Trump authorizes full release of controversial FBI memo
By Susan McFarland
President Donald Trump meets with North Korean defectors in the Oval Office of the White House Friday. During the meeting, Trump said he authorized the full declassification of a controversial memo detailing allegations of misconduct in the FBI. Photo by Zach Gibson/UPI | License Photo
Feb. 2 (UPI) -- President Donald Trump on Friday authorized the full declassification of a controversial Republican memo -- without redactions --that alleges abuses by U.S. intelligence during the 2016 presidential campaign.
The White House said the president signed off on the release of the memo, making no changes in the document, which he declassified "in full."
From the Oval Office, Trump said the memo revealed political bias at the FBI.
"I think it's a disgrace what's happening in this country. ... When you look at that and see the memo was sent to Congress. A lot of people should be ashamed of themselves and much worse than tha," Trump said. "So I sent it over to Congress, and they will do what they're going to do, whatever they do is fine. It was de-classified. Let's see what happens. A lot of people should be ashamed. Thank you very much."
"The memorandum raises serious concerns about the integrity of decisions made at the highest levels of the Department of Justice and the FBI to use the Government's most intrusive surveillance tools against American citizens," White House press secretary Sarah Sanders said.
"This decision was made with input from the President's national security team-including law enforcement officials and members of the intelligence community, for whom the President has great respect."
The document was sent to the minority and majority members in the House intelligence committee and to House Speaker Paul Ryan's office.
The four-page memo covers 2016 campaign events when the FBI and the Department of Justice went to the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court to get a warrant to monitor Carter Page, who was then a Trump's campaign adviser. Page was suspected of having illegal contacts with Russian operatives.
The memo accuses top law enforcement officials of relying on an unsubstantiated dossier compiled by former British spy Christopher Steele to get a warrant to conduct surveillance of Page. According to the memo, those who certified the application for the warrant were: former FBI Director James Comey; former Deputy Director Andrew McCabe, who recently retired; and Rob Rosenstein, who is overseeing Special Counsel Robert Mueller's investigation.
The release of the memo, which was written at the direction of House intelligence committee Chairman Devin Nunes, has ruffled feathers on Capitol Hill -- with strong objections from Democrats and intelligence officials, including Trump's FBI director, Christopher Wray.
The FBI, in a rare public statement, said this week it had "grave concerns" about the memo's accuracy.
Earlier Friday, Trump criticized leaders in the FBI and Justice Department Friday, saying they are "politicizing" the investigative process to favor Democrats.
Trump made the remarks in a tweet Friday morning.
"The top Leadership and Investigators of the FBI and the Justice Department have politicized the sacred investigative process in favor of Democrats and against Republicans -- something which would have been unthinkable just a short time ago," he tweeted. "Rank & File are great people!"
After his tweet critical of the FBI, Trump also retweeted a post by conservative activist Tom Fitton that criticized 2016 Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton and former President Barack Obama's administration, saying they mislead the court to get a warrant to "spy on the Trump team."
The intelligence committee's ranking Democrat, California Rep. Adam Schiff, has expressed concern that the memo sent to the White House for review is not the same one his panel approved. He also said it presents an unfair picture of the FBI's actions and it could ultimately jeopardize the Justice Department's Russia investigation.
Schiff on Wednesday wrote Nunes a letter charging that "material changes" were made to the memo after the committee voted on it, and the version given to the White House "is not, in fact, the same document."
Nunes' spokesman Jack Langer said the changes were only minor.
Some Democrats have expressed concern that Trump could use the memo to fire Deputy Attorney General Rod Jay Rosenstein, who appointed Mueller to his position -- and then possibly Mueller himself.
At a retreat for Republican lawmakers in West Virginia Thursday, House Speaker Paul Ryan said the memo is not politically motivated, and not an indictment of the FBI or the Department of Justice.
Ryan said the memo is Congress' legitimate function of oversight to make sure the surveillance act process is being used correctly.