WH re­view­ing clas­si­fied memo on sur­veil­lance abuse

Ripon Bulletin - - Nation/Dollars & Sense -

WASH­ING­TON (AP) — 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 on the Rus­sia in­ves­ti­ga­tion that has 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 has sig­naled he wants it made pub­lic. The memo ar­rived at the White House on Mon­day evening 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 have said the memo re­veals im­proper use of sur­veil­lance by the FBI and the Jus­tice Depart­ment in the Rus­sia in­ves­ti­ga­tion. Democrats have called 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 that 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.

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.

It also came af­ter Deputy At­tor­ney Gen­eral Rod Rosen­stein and FBI Di­rec­tor Christo­pher Wray warned White House chief of staff John Kelly that re­leas­ing the memo pub­licly could set a dan­ger­ous prece­dent, ac­cord­ing to a per­son fa­mil­iar with the con­ver­sa­tion.

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