Rep. Elise Stefanik, our congresswoman, said nothing.She participated in no debate.
She expressed no concerns.
Her only utterances were to vote four times in the 60-minute meeting of the House Committee on Intelligence last Monday.
The 51-page transcript of that meeting is an extraordinary document where several committee members expressed passionate concern about the politicization of the committee and the harm it could do, and maybe more importantly, that only two members of the committee had even reviewed the “underlying intelligence” on which the memo was based.
Rep. Stefanik’s was not one of them.
“It is essentially releasing to the public a book review on a book it has not read,” said Rep. Eric Swalwell, a Democrat from California.
“I truly believe this is a step too far,” said Rep. Jackie Speier, a Democrat from California. “How irresponsible is it for us to vote to make public something that we have not even viewed ourselves. And we are all going to have egg on our face.”
It is clear to me that the memo’s release has furthered divided our country and weakened our democracy, and not surprisingly made our representatives and their motives more suspect.
Rep. Stefanik is complicit in this.
Others in that meeting seemed to understand that.
Some knew the door they were opening was a bad idea. Sadly, the Republicans on the committee stayed mostly silent.
“When all of this information is made available there will be an accounting for all of us based on what is true,” said Rep. Jim Himes, a Democrat from Connecticut. “If it turns out that the majority memo is wrong, there will be hell to pay. If it turns out that the minority memo is wrong, there will be hell to pay. And right now there are two people sitting here who have any sense at all over whether it is right or wrong.”
“And so I guess there is no way around politicizing this,” said Rep. Teri Sewell of Alabama. “It just reeks and smacks of politics. And if that is really where we have come, then it is a sad day to be on this committee. and I never thought I would say that, since I thought this committee was the committee that really took serious our national security and people put their own views and their own party’s interests aside and tried to do what is in the best interests of all of us.”
When I reached out to Rep. Stefanik’s office, I was told she voted to release the memo because she “Is a strong proponent of transparency,” despite the fact she voted against releasing the Democratic response at the same time as the Republican memo. I was also told she “believes the public has a right to know about potential FISA abuses.”
When I asked if Rep Stefanik had read the underlying evidence the memo is based on, Tom Flanagan, Stefanik’s senior adviser and communications director, wrote, “Again, no one, including the FBI, has identified factual errors.”
I also asked him if Rep Stefanik had 100 percent confidence in the memo, and while he did not answer that question directly, he did write that she participated in weekly briefs on the results of these investigative efforts.
In response to the release of the memo, Sen. John McCain had this to say:
“The latest attacks on the FBI and the Department of Justice serve no American interests, no party’s, no presidents, only Putin’s,” Sen. McCain wrote in a statement. “Our nation’s elected officials, including the president, must stop looking at this investigation through the warped lens of politics and manufacturing partisan sideshows. If we continue to undermine our own rule of law, we are doing Putin’s job for him.”
Rep. Stefanik had every opportunity during the 60-minute meeting of the House Committee on Intelligence to voice her concerns about the politicization of the committee’s work. Instead, she remained silent.
And when her name was called on whether to release the Republican memo to the public, she responded, “Aye.”
Ken Tingley is editor of The Post-Star and may be reached via email at email@example.com.