The Republicans’ Real Fake Scandal

The Republicans’ Real Fake Scandal

He added that neither Mr. Nunes nor most of the committee members had even seen the highly classified materials on which the memo appears to be based — and the release of which could be damaging to national security.

Democrats have called the memo “profoundly misleading” and have said its factual allegations are taken out of context. They have prepared their own classified memo addressing the origins of the warrant, which they say was properly sought and approved.

But even if Mr. Nunes’s memo never sees the light of day, it has done its job — spawning a new wave of conspiracy theories as well as suspiciously timed calls to #ReleasetheMemo amplified across social media, many coming from what a German Marshall Fund tracking project found to be part of Russian-linked influence networks.

Mr. Nunes is not alone in trying to change the subject to anything other than Mr. Trump and the Russians. Thanks to some intrepid Republicans in Congress, America learned last week that the F.B.I. is harboring a “secret society” dedicated to destroying Mr. Trump. The proof? A text message using that phrase that was sent between Peter Strzok and Lisa Page, F.B.I. employees who worked on the Russia investigation and who, like roughly 65 million other Americans, expressed horror at the thought of Mr. Trump becoming president. On Tuesday, Senator Ron Johnson, a Wisconsin Republican, said the society’s existence was corroborated by an “informant” — by which he probably meant his Twitter feed. On Thursday, he admitted what reasonable people everywhere had already surmised — that the reference to a “secret society,” in the context of the full message, was a joke.

Putting aside the irony of members of the law-and-order party delusionally attacking America’s law enforcement community, Mr. Nunes and his ilk are causing real and possibly lasting damage for nothing more than a short-term political win.

It must be frustrating to be a Republican in Congress these days. For years, the G.O.P. has been flogging supposed conspiracies and scandals, from Benghazi to Hillary Clinton’s email server to systemic corruption at the highest levels of the nation’s law enforcement community. Now, at last, a real conspiracy comes along, setting off an actual federal investigation by veteran law enforcement officials and leading to multiple indictments and guilty pleas — and it’s aimed at their own man.

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