West Virginia Democratic Sen. Joe Manchin is no partisan. But even he is calling out the GOP's attacks on the FBI as "asinine" and reckless.
The coordinated effort by the White House and Republicans in Congress to try to destroy special counsel Robert Mueller's Russia and obstruction of justice investigations shifts into a dangerous gear this week.
Having typed up a mysterious memo of talking points to smear the FBI, Republicans are now urging Trump to make their report public despite Republican-appointed officials inside law enforcement beseeching the White House to not release the dubious, unchecked, and inaccurate report.
They're also concerned the report will set a dangerous precedent and compromise longtime intelligence sources, making it more difficult for agents to gather information worldwide.
"That is the absolute asinine thing," Sen. Joe Manchin (D-WV) said on CNN Wednesday morning, as he passionately detailed the reckless behavior of House Intelligence chairman Devin Nunes (R-CA), who concocted the anti-FBI report, and likely did so in close coordination with the White House.
"What Devin Nunes has done to the Intelligence Committee in the House he has neutered it," said Manchin. "They do no have any confidence at all in what he does."
Manchin is not a partisan warrior. In fact, he spent part of his Wednesday interview on CNN chiding Democrats for not showing sufficient "respect" for Trump during the State of the Union address. Manchin is up for re-election in the overwhelmingly Republican state of West Virginia.
But even Machin is calling out the GOP's FBI charade as "asinine" and angrily denouncing the coordinated smear campaign as a "scam."
"Why is he doing this?" Manchin asked of Nunes. "It doesn't help the president. It doesnt help our country. It doesn't help the administration. It doesn't do anything but create more cloud and doubt. I have no clue."
Others do have a clue.
Indeed, what's unfolding is a synchronized effort to both undermine Mueller's investigation and to give the White House an excuse to soon argue why Trump should not have to answer questions about Mueller's probes. Trump's team will likely insist that the investigations are tainted, and use the dubious GOP memo as the basis for the complaint.
Mueller has already won guilty pleas from two former key Trump aides, while another awaits trial.
The White House had been playing coy about the memo, suggesting Trump hadn't read it yet or made any decision about its final release. But following the State of the Union address, Trump blurted out on camera that "100 percent" he was going to release the anti-FBI documents, confirming once again that the entire charade represents a long-planned strategy to try to save his presidency.
The Nunes push intensifies one week after many of the same GOP players pushed the comical claim that there was a "secret society" operating within the FBI, plotting Trump's political demise.
That GOP caper ended in laughter. This one might not.