But less unapologetically pro-Trump outlets were much more skeptical. Articles in both Red State and National Review argued that if Nunes and the White House wanted the document released in the name of greater transparency, they should also release the point-by-point Democratic rebuttal from Rep. Adam Schiff (D-CA).

Republicans on the committee last week voted to block the publication of that document, at least until it had been declassified. But the fallout from Nunes’ memo appears to have changed the political calculation. As of Monday afternoon, Republicans on the committee appeared poised to approve the Democratic memo’s release in a vote later in the evening.

If it passes, the President will then be put in the position of giving final approval to the release of a document that buttresses the foundations of the federal Russia investigation he calls a witch-hunt.

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Senate Judiciary Chair Chuck Grassley (R-IA) is still going hard after Christopher Steele, the ex-British spy who compiled the so-called Trump dossier.

After referring Steele to the Justice Department last month for criminal prosecution, Grassley was back at it Monday, publicly releasing a heavily redacted version of a memo alleging that Steele materially misled the FBI about his contacts with the media.

Grassley released his memo, which he sent Justice Department last month with the criminal referral for Steele, after receiving permission from the FBI to do so, with redactions. He unveiled it Monday alongside a letter to the Justice Department seeking that the department declassify the material redacted in the memo.

“The government should not be blotting out information that it admits isn’t secret, and it should not take dramatic steps by Congress and the White House to get answers that the American people are demanding,” Grassley said in a press release accompanying the memo and the letter.

Grassley’s desire to release a memo impugning Steele echoes the efforts of House Intel Chairman Devin Nunes, whose widely-debunked memo released last week alleged the FBI misled a surveillance court about its use of Steele’s research in a Russia probe FISA application.

With the redactions, it’s hard to make out exactly what Grassley is accusing Steele of. However, the unredacted portions of his memo reference fall 2016 media reports on Steele’s work, as well as statements Steele has made in a British lawsuits about his media contacts during that period.

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