As lawmakers in Congress awaited a final decision from President Donald Trump to release an intelligence memo written by Republicans about part of the investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 elections, the FBI publicly pushed back on the idea of making that four page GOP missive public, a move that drew fire in return from the Chairman of the House Intelligence Committee.
The FBI went first in the public back and forth, issuing a stern statement that warned against release of the GOP memo in no uncertain terms.
“As expressed during our initial review, we have grave concerns about material omissions of fact that fundamentally impact the memo’s accuracy,” the FBI statement concluded.
That explanation went nowhere with Rep. Devin Nunes (R-CA), who has charged that the FBI is trying to cover up surveillance abuses related to the Russia investigation.
“Having stonewalled Congress' demands for information for nearly a year, it's no surprise to see the FBI and DOJ issue spurious objections to allowing the American people to see information related to surveillance abuses at these agencies,” Nunes said in a written statement.
While the President seemed to indicate after the State of the Union Address that he was ready to release the GOP memo, no time had been set, in what would amount to an extraordinary public divide with his FBI Director.
In Congress, each party took aim at the other.
“The Nunes Memo is a partisan sham cooked up to undermine the FBI, DOJ, and the Mueller probe,” said Sen. Mark Warner (D-VA), the top Democrat on the Senate Intelligence Committee.
“So the FBI is worried about omissions? Ok then–let’s put all the documents out there,” said Rep. Mark Meadows (R-NC). “Tell Americans the full story.”
That kind of partisanship extended to the closed door meeting of the House Intelligence Committee on Monday, where members traded barbs over the course of the probe.
You can read the extended back and forth on the intelligence committee vote here.
It wasn’t immediately clear what would happen if Mr. Trump goes ahead and releases the GOP memo; FBI Director Christopher Wray was allowed to look at it on Sunday, and as the Wednesday press statement indicates, has concerns about the document being made public.