Following an exhausting day of the liberal media being in a constant state of panic after the release of the Republican House Intelligence Committee memo, Friday’s NBC Nightly News pulled its weight in not emphasizing the memo’s contents but how the “politically-charged” “partisan grenade” has some claiming that this will trigger “a constitutional crisis.”
Anchor Lester Holt set the tone from the opening tease, declaring that the “wild day in Washington” was triggered by the “disputed secret memo” with “[u]npredcented disclosures” that left the self-sanctimonious James Comey furious.
The memo led the newscast with Holt knocking the “politically-charged” memo’s release “despite warnings from the head of the FBI that it would be a mistake and tonight, he's using it as ammo in his latest salvo against his own Justice Department.” So much for the memo being a giant nothingburger as some in the media have claimed.
National correspondent Peter Alexander must have taken talking points from Democratic Congressman and media fan boy Adam Schiff (Calif.), starting his portion by fretting that the memo’s arrival “comes amid months of relentless attacks by President Trump against the very people who are leading the Russia investigation.”
He also sought to discredit the memo before outlining a single thing in the memo by blasting it as “not a legal document” or “an intelligence finding.”
Alexander bemoaned that the memo was “first leaked to conservative media outlets” then only summarized the memo and offered only one direct quote (which he then used “a Democratic source” to knock down the memo).
How original. What’s so pathetically predictable is how Democrats leaking intelligence information have faced zero scrutiny while the bar for any Republican is insurmountable.
“Democrats and the intelligence community argue the memo is inaccurate and misleading..Its release unprecedented, undercutting trust between the intelligence community and members of Congress that oversee it,” he added.
Chief White House correspondent Hallie Jackson picked up moments later, starting with a bang by dubbing the memo a “partisan grenade.” Gee, one wonders if she’ll do the same when the Schiff memo comes out.
After a soundbite from a member of Congress from each party (Democrat Jackie Speier and Republican Jim Jordan), Jackson dubiously declared: “So, is the memo evidence of an anti-Trump conspiracy or an attempt to smear the Special Counsel's Russia investigation? Depends who you ask.”
Right on cue following a Schiff soundbite, Jackson promoted the apocalyptic and reckless argument from Democrats that “the memo is filled with factual errors and could bring the U.S. to the brink of a constitutional crisis.”
Wrapping up the segment with a soundbite from moderate Republican and CNBC contributor Sara Fagen, Jackson told Holt that “Democrats want their so-called counter-memo to be released as well, but it's not clear if or when a vote on that will happen” and that, in addition to wanting their memo released, they want Nunes removed.
To see the relevant transcript from February 2's NBC Nightly News, click “expand”:
NBC Nightly News
February 2, 2018
7:00 p.m. Eastern [TEASE]
[ON-SCREEN HEADLINE: Secret Memo Revealed]
LESTER HOLT: Tonight, that disputed secret memo revealed as President Trump overrules the FBI. What it says and doesn't say about the feds, the Trump dossier and a British spy. Unprecedented disclosures blasted by James Comey as dishonest and misleading. A wild day in Washington.
7:01 p.m. Eastern
[ON-SCREEN HEADLINE: Secret Memo Revealed]
LESTER HOLT: But we, of course, start with the firestorm raging in Washington tonight. Hours after President Tump declassified a Republican-crafted memo that tries to make the case that the FBI played fast and loose in its gathering of evidence in the Russia investigation. The President made the politically-charged memo public despite warnings from the head of the FBI that it would be a mistake and tonight, he's using it as ammo in his latest salvo against his own Justice Department. Tonight, a look at just what that memo says and the telling glimpses it offers into how the Russia investigation is proceeding. Let's start with NBC's Peter Alexander. Peter, good evening.
PETER ALEXANDER: Hey Lester, good evening to you. The release of this memo comes amid months of relentless attacks by President Trump against the very people who are leading the Russia investigation. This memo is not a legal document, not an intelligence finding and tonight, even the President's own lawyer says it's the opinion of the Republicans who wrote it. President Trump tonight defying the FBI and Justice Department. [TO PRESIDENT DONALD TRUMP] Why make this memo public?
