Arkansas Democrat-Gazette - - IN­TER­NA­TIONAL -

dress. “100 per­cent.”

Dun­can had im­plored Trump to “re­lease the memo.”

Also Tues­day, the In­tel­li­gence Com­mit­tee voted along party lines to make a Demo­crat-drafted memo re­but­ting the GOP’s doc­u­ment avail­able to House mem­bers to read in a se­cure fa­cil­ity, as the panel had done with the GOP memo 11 days ear­lier.

Ryan sug­gested to re­porters that “there may have been malfea­sance at the FBI by cer­tain in­di­vid­u­als,” cit­ing that as one of sev­eral rea­sons Repub­li­cans want “all of this in­for­ma­tion” con­tained in the memo “to come out.”

But he stressed that “the chair­man went to the FBI to make sure we were pro­tect­ing sources and meth­ods,” call­ing it “ironic” that Democrats were com­plain­ing, as “Devin ac­tu­ally made the mo­tion” Mon­day to make the Democrats’ memo avail­able to other House mem­bers.

Democrats have claimed that Nunes with­held the memo from the FBI and the Jus­tice Depart­ment un­til the last minute, re­sist­ing the ad­vice of top of­fi­cials who were warn­ing against mak­ing it public.

The Wash­ing­ton Post re­ported Tues­day even­ing that late Mon­day, Jus­tice Depart­ment of­fi­cials made a last­ditch plea to White House Chief of Staff John Kelly about the dan­gers of pub­licly re­leas­ing a memo al­leg­ing abuses by the FBI.

Shortly be­fore the House In­tel­li­gence Com­mit­tee voted to make the doc­u­ment public, Deputy At­tor­ney Gen­eral Rod Rosen­stein warned Kelly that the four-page memo pre­pared by House Repub­li­cans could jeop­ar­dize clas­si­fied in­for­ma­tion and im­plored the pres­i­dent to re­con­sider his sup­port for mak­ing it public, ac­cord­ing to peo­ple briefed on the meet­ing.

Rosen­stein was joined in the meet­ing at the White House by FBI Di­rec­tor Christo­pher Wray.

Rosen­stein, who is su­per­vis­ing spe­cial coun­sel Robert Mueller’s in­ves­ti­ga­tion into Rus­sia’s in­ter­fer­ence in the elec­tion, said the Depart­ment of Jus­tice was not con­vinced the memo ac­cu­rately de­scribes its in­ves­tiga­tive prac­tices. He said mak­ing the doc­u­ment public could set a dan­ger­ous prece­dent, ac­cord­ing to a per­son fa­mil­iar with the dis­cus­sion.

While Wray also ex­pressed op­po­si­tion to the memo’s re­lease, Rosen­stein did much of the talk­ing, ac­cord­ing to a se­nior U.S. gov­ern­ment of­fi­cial. At­tor­ney Gen­eral Jeff Ses­sions was not present at the meet­ing.

In re­sponse, Kelly told Rosen­stein and Wray that the pres­i­dent was in­clined to re­lease the memo but the White House would go through a re­view led by the Na­tional Se­cu­rity Coun­cil and the White House coun­sel’s of­fice, a se­nior ad­min­is­tra­tion of­fi­cial said. That re­view is ex­pected to take at least sev­eral days, a se­nior White House of­fi­cial said. The As­so­ci­ated Press also re­ported the White House’s plans for a re­view.

Asked Tues­day about the depart­ment’s po­si­tion on the memo’s re­lease, Jus­tice Depart­ment spokesman Sarah Is­gur Flo­res de­clined to com­ment.

Wray has had the op­por­tu­nity to re­view the memo, though it has not been vet­ted by the FBI’s in-house lawyers,

ac­cord­ing to peo­ple fa­mil­iar with the mat­ter.

On Tues­day, White House press sec­re­tary Sarah Huck­abee San­ders pushed back on re­ports that the re­lease was im­mi­nent, say­ing the White House had no “cur­rent plans” to do so.

“The Pres­i­dent has not seen or been briefed on the memo or re­viewed its con­tents,” she said in a state­ment.

The memo deals pri­mar­ily with the role that in­tel­li­gence passed along by Bri­tish ex-spy Christo­pher Steele played in the FBI’s ef­forts to con­duct

sur­veil­lance on Carter Page, a for­mer Trump cam­paign ad­viser, ac­cord­ing to peo­ple fa­mil­iar with the four-page doc­u­ment.

