WASHINGTON (CBSMiami/CNN) — President Donald Trump authorized the release of a controversial Republican memo and has sent word to the House Intelligence Committee that the document may be made public, a White House official said.
There were no White House-initiated redactions to the memo, according to a House aide.
The highly controversial Republican memo alleges the FBI abused its surveillance tools, claiming the government agencies “politicized the sacred investigative process in favor of Democrats and against Republicans.”
Former U.S. Attorney David Weinstein talks to CBS4’s Eliott Rodriguez about Republican lawmakers releasing a memo they wrote alleging surveillance abuses at the FBI.
Trump, by accusing the leadership of having a bias against Republicans, is once again maligning people he appointed to their roles, including FBI Director Christopher Wray, a man Trump nominated after he fired former FBI Director James Comey in May.
“By releasing this memo, the President of the United States is undermining the credibility of our intelligence community and serving a huge victory to Vladimir Putin, the Russian government, and many other intelligence services,” said Sen. Bill Nelson in a statement.
Former U.S. Attorney Guy Lewis talks to #CBS4’s Eliott Rodriguez and Rudabeh Shahbazi about Republican lawmakers releasing a memo they wrote alleging surveillance abuses at the FBI.
“This is a deliberate and desperate effort by Donald Trump and the Republicans to undermine Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation of Russia’s interference with our election and possible obstruction of justice by White House officials. Not only has the FBI expressed grave concerns about the memo’s accuracy, but Justice Department officials believe its release endangers our national security,” said Rep. Lois Frankel in a statement.
The release of the memo, which was penned by House Intelligence Chairman Devin Nunes, will put Trump squarely on the side of Republican lawmakers who view it as a document that shows evidence of nefarious motives atop the FBI.
The top Leadership and Investigators of the FBI and the Justice Department have politicized the sacred investigative process in favor of Democrats and against Republicans – something which would have been unthinkable just a short time ago. Rank & File are great people!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) February 2, 2018
Florida Congresswoman Ileana Ros-Lehtinen sits on House Intelligence Committee and voted to release the memo.
“I support making the memo public,” she said. “This information should not impede the completion of the critical work of the Special Counsel probe, which I fully support, but it is important information that we are disclosing.”
Fellow Republican Congressman Mario Diaz-Balart also applauded the memo’s release.
“The release of the HPSCI memo today was important for greater transparency and oversight, serving the public interest. FISA collections are part of a uniquely critical program that supports global US national security. The recently passed and signed FISA Amendments Reauthorization Act will help provide some additional important oversight of this program, to prevent abuse and violation of American citizens’ civil liberties,” Diaz-Balart said in a statement.
The fight over the memo has put the President at odds with his top law enforcement officials, who urged the White House not to authorize its release.
Trump reviewed the memo on Wednesday, White House officials told CNN, and discussed it with his chief of staff, John Kelly, and the White House counsel’s office.
In recent phone calls, Trump told friends he believes the memo would expose bias within the FBI’s top ranks and make it easier for him to argue the Russia investigations — primarily the inquiry led by special counsel Robert Mueller — are prejudiced against him, according to two sources.
The memo is expected to accuse the Department of Justice and FBI of abusing the FISA surveillance program during the 2016 campaign, including how they used material from the unverified dossier written by Christopher Steele, a former British intelligence officer, as part of their application to secure court approval of surveillance of Carter Page, a Trump campaign foreign policy adviser.
“You had Hillary Clinton and the Democratic Party try to hide the fact that they gave money to GPS Fusion to create a Dossier which was used by their allies in the Obama Administration to convince a Court misleadingly, by all accounts, to spy on the Trump Team.” Tom Fitton, JW
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) February 2, 2018
CNN previously reported in April that the FBI used part of the dossier to win approval to secretly monitor Page.
Republicans have already begun using the Nunes memo to discredit Mueller’s investigation into potential Trump campaign connections to Russian meddling in the 2016 election.
Democrats have claimed that the document is nothing more than an attempt to undercut Mueller’s investigation.
“There’s no evidence of a corrupt evidence to obtain warrants against people in the Trump campaign,” Rep. Adam Schiff, the ranking Democrat on the House Intelligence Committee, said Friday. “That’s been the President’s narrative, but there’s no evidence of that.”
(© Copyright 2018 CBS Broadcasting Inc. Cable News Network, Inc., a Time Warner Company, contributed to this report)