Trump Claims The Nunes Memo “Totally Vindicates” Him. It Doesn’t.

President Trump is claiming that the Nunes memo vindicates him. He's wrong.

From the friendly confines of his Mar-A-Lago home where he’s spending another “working weekend” conveniently close to one of his golf courses, President Trump claims that the memorandum released yesterday by the Republicans on the House Intelligence Committee “totally vindicates” him, he couldn’t possibly be more incorrect:

President Trump said Saturday morning that a disputed four-page House Intelligence Committee memo, composed by Republicans and declassified by him on Friday, “totally vindicates ‘Trump'” in an FBI investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 election, including possible ties to his campaign.

“This memo totally vindicates ‘Trump’ in probe. But the Russian Witch Hunt goes on and on,” the president wrote in a tweet at 9:40 a.m. Saturday. “Their was no Collusion and there was no Obstruction (the word now used because, after one year of looking endlessly and finding NOTHING, collusion is dead). This is an American disgrace!”

It’s unclear why the president put his last name in quotation marks, although he often speaks of himself in the third-person, and the tweet used the word “their” instead of “there.” The president is in Palm Beach, Fla., this weekend, and the tweet came minutes after his motorcade left his private club, en route to the Trump International Golf Club in West Palm Beach.

The GOP memo was composed by the staff of House Intelligence Committee Chairman Devin Nunes (R-Calif.) and alleges the FBI abused its surveillance authority, particularly when it sought a secret court order to monitor a former Trump campaign adviser, Carter Page. The FBI and the Justice Department lobbied against the release of the memo, with the FBI saying that it was ”gravely concerned” that key facts were missing from it.

The memo states that the findings “raise concerns with the legitimacy and legality of certain [Justice Department] and FBI interactions with the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court (FISC),” which authorizes surveillance of individuals believed to be agents of foreign powers. The memo cites “a troubling breakdown of legal processes established to protect the American people from abuses related to the FISA process,” a reference to the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act.

The memo alleges that a surveillance warrant was obtained and renewed on a former Trump campaign adviser, Page, with information from an individual with an anti-Trump agenda. Republicans have argued that the warrant taints the origins of special counsel Robert S. Mueller III’s investigation into possible coordination between Trump associates and agents of the Russian government during the 2016 campaign.

Here’s the President’s Tweet:

The most notable thing about the Tweet that was picked up by many people on Twitter when it was posted is the fact that the President refers to himself in the third-person and, for some reason, put his name in quotation marks. The reason for this is unknown but its not uncommon for Trump to refer to himself in this manner, so I don’t really see anything significant in that quirk other than it being another example of Trump being Trump, or is that “Trump” being “Trump.”

Putting that stylistic observation to the side, the content of the memorandum doesn’t even come close to vindicating Trump in connection with Russian interference in the election, the issue of whether or not there was real or attempted collusion with the Russians on the part of people affiliated with the Trump campaign or efforts by Trump to undermine the investigation after he became President. The memo itself acknowledges all of this near the end when it states that the F.B.I. opened its Russia investigation not in response to any information obtained pursuant to the warrant issued against former Trump campaign aide Cater Page by the FISA Court, but after the Bureau received word of a conversation between Trump foreign policy adviser George Papadopoulos and an Australian diplomat over drinks. During that conversation, Papadopoulos told the diplomat that he had been told by a Kremlin conduct that the Russian government had “dirt” on Hillary Clinton. That conversation, which occurred roughly around the same time as the July 2016 Trump Tower meeting between Donald Trump Jr. and other Trump campaign insiders and a Russian lawyer with ties to the government that had been sold to Trump Jr. as being for the purpose of passing along “dirt” on Hillary Clinton. Papadopoulos has, of course, since pled guilty to a charge of lying to an F.B.I. agent and is now a cooperating witness in the Mueller investigation. This conversation quickly came to the knowledge of officials in the Justice Department, and an F.B.I. investigation into the matter was opened. This was more than three months before the first warrant request to surveil Carter Page was made to the FISA Court. Additionally, all of the allegations in the memorandum pre-date Robert Mueller’s appointment as special counsel and do not implicate any of the officials tied to that investigation in any wrongdoing, or in some cases in any involvement at all in obtaining the warrant against Page.

