Trump Mulls Release of Secret Memo on FBI Actions in Russia Probe

Rachel del Guidice /

President Donald Trump must decide whether to make public a classified memo on potential FBI abuse of a government surveillance law in pursuing allegations against him.

Republicans on the House intelligence committee voted to release the document over the objections of Democrats.

“Voting to release this memo was the right decision,” Rep. Mark Meadows, R-N.C., said in a statement provided to The Daily Signal. “Abuse of surveillance powers should not be a partisan concern—it undermines the very spirit of who we are as a nation.”

The four-page memo, reportedly commissioned by the committee chairman, brings into question the conduct of the Justice Department and the FBI with regard to a document containing potentially compromising but unverified information about Trump’s dealings in Russia before he was president.

The memo under review by White House officials also is said to characterize investigators’ politically charged use of the surveillance law known as FISA to spy on one or more Trump associates after the election.

Meadows, chairman of the House Freedom Caucus, said he believes Americans should see the memo, which committee Republicans voted Monday night to release.

“If such behavior occurred at the FBI and the Department of Justice, Americans deserve and demand to know,” Meadows said. “I applaud the intelligence committee and Chairman Nunes for his outstanding leadership in moving us toward an open and transparent discussion on the memo’s contents.”

Rep. Devin Nunes, R-Calif., chairman of the House Permanent Committee on Intelligence, spearheaded efforts to assemble and consider releasing the memo.

In a press conference, Nunes’ Democrat counterpart on the intelligence committee, Rep. Adam Schiff, D-Calif., called the decision to release the document a “very sad day, I think, in the history of this committee.”

Fox News Channel host Tucker Carlson reported Monday night that while nearly 200 Republican lawmakers had reviewed the memo, only about two dozen Democrats had done so.

Lawmakers who have reviewed the classified memo in a secured room say it shows “what role the unverified anti-Trump ‘dossier’ played in the application for a surveillance warrant on at least one Trump associate,” Fox News reported.

Christopher Steele, a former British intelligence officer, authored the so-called dossier containing allegations about Trump’s connections with and actions in Russia years before he was the Republican nominee for president.

Steele wrote the document for Fusion GPS, a research company that was paid for the work by both the Democratic National Committee and the presidential campaign of Hillary Clinton, Trump’s Democrat opponent in the 2016 election.

James Comey, fired as FBI director in May by Trump, said June 8 that the so-called Trump dossier was unverified.

Meadows, along with Rep. Jim Jordan, R-Ohio, and other Republican lawmakers, continues to press for answers from the FBI.

Trump has five days to decide whether to stop the classified memofrom being released, Fox and CNN reported.

The Daily Signal requested comment from the White House on the potential timing of its release, but did not receive a response by publication deadline.

House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., led Democrats’ criticism of Republicans’ calls to release the memo, slamming House Speaker Paul Ryan, R-Wis., in doing so.

“Chairman Nunes’ memo contains significant inaccuracies and omissions that misrepresent the underlying intelligence and jeopardize the effectiveness of our intelligence and law enforcement communities,” Pelosi said Tuesday in a press release.

“Americans should be deeply concerned by Speaker Ryan’s sanctioning of this irresponsible decision and his complicity in allowing the committee investigation to devolve into a sad political spectacle,” she said.

FBI Director Christopher Wray reportedly reviewed the memo Sunday.

Wray’s No. 2, Andrew McCabe, resigned Monday as FBI deputy director, and reportedly was removed from his position, as The Daily Signal previously reported.

It is not clear to what extent the memo refers to McCabe, a veteran FBI official whose wife’s unsuccessful 2015 campaign for Virginia state Senate received hundreds of thousands in donations from a Clinton-friendly political action committee.

“A lot of Americans have the question, how was this dossier used, if at all?” Jordan said in an interview on “Fox & Friends” Tuesday morning, adding:

There’s lots of questions that exist, and when you put it all together, and look what happened in the Clinton [email] investigation, what we have learned in these text messages between Peter Strzok [and fellow FBI agent Lisa Page]  …  I think Americans are going to want to see this. This is not just bias, this is animus against President Trump.

Jordan noted that Strzok, whom special counsel Robert Mueller removed from his investigation into the extent of Russia’s interference in the presidential election, was “not just anybody in the FBI, [but] deputy head of counterintelligence Peter Strzok, [a] key player.”

Lawmakers have expressed concern that at least five months’ worth of electronic text messages between Strzok and Page, a bureau lawyer, went missing until recently found.

Strzok and Page, who were having an affair,  repeatedly denigrated Trump in previously released text messages.

Ken McIntyre contributed to this report.