President '100 percent' for releasing GOP memo
President to decide whether to release classified memo
President Donald Trump was overheard Tuesday telling a Republican lawmaker he is "100 percent" in favor of releasing a classified memo on the Russia investigation that has sparked a political fight pitting Republicans against the FBI and the Justice Department. "Oh yeah, don't worry," the president told South Carolina Rep. Jeff Duncan on the House floor after his first State of the Union address. "100 percent." Duncan previously implored Trump to "release the memo." Television cameras captured the exchange as Trump was leaving the chamber.
More about the controversial memo.
WASHINGTON — The White House said Tuesday it will conduct a legal and national security review before President Donald Trump decides whether to release a classified memo about the Russia investigation that sparked a political fight pitting Republicans against the FBI and the Department of Justice.
Trump has five days to object to the release of the memo, though he previously signaled he wants it made public. The memo arrived Monday evening at the White House after Republicans on the House intelligence committee brushed aside opposition from the Justice Department and voted to release it.
The four-page memo was written by Republicans on the committee, led by chairman Rep. Devin Nunes of California, a close Trump ally who has become a fierce critic of the FBI and the Justice Department.
Republicans say the memo reveals improper use of surveillance by the FBI and the Justice Department in the Russia investigation. Democrats call it a selectively edited group of GOP talking points that attempt to distract from the committee’s own investigation into Russian meddling.
On Tuesday, House Speaker Paul Ryan said he supports the memo’s release but doesn’t want Republicans to use it to attack special counsel Robert Mueller, who is investigating Russian meddling in the 2016 election and whether Trump’s campaign was involved.
“This is a completely separate matter from Bob Mueller’s investigation and his investigation should be allowed to take its course,” Ryan said, noting he also supports Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein, who oversees Mueller.
Ryan said the memo shows “there may have been malfeasance at the FBI by certain individuals.” He did not provide additional details, only saying that “there are legitimate questions about whether an American’s civil liberties were violated by the FISA process,” a reference to the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act.
It’s unclear how FBI malfeasance could have solely resulted in a judge signing off on a FISA warrant. Applications for such warrants are submitted by Justice Department lawyers before a judge of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court. Those lawyers would have to authorize and ultimately prepare any filing that is made.
Ryan’s comments came after House Democratic leader Nancy Pelosi said late Monday on CNN that Ryan is allowing the release of a “false memo based on a false premise.”
The vote to release the memo is an unprecedented move by the committee, which typically goes out of its way to protect classified information in the interest of protecting intelligence sources and methods.
On Tuesday, White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders pushed back on reports that the release was imminent, saying the White House has no “current plans” to do so.
“The president has not seen or been briefed on the memo or reviewed its contents,” she said.
Speaker of the House Paul Ryan, R-Wis., confers with Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy, R-Calif., during a news conference Tuesday at the Capitol in Washington.
Devin Nunes, R-Calif., chairman of the House intelligence committee, strides to a GOP conference Tuesday at the Capitol.