Wednesday, September 19, 2018
Editorials

Editorial: Stop the partisan war on FBI, Justice Department

The release of the Republicans’ classified memo alleging wrongdoing by the Justice Department and the FBI in its investigation of a former campaign adviser to President Donald Trump fell far short of the hype. But it furthered the president’s unprecedented effort to undermine public credibility in the criminal justice system that is investigating Russian interference in the election. Congress should not continue to be complicit in the president’s dangerous attack on federal law enforcement, and the special counsel’s investigation should continue to follow the evidence wherever it leads.

Of course, Trump used the release of the memo to claim "complete vindication" and complained "the Russian Witch Hunt goes on and on.’’ The four-page memo does not clear the president or his campaign from any possible collusion with the Russians’ well-documented effort to influence the outcome of the election. In fact, it reveals several details to suggest the investigation began sooner and has been more deliberate than Trump would like Americans to believe.

For example, the memo focuses on evidence presented to the secret Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court to win approval for electronic surveillance of former Trump campaign adviser Carter Page. That order was sought in October 2016, but the memo notes the FBI investigation opened in late July 2016 after the agency received information about another Trump campaign adviser, George Papadopoulos. The memo also notes the FISA court renewed the warrants involving Page three times, which would have required law enforcement officials to show they were obtaining valuable evidence.

This is a partisan memo that lacks context and paints an incomplete picture. It discusses how the FISA warrants to target Page were based largely on information from a list of unproven allegations about Trump that were compiled by a former British intelligence agent paid by Democrats. But it is law enforcement’s job to determine the veracity of allegations, and Democratic members of Congress say the dossier was only a small factor in the effort to obtain FISA warrants to surveil Page.

Transparency is important, but the release of this memo drafted for Republicans on the House Intelligence Committee and ordered declassified by Trump has nothing to do with transparency. If the goal is to give Americans a more complete picture of the investigation, then the president should agree to declassify the Democrats’ memo on the same issue. Since Trump allowed the Republican memo to be released, the FISA court also should agree to the New York Times’ request Monday to unseal secret documents related to the wiretapping of Page.

Selectively releasing the Republican memo is entirely about aiding Trump’s efforts to erode the integrity of the Justice Department and the FBI as the Russian investigation continues. It is about laying the groundwork to try to justify any foolish effort by the president to fire the deputy attorney general, Rod Rosenstein, and clear the way to fire Mueller. That would spark a constitutional crisis, and as Sen. John McCain has warned, "The latest attacks on the FBI and Department of Justice serve no American interests — no party’s, no president’s, only Putin’s.’’

McCain is right. While Trump keeps tweeting, House Speaker Paul Ryan and other prominent Republicans should stop enabling his attacks on the federal law enforcement and intelligence community. Americans deserve to know the entire truth about the Russians’ efforts to influence the election and whether the Trump campaign colluded with that effort, not just the slanted version from a partisan memo. The only way to get a complete picture is for the Mueller investigation to continue unimpeded.

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Wednesday’s letters: How home rule can help fight Red Tide

Red Tide on march | Sept. 18How home rule can help fight Red TideAt the end of 2005, as Red Tide ravaged the beaches and intracoastal waterways of Southwest Florida, volunteers from the Suncoast Sierra Club formed a coastal task force to begin de...
Published: 09/18/18
Cartoons for Wednesday, Sept. 19

Cartoons for Wednesday, Sept. 19

Editorial cartoons from Times wires
Published: 09/18/18
Editorial: FDA acts to keep e-cigarettes from kids

Editorial: FDA acts to keep e-cigarettes from kids

The federal Food and Drug Administration is bringing important scrutiny to the increasing use of e-cigarettes, requiring companies that make and sell them to show they are keeping their products away from minors. Vaping is the new front in the nation...
Published: 09/18/18

Tuesday’s letters: Honor Flight restored my faith in America

Dogs are the best | Letter, Sept. 15Honor Flight restored my faith in AmericaJust as I was about to give up on our country due to divisiveness and and the divisions among its people and politicians, my pride was restored. As a member of the recen...
Published: 09/17/18
Updated: 09/18/18

Editorial cartoons for Sept. 18

From Times wires
Published: 09/17/18

Column: We’re measuring the economy all wrong

Ten years after the collapse of Lehman Bros., the official economic statistics — the ones that fill news stories, television shows and presidential tweets — say that the U.S. economy is fully recovered.The unemployment rate is lower tha...
Published: 09/17/18
Editorial: Senate should delay vote on Kavanaugh

Editorial: Senate should delay vote on Kavanaugh

The Senate and the nation needs to hear more about the sexual assault allegation against U.S. Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh. Setting aside Kavanaugh's judicial record, his political past and the hyper-partisan divide over his nomination, a no...
Published: 09/17/18
Editorial: Tampa council has another chance to show it takes Stovall House changes seriously

Editorial: Tampa council has another chance to show it takes Stovall House changes seriously

The Tampa City Council has yet to hear a compelling reason to allow a private social club in a residential neighborhood off Bayshore Boulevard, and a final meeting on the matter scheduled for Thursday offers the council a chance to show the diligence...
Published: 09/14/18
Editorial: Focus on Hurricane Florence, not defending poor response in Puerto Rico

Editorial: Focus on Hurricane Florence, not defending poor response in Puerto Rico

Hurricane Florence began lashing down on the Carolinas Thursday and was expected to make landfall early Friday, washing over dunes, downing trees and power lines and putting some 10 million people in the path of a potentially catastrophic storm. Flor...
Published: 09/13/18
Editorial: Scott sends positive signal on Supreme Court appointments

Editorial: Scott sends positive signal on Supreme Court appointments

Gov. Rick Scott has headed down a dangerous path by announcing he has started the process to fill three upcoming vacancies on the Florida Supreme Court as he heads out the door. But to his credit, the governor indicated his "expectation’’ is that he ...
Published: 09/12/18
Updated: 09/14/18