House Republicans on Friday released a bitterly disputed memo that they say shows surveillance abuses in the early stages of the FBI’s investigation into the Trump campaign and Russia.
The memo, prepared by Republicans on the House intelligence committee, says there was “a troubling breakdown of legal processes” in the Russia investigation.
President Donald Trump, who advocated for the memo’s release, told reporters the document shows “a lot of people should be ashamed of themselves.”
“I think it’s terrible,” Trump said. “You want to know the truth. I think it’s a disgrace. What’s going on in this country, I think it’s a disgrace.”
The memo asserts that current and former FBI and Justice Department leaders signed off on a surveillance warrant to monitor communications of a former Trump campaign associate.
The document also asserts that opposition research, conducted by a British spy and funded in part by the Democratic National Committee and Clinton campaign, formed a critical basis for the allegations contained in the warrant application.
They say that research should not have been a basis for the warrant because it contains unproven allegations.
The release of the memo is likely to further divide Trump and his FBI and Justice Department leaders
Trump’s approval of the memo release set up a clash with the man he picked to lead the FBI, Christopher Wray, after firing James Comey as agency director.
Democrats keep whining that the memo cherry-picks intelligence in an effort to smear law enforcement investigating whether Trump associates collaborated with Russia to sway the 2016 presidential election.
“This is designed to impugn the credibility of the FBI, to undermine the investigation, to give the president additional fodder to attack the investigation. And it’s a tremendous disservice to the American people,” Rep. Adam Schiff, the senior Democrat on the House Intelligence Committee, said on CBS “This Morning.”
The document was written by GOP lawmakers as part of an effort to reveal surveillance abuses by the FBI and the Justice Department early in Russia investigation, before special counsel Mueller was appointed to take it over.
The House intelligence panel voted along party lines Monday to put the memo out, giving Trump five days to reject the release under committee rules. But Trump also had the power to declassify the document himself.
Senior FBI officials, including Wray, also made direct appeals to the White House, warning that it could set a dangerous precedent.
Democrats on the intelligence panel made a last-ditch effort Wednesday evening to stop the release, lying that the memo had been “secretly altered” by the Republicans who wrote it.
“The White House has therefore been reviewing a document since Monday night that the committee never approved for public release,” Schiff said in the letter.
Schiff asked Nunes for another vote on the memo, but Republicans didn’t waver. Nunes spokesman Jack Langer said the committee vote was “procedurally sound.”
Trump has been telling confidants in recent days that he believed the GOP House members’ document would validate his concerns that the FBI and Justice Department conspired against him.
The president also has told allies that he believes the memo bolsters his claim that accusations of collusion between his campaign and Russian officials are false and part of a conspiracy to discredit his election.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.