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Tag: Justice Department

Trump’s Tough Choice: Release Memo Rebuttal Or Risk Perilous Standoff

President Trump, via White House

By Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

The Republican-led House Intelligence Committee voted unanimously Monday to publicly disclose a classified, Democratic rebuttal of the much-disputed GOP memo that set off a political firestorm that continued to rage this week.

Now Donald Trump has five days to decide whether he wants to block the document’s release. If he objects to the disclosure, the full House has the option of accepting the decision or trying to override the president in what certainly would set the stage for an ugly, high-stakes standoff with Democrats, some Republicans and federal law enforcement agencies.

The Democratic rebuttal disputes the GOP memo, which alleges the FBI and Justice Department abused their powers to spy on former Trump campaign adviser, Carter Page, who was suspected of being a Russian agent.

The president and his congressional allies contend the alleged surveillance abuses demonstrate an anti-Trump bias in the FBI and Justice Department, which are overseeing the special counsel investigation of Trump and Russia.

As the investigation heats up and is focusing on whether the president obstructed justice by interfering in the probe, Trump’s strategy has been to cast himself as the victim of the “single biggest witch hunt” in U.S. history. The Republican memo provided the president with ammunition to ramp up his assault on the agencies’ reputations.

But the release of the Democratic memo could undermine Trump’s narrative, which has been dismissed by congressional members from both parties and the FBI and DOJ as a reckless, shameless campaign to cast doubts about any conclusions drawn during the probe.

A White House official told the New York Times that it would review the memo before deciding whether to block it. 

“We will consider it along the same terms that we considered the Nunes memo — which is to allow for a legal review — national security review — led by the White House Counsel’s Office,” spokesman Raj Shah told reporters aboard Air Force One.

GOP Releases Secret Memo But Fails to Show Anti-Trump Bias in Mueller Probe

President Trump, via White House

By Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

The House Intelligence Committee publicly released a disputed, Republican-drafted memo on Friday that claims the FBI and Justice Department abused their authority to spy on former Trump campaign adviser, Carter Page, who was suspected of being a Russian agent.

The unprecedented and controversial release of the memo was approved today by President Trump, setting off a political firestorm after he and his Republican allies ignored strong objections from the FBI and DOJ to keep the document classified.

The memo takes aim at what Republicans say is a glaring, suspicious omission in the application for a warrant to wire tap Page. Intelligence officials never mentioned in the application that some of the evidence relies on information by former British spy Christopher Steele, who was financed by the Democratic National Committee and lawyers for Hillary Clinton’s campaign to investigate ties between Trump’s campaign and Russia.

Trump and some of his allies claim the memo supports their repeated assertions that the FBI and DOJ harbor an anti-Trump bias that taints the special counsel investigation that is now focusing on whether the president obstructed justice by interfering wth the nine-month probe. Four former Trump aides have beeb indicted so far as part of the Robert Mueller investigation.

“The Committee has discovered serious violations of the public trust, and the American people have a right to know when officials in crucial institutions are abusing their authority for political purposes,” House Intelligence Committee Chairman Devin Nunes said in a statement. 

The memo claims the allegations of surveillance abuse “raise concerns with the legitimacy and legality of certain DOJ and FBI interactions with the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court.”

In a rare move, the FBI on Wednesday released a statement expressing “grave concerns about material omissions of fact that fundamentally impact the memo’s accuracy.”

Democrats slammed the memo as a partisan, misleading campaign to undermine confidence in the special counsel investigation, which could determine the fate of Trump’s presidency. Democrats also pointed out that the memo fails to provide evidence to cast doubt on the Mueller probe.

Trump Blasts Leadership of FBI, DOJ Today As He Plans to Release Ahead Politically Divisive Memo

By Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

President Trump blasted “the top leadership and investigators” of the FBI and Justice Department this morning, just hours before he is expected to publicly release a secret, much-disputed memo that alleges the two agencies abused their power to spy on one of the president former aides during the 2016 presidential election.

”The top Leadership and Investigators of the FBI and the Justice Department have politicized the sacred investigative process in favor of Democrats and against Republicans – something which would have been unthinkable just a short time ago. Rank & File are great people!” Trump tweeted early Friday. 

Republicans on the House Intelligence Committee voted along party lines Monday to approve the release of the memo written by GOP staff over the objections of the Justice Department, which warned the document’s disclosure would be “extraordinarily reckless.” In a rare move Wednesday, the president’s FBI expressed “grave concerns about material omissions of fact that fundamentally impact the memo’s accuracy.”   

Democrats argue the unprecedented release of confidential material by Republicans is a part of a misleading and desperate effort to undermine the special counsel investigation of Trump, his former and current aides and Russian officials who interfered with the U.S. election.

