- House Intelligence Committee Republicans have voted to release a controversial secret memo that accuses the Department of Justice and the FBI of improper spying amid the Russia investigation.
- The memo alleges that officials at the DOJ and the FBI did not disclose that the Russia dossier that was used to obtain a FISA court warrant to spy on a former Trump campaign adviser had been partially funded by a lawyer linked to Hillary Clinton’s 2016 campaign.
- The DOJ previously warned that releasing the classified memo would be “extraordinarily reckless,” while the White House indicated that it wanted the document to be made public.
House Intelligence Committee Republicans have voted to release a controversial secret memo that accuses the Department of Justice and the FBI of improper spying amid the Russia investigation.
The memo points to a Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court warrant obtained for surveillance against the former Trump campaign adviser Carter Page. Republicans on the House Intelligence Committee allege that FBI and DOJ officials failed to disclose that the Russia dossier used to obtain that warrant was partially funded by a lawyer linked to Hillary Clinton’s 2016 presidential campaign.
Broadly, the vote indicates that Republicans on the committee view the use of the dossier to dig deeper into Page as evidence of bias against President Donald Trump.
Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein, who was appointed by Trump, later authorized further surveillance of Page.
Trump has five days to decide whether to make the memo public. The Justice Department has said such a move would be “extraordinarily reckless.”
Privately, Trump has been fuming over the Justice Department’s opposition to releasing the memo, according to an administration official not authorized to discuss private conversations and speaking on condition of anonymity.
At the behest of Trump, the White House chief of staff John Kelly and other White House officials have been in contact with Justice Department officials in the past week to convey the president’s displeasure with the department’s leadership on the issue specifically, the official said. In a series of calls last week, Kelly urged the officials to do more within the bounds of the law to get the memo out, the official said.
In the hours before Monday’s vote, the White House press secretary, Sarah Huckabee Sanders, underscored the administration’s position, saying Trump favored “full transparency.”
The panel could release the information five days after the vote if Trump doesn’t object.
Democrats are livid about the memo, which they say omits crucial facts and should not be selectively released. They have pushed back on Republican criticism of the FBI, saying it is an attempt to discredit the special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation into Russian meddling in the 2016 election and whether Trump’s campaign was involved. The investigation has already resulted in charges against four of Trump’s former campaign advisers and has recently moved closer to Trump’s inner circle.
The top Democrat on the House intelligence committee, Rep. Adam Schiff of California, said last week that Democrats on the panel had put together their own memo.
On Monday, the committee voted to make the Democratic memo available to all House members – but not the public. Rep. Mike Conaway of Texas, who’s leading the House’s Russia investigation, said he was open to making it public after House members had a chance to review it.
Assistant Attorney General Stephen Boyd wrote Nunes that given the panel’s role in overseeing the nation’s intelligence community, “you well understand the damaging impact that the release of classified material could have on our national security and our ability to share and receive sensitive information from friendly foreign governments.”
Some senators have expressed concern about the release as well. But John Cornyn of Texas, the No. 2 Senate Republican and a member of that chamber’s intelligence committee, said last week that Nunes and the Justice Department needed to work out their differences. On Sunday, Republican Sens. Susan Collins of Maine and Lindsey Graham of South Carolina said they didn’t think the memo should be released.
“No, I don’t want it released yet,” Graham said on ABC’s “This Week.” ”I don’t. I want somebody who is without a political bias to come in and look at the allegations that I have seen.”
The fate of the memo is the latest flashpoint in the contentious relationship between Trump and the Justice Department.
Trump has frequently raged at the head of the department, Attorney General Jeff Sessions, for recusing himself from the Russia investigation, a move the president believes led to the appointment of Mueller. Trump has bemoaned, both privately and publicly, that Sessions and his department have not shown him the “loyalty” that the former attorneys general Eric Holder and Robert Kennedy showed their presidents.