In addition to not vindicating Trump with respect to any charges related to the election, the memo does not address any aspect of the potential claims that he has engaged in a pattern of behavior designed to obstruct and undermine the investigation from the moment he became President. To start with, the memo addresses a warrant that was originally requested prior to the time that Trump was even elected President, although it’s interesting to note that Justice Department lawyers requested extensions of that warrant in January, April, and July of last year at which time they would have been required to present evidence showing that there was probable cause to continue the surveillance that went beyond the original justification for the warrant. In any case, the memo does not address any of the actions that Trump has taken that have been at the very least suspicious. This includes asking F.B.I. Director James Comey to go easy on former NSC Adviser Michael Flynn, asking Comey for loyalty, firing James Comey, pressuring the heads of the intelligence agencies to vindicate him in the Russia investigation, pressuring Senators to shut down the Russia investigation by the Senate Intelligence Committee, trying to fire Robert Mueller only to be stopped by his White House counsel. It also doesn’t address Trump’s role in drafting a false statement about the purpose of the meeting between his son, his son-in-law, and his campaign manager and a lawyer affiliated with the Russian government.

In other words, even if you take everything in the Nunes memo as a true and complete summary of the underlying documents, there is nothing about the memorandum that vindicates Trump in any respect. That investigation continues forward, and unless he takes actions that would clearly set off a Constitutional crisis such as firing Assistant Attorney General Rod Rosenstein or Robert Mueller, it will continue. Trump may wish otherwise, but this is far from over.

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Doug Mataconis
About Doug Mataconis
Doug Mataconis held a B.A. in Political Science from Rutgers University and J.D. from George Mason University School of Law. He joined the staff of OTB in May 2010 and contributed a staggering 16,483 posts before his retirement in January 2020. He passed far too young in July 2021.


  1. CSK says:

    Has Trump actually read the memo, or did he just get President Sean Hannity to “explain” its contents to him?

  2. Mark Ivey says:

    Nunes should of had the Russians type up the memo. Sad.

  3. gVOR08 says:

    You know it doesn’t vindicate Trump, and I know it doesn’t vindicate Trump. But the 35% or so who follow FOX, Limbaugh, Breitbart, et al…

  4. Gustopher says:

    It doesn’t matter that the memo doesn’t vindicate Trump, so long as the Republicans keep saying it does, and acting as if it does.

    Then you get the “reasonable people disagree” narrative, or the “partisan Democrats refuse to acknowledge” narrative, and Trump uses it as an excuse to fire Rosenstein and Mueller anyway.

    It’s all part of the post-truth presidency.

  5. al-Ameda says:

    Trump is the guy who flies you down to Mar-A-Lago, 1 day expenses fully-paid, to make the pitch, to get you to buy timeshare luxury condominiums in Mogadishu, Baghdad, or Rakaa.

    He’s in full make-the-sale mode now, he will say anything to close the deal, to get people to believe that Mueller’s investigation is a witch hunt fraud.

    I’m hoping that Mueller has a lot more than Republicans think he has, and that more than 1 or 2 Republicans have the testosterone to stand up and support the investigation.

  6. michael reynolds says:

    I don’t think so in this case. The complete nothingburger nature of the over-hyped memo has left the Trumpaloons sounding deflated. It won’t subtract from Trump’s cult of personality, but it won’t help it, either.

    What Trump and Nunes were obviously hoping for just is not there. Add in McCain’s attack and Trey Gowdy’s statement that Mueller should continue, and this amounts to a self-inflicted wound.

  7. Mikey says:

    @michael reynolds:

    The complete nothingburger nature of the over-hyped memo has left the Trumpaloons sounding deflated. It won’t subtract from Trump’s cult of personality, but it won’t help it, either.

    Since I am a retired military person, my social media feeds contain plenty of Trump supporters. They have gone all but silent after the release of this memo. Even they realize what a complete dud it is.

    Sadly, it doesn’t yet seem they understand what a complete dud the President is, but maybe, just maybe, there’s a glimmer of hope…

  8. michael reynolds says:

    I sometimes judge the mood of the Trumpaloons by replying to a Trump tweet. When they think they’ve got something, they come firing back. But, as you say: silence. You can also watch our local cultists. The relatively aware ones (JKB) down to the simple liars like J-e-n-o-s, and the morons like TM01 and John. Only the dumbest are engaging on this issue.

    For one thing none of these people are read-in on the story since they listen to nothing but Fox. They can’t make a case for the memo because doing so requires at least a modicum of knowledge of the case – and when all you listen to are lies you’re not going to get a sense of the case. So they’re down to sputtering nonsense and attacking John McCain.

    And I suspect forcing Trumpaloons to even think about the memo has opened a few minds to the reality of the impending political apocalypse. It’s a funny thing, when you try to refute someone’s case you have to first understand it. Many of those people are having their first encounter with the reality of #TrumpTreason. A few may even re-join the real world.