Steele’s work, which was par­tially funded by Hil­lary Clin­ton’s pres­i­den­tial cam­paign and the Demo­cratic Na­tional Com­mit­tee, led to a dossier of al­le­ga­tions of ties be­tween Trump and the Krem­lin. Trump has de­nied the al­le­ga­tions, and Repub­li­cans have sug­gested that Steele pro­vided bad in­for­ma­tion to the FBI — though peo­ple fa­mil­iar with the memo say it does not con­clu­sively

say whether Steele in­ten­tion­ally passed along sus­pect in­for­ma­tion.


Sev­eral Repub­li­cans and con­ser­va­tive pun­dits have seized on the memo as a rea­son to ques­tion the un­der­pin­nings and le­git­i­macy of Mueller’s on­go­ing probe of al­leged con­nec­tions be­tween the Trump cam­paign and Rus­sian of­fi­cials. But on Tues­day, Ryan firmly warned peo­ple against draw­ing such links.

“This is a com­pletely sep­a­rate mat­ter from Bob Mueller’s

in­ves­ti­ga­tion, and his in­ves­ti­ga­tion should be al­lowed to con­tinue,” Ryan said, adding that the “in­sti­tu­tion” of the FBI and Jus­tice Depart­ment is “very im­por­tant for Amer­i­can life.”

Rev­e­la­tions last week that Trump sought to or­der Mueller’s fir­ing in June have raised new con­cerns that the pres­i­dent may try to oust the spe­cial coun­sel or Rosen­stein, who over­sees the in­ves­ti­ga­tion. Democrats have been clam­or­ing since to pass leg­is­la­tion to pro­tect Mueller, by giv­ing a panel of three fed­eral judges the power to re­view any pres­i­den­tial or­der to fire a spe­cial coun­sel.

Repub­li­can lead­ers have re­jected Democrats’ con­cerns, as well as their calls for leg­isla­tive steps to pro­tect Mueller.

“My un­der­stand­ing is there’s no ef­fort un­der­way to un­der­mine or to re­move the spe­cial coun­sel. There­fore, I don’t see any need to bring up leg­is­la­tion to pro­tect some­one who ap­pears to need no pro­tec­tion,” Se­nate Ma­jor­ity Leader Mitch McCon­nell, R-Ky., said Tues­day.

Ryan said that calls for Rosen­stein to step down also were mis­placed.

“I think Rod Rosen­stein’s do­ing a fine job. I have no rea­son to see why he should do that,” Ryan said, not­ing that Rosen­stein “came in af­ter this last elec­tion.”

Democrats, how­ever, say the GOP’s memo cam­paign is com­pro­mis­ing the in­tegrity of key law en­force­ment agen­cies in po­lit­i­cal def­er­ence to Trump, at a time when they need to be es­pe­cially vig­i­lant against po­ten­tial threats from Rus­sia.

Se­nior Democrats openly ques­tioned why Repub­li­cans chose to fo­cus their at­ten­tion on the memo Mon­day in­stead of Trump’s de­ci­sion not to sanc­tion Rus­sian of­fi­cials on the ad­min­is­tra­tion’s newly re­leased oli­garchs list, which mir­rors a list Forbes magazine com­piled of the wealth­i­est Rus­sians.

“Th­ese are manda­tory sanc­tions,” Se­nate Mi­nor­ity Leader Charles Schumer, D-N.Y., said. “He is ig­nor­ing them and he is not im­ple­ment­ing them … mak­ing things worse.”

Sen. Lind­sey Gra­ham, R-S.C., has re­jected Democrats’ ar­gu­ment that re­leas­ing the memo will com­pro­mise the coun­try’s law en­force­ment agen­cies or other­wise un­der­mine the spe­cial coun­sel’s Rus­sia probe. He has ex­pressed sup­port for the House GOP’s cam­paign to re­lease the memo, and is work­ing him­self to de­ter­mine which un­der­ly­ing doc­u­ments — which were also pro­vided to the Se­nate Ju­di­ciary Com­mit­tee — ought to be de­clas­si­fied.

In the House, law­mak­ers were wait­ing for the pres­i­dent to de­cide whether the memo will be re­leased to the public. In the mean­time, mem­bers have been in­structed to stay mum about its con­tents, ac­cord­ing to Rep. Mark Mead­ows, R-N.C., chair­man of the House Free­dom Cau­cus.

“We need to make sure we don’t share any­thing,” Mead­ows re­called lead­ers say­ing dur­ing a GOP con­fer­ence meet­ing Tues­day morn­ing.


