Nancy Pelosi appeared on CNN with Chris Cuomo Monday and attempted to lay out the case against releasing the Nunes memo everyone has been talking about for weeks. She made all the same points that Adam Schiff and others have been making, i.e. the memo is a dishonest summary of the underlying classified documents. “It’s a cover-up and it’s a distraction,” Pelosi said. Mostly what comes through in this interview though is a sense of jittery desperation and frustration. When Cuomo suggests that, under the circumstances, maybe releasing this won’t be the end of the world, Pelosi snaps back, “you don’t know what you’re talking about.”
The interview really kicked into high gear with this long statement/question from Cuomo, during which Pelosi seems like she’s trying to remember her talking points or perhaps dealing with a cracked tooth (check the video below). “So help me understand this,” Cuomo said. He continued, “I know you can’t reveal classified information…I”m not going to push you on that. But I will push you on this one idea. It is hard, I have to believe it’s hard for the American people to have faith that anybody in this city where we are right now is out for the truth and not out for politics.
“And I can understand why they want it all released, Congresswoman, I can understand why they want it all out because they say ‘You know what, we can’t trust you guys. Let us read it. Let us figure it out. You can redact the names. You can make it safe enough for us to look at.’
“Because they say the same thing about you. The Russia investigation—there’s no collusion. You guys are pushing the ball for political advantage to stymie the president. And they talk about this memo like it should’ve been in the Raiders of the Lost Ark, this thing—that this is the holy grail of the truth about what was happening during the campaign and it points the finger at the Democrats and the FBI.”
Pelosi’s responded, “We’re not going to become them, the Republicans. Because they are totally irresponsible in this regard.” She added, “We’re not talking about some issue that we’re having a fight about, we’re talking about our national security.”
Asked if releasing the memo would put lives at stake, Pelosi backed away, suggesting it had more to do with other countries be willing to share intelligence with the U.S. “Why would they put it at the mercy of Dennis Nunes,” Pelosi said, mangling the name of Rep. Devin Nunes. “There isn’t one person in the intelligence community…that would say this is not reckless,” Pelosi argued.
“Christopher Wray, the director of the FBI obviously, recently selected by President Trump, he got the memo,” Cuomo pointed out, adding, “He could have come out and said ‘This is reckless, don’t release it.'”
“Let me just say this with all due respect, you really don’t know what you’re talking about right now,” Pelosi replied, clearly frustrated that Cuomo wasn’t agreeing with her. She then argued that Christopher Wray was not in a position to know all that needed to be redacted in the memo. That may be true but the larger point remains, i.e. not everyone who has seen it is in a Pelosi-panic about its release.
If Democrats really believe the memo is a dishonest mess, a calculated lie that is easily debunked, why are they fighting so hard to keep it hidden? Do they really care about avoiding leaks of government secrets that much? Why aren’t they eager to let this get out so they can debunk it point by point and prove, once and for all, that Republicans in Congress can’t be trusted? Shouldn’t they in some sense be rooting for the GOP to step on this landmine of their own making? Won’t this help Democrats make the case they should be in control in 2018 and 2020? Instead, they seem desperate to keep it under wraps.
Cuomo is on to something here. Washington is so politicized, on both sides of the aisle, that it’s impossible to know who is telling the truth about most of this. Maybe the best course at this point is to just let people see everything, including the Democratic counter-memo, and let them make up their own minds. Even if it causes some short-term problems with a few allies, in the long run, what matters more is that people have confidence in what the FBI/DOJ is doing behind the scenes or, alternatively, that necessary reforms are made.
Here’s the exchange. Cuomo’s long question starts at about 2:30 in this clip. Pelosi’s “you really don’t know what you’re talking about” response comes at 6:15.