  9. okdoky says:

    I am no Trumpette but i don’t give a rats arrse about Trumps collusion, i do however care Obama, Clinton, Holder, Jarett, Comey, are walking free! What is wrong w you people?

  10. HarvardLaw92 says:

    This sounds familiar.

    Where have I heard it before?

  11. CSK says:

    @michael reynolds:

    The really hardcore Trumpkins get their “news” exclusively from Breitbart, The Conservative Treehouse, and The Gateway Pundit, so they’re convinced that this memo proves beyond a doubt that “The Deep State” is in the process of executing a coup d’etat. Someone at Trump Central ( suggested that Trump get a bodyguard of Navy SEALs to protect him against the assassins waiting to descend on the White House.

  12. Jake says:

    As I said to Tucker the other night, there’s no evidence of Russian government interference with the 2016 election, but there’s plenty of evidence of US government interference with the 2016 election. The latter ought to be far more disturbing. All foreign governments can be expected to pursue their national interests as they see fit. That the most powerful forces within your own government decide to subvert the election result is far more bizarre, and far graver.

    The surveillance of Carter Page was a cover for the surveillance of Trump. The creation of the Steele dossier was a cover for the “Full Investigation” of the Trump campaign. The rumors of Kremlin “kompromat” are a cover for the widespread dissemination of Democrat “kompromat”. And “foreign interference” in the US election is cover for domestic interference in the US election.

  13. Jake says:

    Rep. Nunes Exposes COMEY’S BIG DOSSIER LIE – Then Challenges Him to Come Back to Congress and Testify (VIDEO)

  14. CSK says:


    Jake, Jake, Jake. The Gateway Pundit? It’s Crackpot City. These people make up stories out of whole cloth.

  15. HarvardLaw92 says:

    Now he’s spamming the same shite on multiple threads.

    How cute 🙂

  16. Terrye Cravens says:

    @okdoky: So, what was their crime? Being Democrats?

  17. Terrye Cravens says:

    @Jake: There is no way I am going to read a link from Gateway. They lie all the damn time…almost as much as Trump.

  18. HarvardLaw92 says:


    What is wrong w you people?

    Unfortunately, we were born intelligent. Just how it goes, I guess.

  19. Just 'nutha ig'nint cracker says:

    @gVOR08: Exactly! Anyone who wants to can see that Trump and his entourage are hacks. But the Trumpaloons cry out “No! You’re the hacks! And you hate America, too!”

    Wash, Rinse, Repeat.

  20. James Pearce says:


    there’s plenty of evidence of US government interference with the 2016 election.

    The election that Trump won ?

    Seriously, if the Dems and the left get their stuff together, it’s lights out for you guys.

  21. becca says:

    @CSK: Do you think that matters to cupcakes like Jake?

  22. al-Ameda says:


    I am no Trumpette but i don’t give a rats arrse about Trumps collusion, i do however care Obama, Clinton, Holder, Jarett, Comey, are walking free! What is wrong w you people?

    You may not know this but, in normal ‘regular order’ Democratic and Liberal Republican America, it is generally the case that innocent people (such as Obama, Clinton, Holder, Jarett, Comey) are walking free.

    That concludes my Public Service Announcement to people who say that they’re no Trumpette but follow up that unproven assertion by predictably suggesting that Obama, Clinton, Holder, Jarett, Comey should be in jail.

    You’re welcome.

  23. CSK says:


    Apparently not.

  24. Teve tory says:

    I love how you can almost always tell a trumper comment just by glancing at the grammar, spelling, and punctuation.

  25. Liberal Capitalist says:

    @Teve tory:

    I love how you can almost always tell a trumper comment just by glancing at the grammar, spelling, and punctuation.

    Trumper: “I wash born here, an I wash raished here, and dad gum it, I am gonna die here, an no sidewindin’ bushwackin’, hornswagglin’ cracker croaker libral is gonna rouin me bishen cutter.”

    Fox News: “Now who can argue with that? I think we’re all indebt to the Trumpers in Northeast Southwestern Podunk for stating what needed to be said. I am particularly glad that these lovely children are here today to hear that speech. Not only was it authentic frontier gibberish, it expressed the courage little seen in this day and age. ”

    Trump: See: Many people say that I’m the best president.

  26. grumpy realist says:

    @okdoky: Of course you don’t, dearie. Reality and Truth have never meant much to you, right?

    Now scamper back to Breitbart where you came from.