×

WH reviewing classified GOP memo attacking FBI, DoJ

  • Speaker of the House Paul Ryan, R-Wis., answers questions at a news conference at the Capitol in Washington, Tuesday. ap photo

  • House Intelligence Committee Chairman Devin Nunes, R-Calif., a close ally of President Donald Trump who has become a fierce critic of the FBI and the Justice Department, strides to a GOP conference at the Capitol in Washington, Tuesday, Jan. 30, 2018. House Speaker Paul Ryan is defending a vote by Republicans on the House intelligence committee to release a classified memo on the Russia investigation. (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite) J. Scott Applewhite

  • Speaker of the House Paul Ryan, R-Wis., confers with Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy, R-Calif., right, during a news conference at the Capitol in Washington, Tuesday, Jan. 30, 2018. (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite) J. Scott Applewhite

  • Rep. Adam Schiff, D- Calif., center, ranking member of the House Intelligence Committee, walks back to the meeting room after speaking to members of the media, Monday, Jan. 29, 2018 on Capitol Hill in Washington. Also with Schiff are Rep. Terri Sewell, D-Ala., left, and Rep. Andre Carson, D-Ind. Brushing aside opposition from the Department of Justice, Republicans on the House intelligence committee have voted to release a classified memo that purports to show improper use of surveillance by the FBI and Justice Department in the Russia investigation.(AP Photo/Pablo Martinez Monsivais) Pablo Martinez Monsivais



Associated Press
Tuesday, January 30, 2018

WASHINGTON — The White House said Tuesday it will conduct a legal and national security review before President Donald Trump decides whether to release a classified memo on the Russia investigation that has sparked a political fight pitting Republicans against the FBI and the Department of Justice.

Trump has five days to object to the release of the memo, though he has signaled he wants it made public. The memo arrived at the White House on Monday evening after Republicans on the House intelligence committee brushed aside opposition from the Justice Department and voted to release it.

The four-page memo was written by Republicans on the committee, led by chairman Rep. Devin Nunes of California, a close Trump ally who has become a fierce critic of the FBI and the Justice Department.

Republicans have said the memo reveals improper use of surveillance by the FBI and the Justice Department in the Russia investigation. Democrats have called it a selectively edited group of GOP talking points that attempt to distract from the committee’s own investigation into Russian meddling.

On Tuesday, House Speaker Paul Ryan said he supports the memo’s release but doesn’t want Republicans to use it to attack special counsel Robert Mueller, who is investigating Russian meddling in the 2016 election and whether Trump’s campaign was involved.

“This is a completely separate matter from Bob Mueller’s investigation and his investigation should be allowed to take its course,” Ryan said, noting that he also supports Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein who oversees Mueller.

Ryan said the memo shows “there may have been malfeasance at the FBI by certain individuals.” He did not provide additional details, only saying that “there are legitimate questions about whether an American’s civil liberties were violated by the FISA process,” a reference to the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act.

It’s unclear how FBI malfeasance could have solely resulted in a judge signing off on a FISA warrant. Applications for such warrants are submitted by Justice Department lawyers before a judge of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court. Those lawyers would have to authorize and ultimately prepare any filing that is made.

Ryan’s comments came after House Democratic leader Nancy Pelosi said late Monday on CNN that Ryan is allowing the release of a “false memo based on a false premise.”

The vote to release the memo is an unprecedented move by the committee, which typically goes out of its way to protect classified information in the interest of protecting intelligence sources and methods.

On Tuesday, White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders pushed back on reports that the release was imminent, saying the White House has no “current plans” to do so. But Trump has made clear to aides that he favors transparency.

A senior White House official said the National Security Council is leading an interagency review of the memo. If Trump decides to release the memo, it could be made public as early as Wednesday afternoon, said the official who spoke on condition of anonymity to discuss confidential internal deliberations.

So far, the official said, the Justice Department is the only agency opposing its release. Asked Tuesday about the department’s position on the memo’s release, Justice Department spokeswoman Sarah Isgur Flores declined comment.

But Rep. Adam Schiff of California, the ranking Democrat on the committee, said the memo’s release could compromise intelligence sources and methods.

The Justice Department said in a letter last week that it would be “extraordinarily reckless” to release the memo without first giving the FBI and the department the chance to review it.

After those complaints, FBI Director Christopher Wray reviewed the memo over the weekend.

Rep. Trey Gowdy, R-S.C., who was with Wray when he reviewed the memo, said the FBI director did not raise any national security concerns with him.