US President Donald Trump on Friday authorised the release of a controversial Republican memo alleging intelligence abuses, hours after he accused the Justice Department and the FBI of a “pro-Democrat bias”, saying they had “politicised” the probe against Republicans.
“I think it’s terrible, if you want to know the truth. I think it’s a disgrace what’s going on in this country. I think it’s a disgrace,” Trump said after he approved the release.
“The memo was sent to Congress. It was declassified. Congress will do whatever they’re going to do. But I think it’s a disgrace what’s happening in our country. And when you look at that, and you see that and so many other things what’s going on, a lot of people should be ashamed of themselves and much worse than that,” Trump told reporters. “So I sent it over to Congress. They will do what they’re going to do. Whatever they do is fine. It was declassified. And let’s see what happens,” he said.
White House spokesman Raj Shah said the document has been transmitted to the minority and majority members in the House Intelligence Committee. The document was also sent to House Speaker Paul Ryan’s office, he said. The White House has requested no redactions, Shah said, according to CNN.
The extraordinary decision to release the classified four-page memo with a never-before-used House Intelligence Committee rule would escalate the partisan fight over the investigations into Russian meddling and possible collusion in the 2016 US presidential election. This will likely have major repercussions for the relationship between the justice department and Capitol Hill. The memo’s release would also threaten to further fracture the frayed relationship between the president and his justice department and intelligence community, both of which opposed the release of the document, which is based on classified intelligence.
The FBI issued a rare public warning on Wednesday that the memo omits key information that could impact its veracity. The memo, spearheaded by House Intelligence Chairman Devin Nunes, alleges that the FBI used the opposition research dossier on Trump and Russia written by ex-British intelligence agent Christopher Steele to secure a FISA surveillance warrant on former Trump foreign policy adviser Carter Page without disclosing that the dossier was funded in part by Democratic sources.
In a statement earlier this week, Nunes said, “It’s clear that top officials used unverified information in a court document to fuel a counter-intelligence investigation during an American political campaign.” The memo alleges FBI abused its surveillance tools during its probe into the alleged Russian collusion in the election.
Trump’s accusation is a rarest of the rare instance as it maligns people he appointed to their roles, including FBI Director Christopher Wray whom he nominated after firing former FBI Director James Comey in May. “The top leadership and investigators of the FBI and the justice department have politicised the sacred investigative process in favour of Democrats and against Republicans -something which would have been unthinkable just a short time ago,” Trump said in a tweet. “Rank and File are great people!” he added.
The tweet also puts Trump squarely on the side of the Republican lawmakers who view the memo as a document that exposes the nefarious designs of the FBI.
In a follow-up tweet, Trump quoted from a recent speech given by American activist and president of conservative watchdog operation Judicial Watch Tom Fitton in which he alleged the Democrats attempted to conceal their funding of a dossier that accused Trump of personal ties to the Kremlin.
“‘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’,” Trump wrote.