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The release of the memo mattered less than #releasethememo.

After weeks of buildup, the three-and-a-half-page document about alleged F.B.I. abuses during the 2016 presidential campaign made public on Friday was broadly greeted with criticism, including by some Republicans. They said it cherry-picked information, made false assertions and was overly focused on an obscure, low-level Trump campaign adviser, Carter Page.

It didn’t live up to the hype.

But the campaign, captured in the hashtag #releasethememo, which was trending on Twitter for days, may have a far more significant impact than the memo’s contents. It was a choreographed effort by House Republicans and top White House officials to push a highly contentious theme — that the F.B.I. and the Justice Department abused their powers to spy on the Trump campaign, and relied on dodgy information from a former British spy paid by Democratic operatives.

What began as an ember more than two weeks ago was fanned into a blaze by conservative media titans, presidential tweets and Republican lawmakers urging people to use social media to pressure Congress to make the memo’s contents public. “I invite everybody to use the hashtag #releasethememo,” Representative Raúl Labrador, the Idaho Republican, said on Fox News during the campaign’s infancy, adding that Americans would be “shocked” when the memo was released.

How Trump’s Allies Fanned an Ember of Controversy Into Flames of Outrage

A memo by House Republicans didn’t live up to its billing, but the tactics used to stoke doubts about law enforcement could have a lingering impact on the Russia investigation.


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