PRESIDENT DONALD TRUMP: I think it's a disgrace what's happening in our country. A lot of people should be ashamed of themselves and much worse than that.
ALEXANDER: By midday, that memo, first leaked to conservative media outlets was posted by House Republicans. It accuses senior law enforcement officials of abusing their powers to spy on a former Trump campaign adviser, Carter Page, who they suspected was a foreign agent for Russia. The memo alleges the application for a warrant relies on an unverified dossier compiled by Christopher Steele, an ex-British intelligence operative, and fails to “disclose...the role of the DNC [or] Clinton campaign in funding Steele's efforts.” But tonight, a Democratic congressional source says the court was told about Steele's political bias but may not have been specifically told that the information was financed by Democrats. A former government lawyer says what matters is whether Steele knew what he was talking about, not what motivated him.
CHUCK ROSENBERG: We shouldn't be surprised when our informants, the bases for our affidavits, are less than savory.
ALEXANDER: Democrats and the intelligence community argue the memo is inaccurate and misleading. The disputed document also reveals that Trump-appointed Justice Department officials, including Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein, were among those who signed off four times on renewing warrant requests, meaning the surveillance of Carter Page was producing results. Its release unprecedented, undercutting trust between the intelligence community and members of Congress that oversee it.
JEFFREY SMITH: It's that undermining of the trust which makes it enormously more difficult for the FBI and the CIA to do their jobs.
ALEXANDER: Tonight, FBI director Christopher Wray sending a message to all his employees strongly defending his agency, making clear he's not going to leave. Peter Alexander, NBC News, the White House.
HALLIE JACKSON: I'm Hallie Jackson in Washington where that four-page memo is now a partisan grenade.
[ON-SCREEN HEADLINE: Bitter Partisan Divide Over Declassified Memo]
DEMOCRATIC CONGRESSWOMAN JACKIE SPEIER (Calif.): Intent here is to shut down the investigation.
REPUBLICAN CONGRESSMAN JIM JORDAN (Ohio); Four times they took this dossier and dressed it all up like it was some legitimate intelligence.
JACKSON: So, is the memo evidence of an anti-Trump conspiracy or an attempt to smear the Special Counsel's Russia investigation? Depends who you ask with the man who oversees the Special Counsel under a microscope, Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein.
TRUMP: You figure that one out.
JACKSON: Since Rosenstein oversees the Special Counsel, Democrats worry the memo will be used as a pretext to discredit and dismiss Rosenstein and ultimately end the Special Counsel investigation.
DEMOCRATIC CONGRESSMAN ADAM SCHIFF (Calif.): They hope to help the White House in its effort to undermine the FBI, undermine Bob Mueller, throw discredit on the government, anything but look at the Russia investigation and what the Trump campaign did.
JACKSON: Democrats argue the memo is filled with factual errors and could bring the U.S. to the brink of a constitutional crisis. Some Republicans see it differently.
REPUBLICAN CONGRESSMAN MARK MEADOWS (N.C.): There was nothing factually inaccurate.
REPUBLICAN CONGRESSMAN DEVIN NUNES (Calif.): The American citizens that are represented before this court have to be protected, and the only place that can protect them is the U.S. Congress when abuses do occur.
JACKSON: Still, others in the GOP, like Susan Collins, argue the legitimate oversight function congress should have has been “tarnished by partisanship” with House Speaker Paul Ryan cautioning this memo should not be used to “impugn the integrity of the Justice system and the FBI.”
SARA FAGEN: It's really important for Republicans to take a step back and think these are public servants. [SCREEN WIPE] We need to stop and remember they're serving the country and our language and our tone needs to be measured.
JACKSON: Democrats want their so-called counter-memo to be released as well, but it's not clear if or when a vote on that will happen. The political battle on this has gotten so heated the top Democrat on the House Intelligence Committee is telling NBC News late tonight he thinks the top Republican should step down from that chairmanship altogether. Lester?
HOLT: Hallie Jackson at the White House tonight, thank you.