WASHINGTON ― House Republicans spent the end of the workweek telling everyone who would listen that the American people must be allowed to see a top-secret four-page document that could bring an end to special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation into Russian interference with the 2016 elections.
One thing about that document: Republican staffers wrote it.
The memo Republican staffers compiled reveals information that is “absolutely shocking,” “sickening,” “jaw-dropping” and “worse than Watergate,” GOP members of Congress said Thursday and Friday. The document could send government officials to jail, one congressman said. “Is this happening in America or is this the KGB?” asked another.
Even the most plugged-in news consumer could be forgiven for thinking the classified memo is an executive branch document that exposes wrongdoing within the Justice Department and the FBI. It isn’t.
The document, which alleges abuses of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act during the FBI’s quiet counterintelligence investigation into the Trump campaign in the final months of the 2016 election, was actually compiled by Republican staffers on the House Intelligence Committee. That committee voted along partisan lines this week to allow any member of Congress to take a peek at the document themselves. Republican members soon flocked to a secure room to read the memo written by their allies — and then ran to tell the press about it.
Sara Carter, a Fox News contributor, wrote in a blog post on her personal website that the “bombshell” document “could lead to the removal of senior officials in the FBI and Department of Justice” and potentially spell the end of the Mueller probe. Carter’s post was widely shared on Twitter, including by Rep. Louie Gohmert (R-Texas), former Rep. Jack Kingston (R-Ga.), Tom Fitton of Judicial Watch and former White House official Sebastian Gorka. Ahead of Carter’s appearance on Fox News’ “Hannity” on Thursday night, Sean Hannity used the story to send a “message” to Mueller.
“Your witch hunt is now over,” Hannity said, addressing the Republican special counsel who was unanimously confirmed as FBI director in 2001 by the U.S. Senate, which a decade later unanimously voted to extend his term past the 10-year limit. “Time to close the doors.”
Overnight, #ReleaseTheMemo ― a hashtag reportedly given an additional boost by Russian-connected bots ― started trending on Twitter. In less than 24 hours, Donald Trump Jr. ― a likely target of the Mueller probe who communicated with Wikileaks before the election and held a meeting at Trump Tower with a Russian lawyer promising dirt on Hillary Clinton ― sent off more than 30 tweets and retweets about the memo to his nearly 2.5 million followers.