Memo doesn't clear Trump in probe
Democratic and Republican lawmakers said Sunday that a GOP-produced congressional memo on FBI surveillance powers did not clear President Donald Trump in the Russia investigation, and they expressed hope that special counsel Robert Mueller's work would continue without interference.
The top Democrat on the Republican-led House Intelligence Committee that released the memo called it "a political hit job" and questioned whether GOP Representative. Devin Nunes, the committee chairman, had coordinated with the White House in drafting it.
"The goal here is to undermine the FBI, discredit the FBI, discredit the Mueller investigation, do the president's bidding," said Representative. Adam Schiff, D-California Schiff said he raised motions to have the committee question the FBI first and review the full supporting material before releasing the memo, but was "voted down" by Nunes and other GOP committee members.
"I think it's very possible his staff worked with the White House," he said.
Nunes has for months faced criticism about his close ties to the White House. He had previously apologised for sharing with the White House secret intelligence intercepts related to a probe of Russian election interference before talking to committee members. When asked during a committee meeting in late January whether he had coordinated the memo with the White House, he at first said "as far as I know, no," then refused to answer when asked whether his staff members had communicated with the White House.
The memo, released on Friday, alleges misconduct on the part of the FBI and the Justice Department in obtaining a warrant under the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act to monitor former Trump campaign foreign policy adviser Carter Page and his ties to Russia. Specifically, it takes aim at the FBI's use of information from former British spy Christopher Steele, who compiled a dossier containing allegations of ties between Trump, his associates and Russia.
Representative Chris Stewart, R-Utah, said the memo doesn't end the need for the Mueller investigation.
"I think it would be a mistake for anyone to suggest that the special counsel shouldn't complete his work. I support his work. I want him to finish it. I hope he finishes it as quickly as possible. This memo has frankly nothing at all to do with the special counsel," said Stewart, a member of the House Intelligence Committee.
Denying a political motive, Republican committee members defended the release of the GOP memo as appropriate. Saying it did not vindicate Trump, as the president asserted Saturday, they signalled the possible release of Democrats' dissenting memo in the coming weeks and said the GOP memo would have no impact on Mueller's ongoing probe.