- Top Senate Republican John Thune has called on House Republicans to heed the warning issued by the FBI on the release of the controversial and allegedly misleading memo authored by GOP Rep. Devin Nunes.
- The FBI had issued a rare statement on the memo, citing “grave concerns” about its accuracy.
- Democrats in both the House and the Senate have called for immediate action to stop Nunes, and House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi has called for Nunes to be removed from his post on the House Intelligence Committee.
- President Donald Trump has reportedly read the memo, and supports its release.
A top Senate Republican has joined Democrats, national security experts, and some fellow Republicans in urging caution ahead of the release of a memo authored by House Intelligence Committee chairman Rep. Devin Nunes, and said advocates of the memo’s release should heed the warning issued by the FBI on Wednesday.
Sen. John Thune, who is the third most highly ranked Republican in the Senate, framed the release of the controversial memo, which alleges partisan bias and misconduct on the part of the Department of Justice (DOJ) and the FBI with regard to surveillance of President Donald Trump’s former campaign staff after he took office, as a national security matter.
“They need to pay careful attention to what our folks who protect us have to say about what this, you know, how this bears on our national security,” Thune told reporters on Thursday.
Thune was referring to a statement issued by the FBI on the memo on Wednesday.
“With regard to the House Intelligence Committee’s memorandum, the FBI was provided a limited opportunity to review this memo the day before the committee voted to release it,” the statement read. “As expressed during our initial review, we have grave concerns about material omissions of fact that fundamentally impact the memo’s accuracy.”
The FBI statement is unusual because the bureau rarely issues public statements of this sort.
Thune said it’s crucial for the Senate Intelligence Committee’s chairman, Sen. Richard Burr, to look over the memo before it is released, according to Politico.
“It would be helpful,” Thune said. “I think that Senator Burr would like to see it and hasn’t been able to yet.”
The Senate Intelligence Committee had asked that the memo also be sent to them for review, but House Republicans rebuffed this request.
Backlash and partisan battles across Capitol Hill
The memo, which was drafted by Nunes and approved by the House Intelligence Committee for release after a party-line vote earlier this week, contains information that the FBI and Democrats on the committee say needs to be verified. The committee’s Democrats, led by Rep. Adam Schiff, have drafted an alternate memo that claims to corroborate the FBI’s statement and lays out how the Nunes memo omits facts and distorts the actions of the agencies it mentions.
“This represents another effort to distract from the Russia probe and undermine the Special Counsel,” Schiff said last week, referring to the Russia investigation led by special counsel Robert Mueller that is under the purview of the DOJ. “With this latest gambit, however, the Majority seeks to selectively and misleadingly characterise classified information in an effort to protect the President at any cost.”
But the Democrats’ memo was blocked from release by Republicans on the House Intelligence Committee through another party line vote.
Trump was sent the memo for review after it was approved for release, and the president reportedly read the memo on Thursday, according to The Washington Post. Trump has previously said that he is committed to releasing it because he believes it will discredit the Russia investigation. But Schiff claims that the memo Trump read had been altered by Nunes – and consequentially was not the version that was approved for release.
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