With president Donald Trump’s approval, the House has released a memo that alleges anti-Trump bias in the FBI and Justice department. It sets the stage for a dramatic face-off between law enforcement and the executive branch.
The four-page memo says that the FBI applied for a warrant to secretly monitor Trump aide Carter Page, based in part on information from the controversial Steele dossier, which Republicans say is biased. It was written by staffers for House Intelligence Committee chair and staunch Trump defender Devin Nunes. Nunes himself has not actually seen the intelligence the memo is based on.
The FBI counters that the memo is intentionally misleading. FBI director Christopher Wray earlier took the highly unusual step of publicly calling for the memo to be withheld, saying his institution has “grave concerns about material omissions of fact that fundamentally impact the memo’s accuracy.” Nunes says Wray’s statement is “spurious.”
Adam Schiff, the leading Democrat in the House Intelligence Committee, criticized the memo as cherrypicking information, and as failing to provide key context on “what the FBI knew about Carter Page prior to making application to the court.” He also warned that the unusual release could make US intelligence gathering more difficult. “If potential intelligence sources know that their identities might be compromised when political winds arise, those sources of vital information will simply dry up.”
While Democrats say this is part of a political campaign to discredit the investigation into Trump’s Russia ties, Nunes insists this is about transparency and a case where a Page’s civil rights may have been violated.