Saturday, June 23, 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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Editorial: Handing out gift cards like candy at CareerSource

Editorial: Handing out gift cards like candy at CareerSource

It’s hard to pick the biggest outrage in the financial and ethical swamp that has swallowed Tampa Bay’s two primary job placement agencies, CareerSource Pinellas and CareerSource Tampa Bay. Is it the boiler room atmosphere where CareerSource recruite...
Published: 06/21/18
Updated: 06/22/18

Family separation crisis is not over

The family-separation crisis that President Donald Trump created is not over. The executive order Trump signed Wednesday purporting to end the routine tearing of children from their undocumented parents stands on uncertain legal ground. U.S. border a...
Published: 06/21/18
Updated: 06/22/18
Editorial: State help needed to staff hotlines with veterans helping veterans

Editorial: State help needed to staff hotlines with veterans helping veterans

Veterans can help veterans deal with trauma resulting from military service in a way no one else can. That’s the theory behind a special hotline set up in the Tampa Bay area that proponents are hoping to take statewide.The expansion would cost some $...
Published: 06/21/18
Updated: 06/22/18
Editorial: With Supreme Court ruling, Florida should collect sales tax from online retailers

Editorial: With Supreme Court ruling, Florida should collect sales tax from online retailers

It turns out the U.S. Supreme Court has a better grasp of the economic realities of the 21st century than Congress or the Florida Legislature. The court ruled Thursday that states can require online retailers to collect sales taxes even if the retail...
Published: 06/21/18
Updated: 06/22/18
Editorial: Congress should ban splitting kids, parents

Editorial: Congress should ban splitting kids, parents

The shocking scenes of immigrant children crying after being taken from their parents at the border exposed a new level of cruelty by the Trump administration, and though the president reversed course Wednesday, Congress needs to end the shameful pra...
Published: 06/21/18
Sessions kickstarts action on marijuana

Sessions kickstarts action on marijuana

Good job, Jeff Sessions! It seems the attorney general’s misguided attempts to revive the unpopular and unjust federal war on marijuana may be having the exact opposite effect — prompting a new bipartisan effort in Congress to allow states to legaliz...
Published: 06/18/18
Updated: 06/21/18
Editorial: A court victory for protecting Florida’s environment

Editorial: A court victory for protecting Florida’s environment

A Tallahassee judge has affirmed the overwhelming intent of Florida voters by ruling that state lawmakers have failed to comply with a constitutional amendment that is supposed to provide a specific pot of money to buy and preserve endangered lands. ...
Published: 06/18/18
Updated: 06/20/18
Editorial: Trump should stop taking children away from parents at the border

Editorial: Trump should stop taking children away from parents at the border

Innocent children should not be used as political pawns. That is exactly what the Trump administration is doing by cruelly prying young children away from their parents as these desperate families cross the Mexican border in search of a safer, better...
Published: 06/17/18
Updated: 06/19/18

Editorial: ATF should get tougher on gun dealers who violate the law

Gun dealers who break the law by turning a blind eye to federal licensing rules are as dangerous to society as people who have no right to a possess a firearm in the first place. Yet a recent report shows that the federal agency responsible for polic...
Published: 06/17/18
Updated: 06/18/18
Editorial: Encouraging private citizens to step up on transit

Editorial: Encouraging private citizens to step up on transit

The new grass-roots effort to put a transportation package before Hillsborough County voters in November faces a tough slog. Voters rejected a similar effort in 2010, and another in 2016 by elected officials never made it from the gate. But the lates...
Published: 06/15/18