In an­other de­vel­op­ment, peo­ple fa­mil­iar with the mat­ter said the Jus­tice Depart­ment’s in­spec­tor gen­eral has been fo­cused for months on why An­drew McCabe, as the No. 2 of­fi­cial at the FBI, ap­peared not to act for about three weeks on a re­quest to ex­am­ine a batch of Clin­ton-re­lated emails found

in the lat­ter stages of the 2016 elec­tion cam­paign.

The in­spec­tor gen­eral, Michael Horowitz, has been ask­ing wit­nesses why FBI lead­er­ship seemed un­will­ing to move for­ward on the ex­am­i­na­tion of emails found on the lap­top of for­mer Rep. An­thony Weiner, D-N.Y., un­til late Oc­to­ber — about three weeks af­ter first be­ing alerted to the emails, ac­cord­ing to th­ese peo­ple, who spoke on the con­di­tion of anonymity to dis­cuss the sen­si­tive mat­ter.

A key ques­tion of the in­ter­nal in­ves­ti­ga­tion is whether McCabe or any­one else at the FBI wanted to avoid tak­ing ac­tion on the lap­top find­ings un­til af­ter the Nov. 8 elec­tion, th­ese peo­ple said. It is un­clear whether the in­spec­tor gen­eral has reached any con­clu­sions on that point.

A ma­jor line of in­quiry for the in­spec­tor gen­eral has been try­ing to de­ter­mine who at the FBI and the Jus­tice Depart­ment knew about the Clin­ton emails on the Weiner lap­top and when they learned about them. McCabe is a cen­tral fig­ure in those in­quiries, th­ese peo­ple said.

The FBI de­clined to com­ment, as did a spokesman for the in­spec­tor gen­eral. An at­tor­ney for McCabe did not re­spond to a re­quest for com­ment.

On Mon­day, McCabe left the FBI, af­ter a meet­ing with Wray in which they dis­cussed the in­spec­tor gen­eral’s in­ves­ti­ga­tion, ac­cord­ing to peo­ple fa­mil­iar with the mat­ter. Horowitz an­nounced in Jan­uary 2017 that he was ex­am­in­ing the Jus­tice Depart­ment’s han­dling of the Clin­ton in­ves­ti­ga­tion. His re­port is ex­pected in the spring.

The mat­ter of the Weiner lap­top emails has been de­bated pub­licly for more than a year, in part be­cause many Clin­ton sup­port­ers say the FBI tilted the 2016 race to­ward Trump when it an­nounced in late Oc­to­ber that it was re­open­ing its probe into Clin­ton’s use of a pri­vate email server when she served as sec­re­tary of state.

Key parts of what went into that de­ci­sion have re­mained murky and are a ma­jor fo­cus of the in­spec­tor gen­eral’s probe, ac­cord­ing to peo­ple fa­mil­iar with the mat­ter.

Separately on Tues­day, the House In­tel­li­gence Com­mit­tee’s in­ter­view with for­mer White House chief strate­gist Steve Ban­non was de­layed, ac­cord­ing to two peo­ple fa­mil­iar with the de­ci­sion. The peo­ple spoke on con­di­tion of anonymity to dis­cuss pri­vate com­mit­tee de­lib­er­a­tions.

Ban­non was set to be in­ter­viewed pri­vately to­day. But one of the peo­ple fa­mil­iar with the de­ci­sion to de­lay it said it was pre­ma­ture to sched­ule it this week be­cause dis­cus­sions with the White House over what Ban­non can tell the com­mit­tee have only just started.

The com­mit­tee sub­poe­naed Ban­non ear­lier this month af­ter he re­fused to an­swer ques­tions about his time in the Trump ad­min­is­tra­tion at the direc­tion of the White House coun­sel’s of­fice.

Rep. Mike Con­away, the Texas Repub­li­can lead­ing the House in­ves­ti­ga­tion of Rus­sian in­ter­fer­ence, said that Ban­non’s sub­poena, which is set to ex­pire to­day, can eas­ily be ex­tended.

In­for­ma­tion for this ar­ti­cle was con­trib­uted by Karoun Demir­jian, Devlin Bar­rett, Josh Dawsey, Sean Sul­li­van and Erica Werner of The

Wash­ing­ton Post and by Chad Day, Zeke Miller, Eric Tucker, Jonathan Lemire,Tom LoBianco, Mary Clare Jalonick and Andy Tay­lor of The As­so­ci­ated Press.

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