Donald Trump told a Republican congressman after Tuesday night’s State of the Union speech that he is ‘100 per cent ‘ in favor of releasing a controversial intelligence memo tied to a congressional investigation about Russia’s impact on the 2016 election.
The classified memo has generated open rhetorical warfare between Republicans on the House Intelligence Committee and career officials at the FBI and Justice Department.
‘Let’s release the memo,’ South Carolina Rep. Jeff Duncan told Trump on his way out of the House chamber, in video footage captured by C-SPAN.
‘Oh, yeah. Don’t worry. One hundred per cent,’ Trump replied.
President Donald Trump told South Carolina Republican Rep. Jeff Duncan on Tuesday night that he would ‘100 per cent’ release a controversial classified intelligence memo that Republicans want the public to see
‘Oh, yeah. Don’t worry,’ Trump told Duncan on his way out of the House chamber following his State of the Union address
Republican House Intelligence Committee Chairman Devin Nunes got a party-line victory in his ‘release the memo’ campaign, while ranking Democrat Adam Schiff (right) is trying to win public release for his countervailing memo
‘Can you imagine that?’ the president added, seeming to hint at a scenario where he would keep the memo secret.
‘You’d be too angry.’
Trump has until Saturday to decide whether to block the memo’s public release after the Intelligence Committee voted along party lines to release it to the public.
The White House has pledged to conduct a legal and national security review before making a decision.
The memo, crafted by aides to Republican committee chair Devin Nunes of California, reportedly shows that the FBI and DOJ improperly applied for wirtap warrants covering at least one member of the Trump campaign team
The warrant applications to a Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act judge are thought to have been in part based on a notorious and uncorroborated anti-Trump ‘dirty dossier’ paid for by the Hillary Clinton campaign and the Democratic National Committee.
The dossier, compile by a former British spy, contained salacious and unproven claims, including one about Trump cavorting with prostitutes in a Moscow hotel and indulging in a ‘golden showers’ urine fetish.
Duncan, a conservative Republican, has come out in favor of releasing the memo in recent weeks
All members of Congress have been able to see the memo in a secure facility at the U.S. Capitol. A Democratic memo offered in rebuttal could be released publicly, but only after the entire House of Representatives has a similar opportunity to review it.
The White House said Monday that Trump had not decided whether to authorize the release of the memo, but said he favored ‘full transparency.’
Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders said ‘no one’ at the White House had seen it yet, however.
A number of conservatives favor releasing the memo, which they believe could discredit the findings of the investigation into ties between the Trump campaign and Russian officials.
White House aides have previously said Trump favored releasing the document, which is in contrast to the stance of the Justice Department.
The New York Times reports that Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein approved a request last spring for extended surveillance on Carter Page, an unpaid foreign policy adviser to Trump’s presidential campaign.
The memo is expected to spell out how Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein approved a request last spring for extended surveillance on Carter Page (pictured), an unpaid foreign policy adviser to Trump’s presidential campaign
Republicans appear poised to argue that Rosenstein did not thoroughly review the application to a FISA court.
Page is under scrutiny for a 2016 trip he made to Moscow where he met with Russian officials, but insists that he made it clear he was not representing the presidential candidate.
A report he provided to the campaign afterward with his insights and an offer to set up a trip to Russia for Trump has made him a person of interest in investigations into alleged collusion, however.
Republicans have been teeing up their memo as a bombshell that will justify demands for an independent investigation of the DOJ and FBI, which had been conducting the Russia probe until Rosenstein hired Robert Mueller to serve as special counsel in the matter.
The Rosenstein-approved FISA court warrant application is thought to have relied at least in part on the ‘dirty dossier’ funded by Democrats against Trump in 2016
Rep. Adam Schiff, the ranking Democrat on the committee, said last week that the GOP members had ‘selectively and misleadingly’ characterized classified information ‘in an effort to protect the president at any cost.’
In a Sunday morning appearance on CBS, White House Legislative Affairs Director Marc Short suggested Trump would lean toward releasing the four-page document.
‘We haven’t obviously read the memo. It’s classified. So it’s hard for me to speculate on what’s in the memo,’ he said.
‘I do think that we typically prefer transparency. And so if there are concerns that I think it would be helpful for Americans to know about, we would be open for that being released.’
Republican Sen. Susan Collins said Sunday that she was concerned that classified information would be compromised, however.
‘That’s a really serious matter. So, to me, the preferable way to handle the allegations of wrongdoing by certain FBI agents and a lawyer there is to leave it in the hands of the inspector general,’ she told CNN.