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In Service of Trump

While McCain and Flake criticize the release of Nunes memo, McSally is delighted by White House action

There are a few schools of thought when it comes to the memo that California Congressman Devin Nunes concocted to discredit the FBI's investigation into how the Russian government aided President Donald Trump's 2016 campaign.

You can see the memo, as Trump himself tweeted, as something that "totally vindicates 'Trump' in probe." We'd say that hot take is a radical interpretation of the memo (and that "vindicates" should be in quotes rather than "Trump" in that tweet).

You can see the memo as the breaking of yet another norm in Washington: Using a cherry-picked collection of facts to present a false and misleading picture of why the Russia probe was launched in the first place, as most congressional Democrats have suggested.

You can see it—as many former intelligence agents have argued—as a bad precedent that will undermine trust between Congress and intelligence agencies, who have generally depended on members of Congress to rise above politics when dealing with sensitive and classified matters of national security.

You can see it as a partisan attack on the FBI and the Department of Justice that benefits Putin, as Sen. John McCain said in a prepared statement: "The latest attacks on the FBI and Department of Justice serve no American interests—no party's, no president's, only Putin's. The American people deserve to know all of the facts surrounding Russia's ongoing efforts to subvert our democracy, which is why Special Counsel Mueller's investigation must proceed unimpeded. 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."

You can see the memo's release as a reckless move that endangered national security, as Sen. Jeff Flake said: "The president's apparent willingness to release this memo risks undermining U.S. intelligence-gathering efforts, politicizing Congress' oversight role, and eroding confidence in our institutions of government."

Or you could cheer it on as "sweet revenge," as Donald Jr. told Fox News.

But Congresswoman Martha McSally, who has gone full Trump since announcing her Senate run, is comfortably perched in the "cheering on" section. McSally wasn't quite as bad as her fellow Arizona Republican Rep. Paul Gosar, who saw the memo as evidence of treason on the part of the Justice Department's Rod Rosenstein, who is overseeing Mueller's Russia probe. (For the record, Gosar's looney treason accusations also included former FBI and Justice Department officials James Comey, Andrew McCabe and Sally Yates.)

But McSally—who has been hugging Trump tighter and tighter since she left behind the competitive Congressional District 2 and launched her run for Flake's Senate seat—was delighted that Trump ignored his own Justice Department and the FBI and released the memo.

"I read this troubling memo weeks ago & fully support its release," McSally tweeted. "The American people deserve transparency. The intel committee went through the proper process to release it w/out jeopardizing national security—other memos undergo the same process."

Well, you have struck a blow for transparency, Martha. It's transparent that if it comes down to a choice between protecting Donald Trump or protecting the institutions of the FBI or the Justice Department, you're with Trump!

Remember when McSally, who swore an oath to protect our nation, was supposed to be the sensible adult in the room who would put national security above politics?

Image Problems

Learn about the dangers of being a photojournalist in Mexico

Being a journalist in Mexico is no day at the beach. You piss off the wrong people and you're beaten or left for dead.

You can learn more about the rough trade next week at a pair of panel discussions with Mexico-based photographers.

Bernandino Hernández, who taught himself photography as an orphan in Acapulco, was recently reminded of the dangers of photographing the carnage in parts of Mexico when he was beaten badly by Guerrero state police, who smashed his camera and told him to stop taking pictures.

Enric Martí now works in Mexico and previously covered wars in Nicaragua and the Middle East.

Both men will talk with UA School of Journalism professor Mort Rosenblum at a pair of panels this week.

"A Lens on Mexico's Mean Streets" is 6 to 7 p.m. Monday, Feb. 12, at MOCA-Tucson, 265 South Church Ave. Admission is free for MOCA members and $10 for non-members. You can catch the panel again from 5:30 to 7 p.m. Tuesday, Feb. 13, at the UA Main Library's Information Commons Room 112A. Admission is free.

The televised edition of Zona Politics with Jim Nintzel airs 6:30 p.m. Fridays on the Creative Tucson network, Cox Channel 20 and Xfinity Channel 74. This week's guests include UA Vice President for Academic Initiatives and Student Success Vincent del Casino Jr., congressional candidate Billy Kovacs, a Democrat seeking the District 2 seat and legislative candidate Hollace Lyon, a Democrat who is seeking the District 11 seat in the Arizona House of Representatives. The TV show repeats Sunday mornings at 9 a.m. and Thursday nights at 6:30 p.m. The radio edition of Zona Politics airs at 5 p.m. Sundays on community radio KXCI, 91.3 FM. This week's radio guests include David Schapira, a Democrat running for state superintendent of public instruction.

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