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US Politics

Trump ‘will allow release of controversial memo on Friday’ – as Nancy Pelosi calls for Devin Nunes’ head

Trump has read the four-page memo, which alleges intelligence bias; FBI Director Christopher Wray will reportedly issue a rebuttal if it is released

PUBLISHED : Friday, 02 February, 2018, 1:08am
UPDATED : Friday, 02 February, 2018, 6:04am

US President Donald Trump will allow the release of Rep. Devin Nunes’ controversial intelligence memo, which alleges FBI and Department of Justice (DOJ) bias, on Friday, a senior White House official has revealed.

Trump has now read and been briefed on the four-page document, and officials are now taking input from lawyers and the intelligence community on any redactions that should be made, the official said on Thursday.

The official said the memo was expected to be released by the House Intelligence Committee, which had already voted to make it public. FBI Director Christopher Wray will issue a rebuttal if it is published, CBS News reported.

Explainer: Why Washington is at war over Russia probe memo

The news came just after Nancy Pelosi, the US House of Representatives’ top Democrat, said she wanted Nunes, the Republican chairman of the House Intelligence Committee, to be removed from his post over the allegedly doctored memo.

Pelosi, who is the House minority leader, said in a letter to House Speaker Paul Ryan that Nunes took “deliberately dishonest actions” by altering a classified Republican Party-written memo on the investigation into Russia’s election influence.

In her Thursday letter, Pelosi said Nunes’ actions “make him unfit to serve as chairman.” The document has trended under the #ReleaseTheMemo hashtag on conservative social media.

White House spokesman Raj Shah said on Thursday that White House involvement in the memo is limited to whether the memo should be blocked from release, as opposed to whether to release it.

Trump’s feud with the US Justice Department is coming to a head with FBI memo release

Democrats have accused Nunes and other Republicans of altering the memo after the House intelligence panel voted on Monday to send it to Trump for public release.

Pelosi says Nunes’ actions violate House rules and are aimed at discrediting the probe into Russia’s role in helping to elect Trump.

On Wednesday, Rep. Adam Schiff, a Democrat, told Nunes in a letter: “It is now imperative that the Committee Majority [Republicans] immediately withdraw the document that it sent to the White House.

FBI has ‘grave concern’ about Republican memo claiming anti-Trump bias

“If the Majority remains intent on releasing its document to the public, despite repeated warnings from DOJ and the FBI, it must hold a new vote to release to the public its modified document.”

Schiff said the vote could be held Monday, when the committee is already expected to have a business meeting.

However, a spokesman for the committee’s Republican majority said the changes were minor and Democrats are just trying to stop the memo’s release.

“In its increasingly strange attempt to thwart publication of the memo, the Committee Minority is now complaining about minor edits to the memo, including grammatical fixes and two edits requested by the FBI and by the Minority themselves,” spokesman Jack Langer said in a statement. 

“The vote to release the memo was absolutely procedurally sound, and in accordance with House and Committee rules. To suggest otherwise is a bizarre distraction from the abuses detailed in the memo, which the public will hopefully soon be able to read for themselves.”

The Federal Bureau of Investigation has also said it has “grave concerns” about the memo’s accuracy.

“The FBI was provided a limited opportunity to review this memo the day before the committee voted to release it,” it said in an unusual public statement. 

“As expressed during our initial review, we have grave concerns about material omissions of fact that fundamentally impact the memo’s accuracy.”

The memo involves the committee’s investigation of Russian meddling in the 2016 election, and claims that investigators misled judges when they applied for a wiretap against a Trump team member.

The FBI’s stance escalates the dispute and means Trump will be openly defying his hand-picked Bureau director, Christopher Wray, by continuing to push for the memo’s disclosure.

It also suggests a clear willingness by Wray to challenge a president who just months ago fired his predecessor, James Comey.