- Fox News host Shepard Smith lambasted House Intelligence Committee chairman Devin Nunes for promoting the idea that corruption exists within the FBI and the Department of Justice.
- Smith said the controversy over a memo purporting to detail illegal activities by the Obama administration could be a “partisan mass distraction.”
- Republicans and Democrats have been at odds over the significance of that memo and whether it should be released to the public.
Fox News host Shepard Smith slammed Republican Rep. Devin Nunes on Thursday for pushing the narrative that the FBI and the Department of Justice are biased against President Donald Trump.
Nunes, the chair of the House Intelligence Committee, helped write a controversial memo that purports to detail illegal surveillance by the Obama administration during the transition period after Trump’s 2016 election. Some Republicans are pushing the Trump administration to allow Nunes’ committee to publicly release the document.
“A memo can be a weapon of partisan mass distraction,” Smith said on his daytime news program, ‘Shepard Smith Reporting.’ “Especially at a pivotal moment in American history when it behooves the man in charge for supporters to believe the institutions can’t be trusted, investigators are corrupt, and the news media are liars. Context matters.”
Watch Smith’s remarks here:
Shep Smith just totally shattered the Nunes memo narrative his colleagues Fox News have been pushing. pic.twitter.com/JAdkVjQOtA
— Matthew Gertz (@MattGertz) January 25, 2018
But Republicans contend there are serious questions about the conduct of the special counsel Robert Mueller’s Russia investigation.
Their concerns intensified last month when it was reported that Mueller had removed FBI agent Peter Strzok from his investigative team after he discovered that Strzok made disparaging remarks about Trump in a series of text messages to his colleague, Lisa Page.
DOJ warns against memo release
The chorus of attacks against the FBI and DOJ picked up this week amid reports that the DOJ was unable to save thousands of those text messages exchanged over a period of five months because of a software glitch.
But on Thursday, DOJ Inspector General Michael Horowitz told Congress that his office had recovered those messages, Reuters reported.
While members of Congress are expected to receive access to those texts, the DOJ is still hesitant to allow them to publicly release Nunes’ memo.
“We believe it would be extraordinarily reckless for the Committee to disclose such information publicly without giving the Department and the FBI the opportunity to review the memorandum and to advise the [House Intelligence Committee] of the risk of harm to national security and to ongoing investigations that could come from public release,” Assistant Attorney General Stephen Boyd said in a letter to Nunes on Wednesday.
Republican Sen. Chuck Grassley, who has called for the memo’s release, didn’t buy Boyd’s defence.
“It sure looks like a bureaucratic game of hide the ball rather than a genuine concern about national security,” he said.
Democrats, meanwhile, have largely rejected the way Republicans have characterised the memo. They have plans to release a memo of their own to counter GOP claims that the FBI and DOJ are biased and corrupt.