Ready for Republicans to release a controversial GOP intelligence memo, President Donald Trump denounced the leadership of the FBI and Justice Department on Friday, directly accusing them of bias in the investigation into Hillary Clinton’s emails, and the subsequent probe of Russian interference in the 2016 elections.
“The top Leadership and Investigators of the FBI and Justice Department have politicized the sacred investigative process in favor of Democrats and against Republicans,” the President said in the first of a pair of morning tweets.
Mr. Trump’s second tweet on Friday distilled the argument that’s increasingly been made by GOP lawmakers about the Special Counsel’s probe into any links between Russia and the Trump campaign, taking aim at the dossier compiled by Christopher Steele, a former British intelligence operative.
The criticism – and the move to release the GOP memo, despite opposition from FBI Director Christopher Wray, represented maybe the biggest public schism between a President and his own Justice Department since the Saturday Night Massacre involving Watergate and President Nixon.
On Twitter, Democrats fired right back at Mr. Trump, accusing him of doing his best to undermine the Russia investigation, which is being led by former FBI Director Robert Mueller.
“No, Mr. President it's worse than that,” said Rep. Adam Schiff (D-CA), the top Democrat on the House Intelligence Committee. “The country's top elected leader has agreed to selectively and misleadingly release classified info to attack the FBI.”
“None of this is normal,” said Sen. Mark Warner (D-VA), the top Democrat on the Senate Intelligence Committee.
As the sun rose on Friday, it stil wasn’t clear what was in the GOP memo – the indications seemed to be that it would raise questions about the investigation of a foreign policy adviser to the Trump campaign named Carter Page.
Even before Page garnered scrutiny for a July 2016 trip to Moscow, the FBI had investigated him in 2013 and 2014. News reports said there was concern that Page was a Russian agent.
In testimony to the House Intelligence Committee last year, Page said he was wrongly subjected to surveillance in 2016, mainly because his name was mentioned in the Steele Dossier.