A US congressional committee has released a memo claiming anti-Trump bias at the FBI. The FBI and Democratic lawmakers had warned the president against declassifying the Republican-authored memo.
US President Donald Trump on Friday approved the release of a classified memo created by a Republican on the House Intelligence Committee.
According to some Republican lawmakers, the memo shows anti-Trump bias at the US Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) and Justice Department.
What we know:
- The four-page memo was authored by Republicans on the House Intelligence Committee based on classified information.
- The memo says its findings “represent a troubling breakdown of legal processes established to protect the American people from abuses related to the [Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act] (FISA).”
- It alleges that the FBI abused government surveillance powers to conduct part of its probe into Russia’s meddling in the 2016 presidential election.
- According to the memo, the controversial Steele dossier formed “an essential part” of the FBI’s request to eavesdrop on Trump campaign aide Carter Page without pointing out that the campaign of Trump’s election rival, Hillary Clinton, contributed funding to pay Steele.
- The FBI, Justice Department and Democratic lawmakers had warned the White House against declassifying the memo, saying omissions to the memo could mislead the public and undermine national security.
What they said:
After authorizing the memo’s publication, Trump said: “I think it’s a disgrace what’s going on in this country … A lot of people should be ashamed of themselves, and much worse than that,” an apparent reference to senior FBI officials.
Earlier this week, the FBI warned against releasing the memo, saying: “As expressed during our initial review, we have grave concerns about material omissions of fact that fundamentally impact the memo’s accuracy.”
The Democratic lawmakers on the House Intelligence Committee said the release of the memo “will do long-term damage to the intelligence community and our law enforcement agencies.” It dismissed claims that the FBI and Justice Department misled the FISA court to snoop on Page. Other Democrats said using the memo as grounds to fire the head of the Russia probe, Robert Mueller, could trigger a “constitutional crisis.”
Christopher Wray, the current FBI director, said in a statement to the agency’s employees: “I stand by our shared determination to do our work independently and by the book. Talk is cheap. The work you do will endure.”
The FBI Agents Association President Thomas O’Connor said the bureau “will not allow partisan politics to distract” from its mission. “The American people should know that they continue to be well-served by the world’s pre-eminent law enforcement agency.”
Former FBI Director James Comey, who was fired by Trump last year, responded to the memo’s release on Twitter, writing: “That’s it?” He also called the memo “dishonest and misleading.”
Why is the memo controversial: The memo alleges that the FBI used a dossier partially paid for by the Democratic National Committee to gain greater access to the Trump campaign in their probe into Russian election meddling.
What happens next: The Democratic panel on the House Intelligence Committee has said they’re hoping to release their own memo by Monday.
rs, ls/cmk (Reuters, AP)