Even Republican House Speaker Paul Ryan warned GOP members to resist exaggerating the memo’s findings and not to use it to undermine the Robert Mueller investigation, which so far has indicted four former Trump aides.

But it appears, especially from Trump’s tweet this morning, that the president and his allies plan to weaponize the politically divisive memo as part of a larger campaign to erode trust in the intelligence agencies overseeing the Mueller probe, which now is focusing on whether the president obstructed justice by trying to fire or silence top members of the FBI and Justice Department.

Democrats Claim Republicans Secretly Doctored Trump-Russia Memo

Rep. Adam Schiff.

By Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

The top Democrat on the House Intelligence Committee has accused Republicans of sharing with the White House a “secretly altered” version of a controversial, much-disputed memo alleging the Justice Department and FBI improperly surveilled a former Trump campaign aide during the 2016 election campaign.

Rep. Adam Schiff, D-Calif., said the memo, written by Republicans, was altered after the committee voted along party lines to release the document despite warnings from the Justice Department and FBI to keep in the information classified. 

Schiff said the committee members were “never apprised of, never had the opportunity to review, and never approved” revisions made by Republicans before handing off the memo to the president, who is expected to approve the corrosive document’s release.

Schiff is demanding that the memo be withdrawn until a new vote can be held on the revised document, which some Republicans want to use to suggest an anti-Trump bias in the special counsel investigation of the president and Russia.

A spokesman the committee’s chairman, Republican Devin Nunes, claims Schiff is exaggerating the altercations, saying only minor change, including grammatical fixes, were made to the document.

Schiff countered that the changes were “material and substantive” and not approved by the committee, which Democrats say is a violation of congressional practices.

Schiff made the claims in a letter to Nunes.

The White House is expected to approve the memo’s release Friday morning, but claims that the document was doctored may delay the public disclosure.

FBI Clashes with Trump over ‘Grave Concerns’ about Secret GOP Memo

FBI Director Christopher Wray speaking at a congressional committee hearing.

By Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

In a rare move, the FBI on Wednesday released a public statement expressing “grave concerns” about the release of a secret, Republican-drafted memo that purports to show the Justice Department and FBI improperly surveilled the Trump campaign during the 2016 election campaign.

The sharply worded statement marks the first public clash between the president and his FBI director, Christopher Wray, as tensions flare over a much-disputed memo that Democrats say is a shameless ploy by Trump allies to undermine the special counsel investigation.

The “F.B.I. was provided a limited opportunity to review this memo the day before the committee voted to release it,” the bureau said in the statement today. “As expressed during our initial review, we have grave concerns about material omissions of fact that fundamentally impact the memo’s accuracy.

Trump supports the release of the memo because he believes it will undermine confidence in an investigation that ultimately could determine the fate of his presidency.

The Justice Department previously warned it would be “extraordinarily reckless” for the Republican-led House Intelligence Committee to approve the release of the document because it draws from highly sensitive material.

The committee ignored the warnings Monday, voting along party lines to publicly release the four-page document, which claims the Justice Department and FBI – the two agencies overseeing the special counsel probe – abused their authority by extending surveillance of former Trump campaign adviser and suspected Russian agent Carter Page. Trump, who has indicated he wants to publicly release the memo, has three days to sign off on the document’s disclosure.

Some Republicans want to use the document to suggest the special counsel investigation was tainted from the start by an anti-Trump bias.

Democrats dismissed the memo as propaganda in the escalating campaign by the president and his allies to undermine the two agencies tasked with overseeing the ongoing investigation of the president, his campaign and Russia. The probe has produced indictments of four former Trump aides so far, and Mueller plans to soon interview the president to determine whether he obstructed justice by trying to tamper with the investigation.

Thousands of Russian-linked social media accounts have cropped up in the past month to spread support for releasing the document. Many of them have joined a viral hashtag campaign on Twitter – #ReleaseTheMemo – to press for the public disclosure of the memo.

House Speaker Ryan Urges Republicans to Resist Linking Memo to Mueller Probe

Rep.Paul Ryan

By Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

House Speaker Paul Ryan urged fellow Republicans on Tuesday to resist using a politically divisive memo alleging “shocking” misconduct in the FBI and Justice Department to undermine confidence in the special counsel investigation of President Trump and Russia.

Speaking during a closed-door meeting with Republicans, Ryan implored them not to exaggerate the contents of the four-page memo and to abstain from linking it to the ongoing probe spearheaded by Robert Mueller, a source in the room told The Hill

“First, there are legitimate questions about whether an American’s civil liberties were violated by the [Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act] process,” he told reporters after the meeting. “This is a completely separate matter from Bob Mueller’s investigation and his investigation should be allowed to take its course.”

Ryan’s words of caution come one day after Republicans on the House Intelligence Committee voted to publicly release a classified, GOP-drafted memo that alleges the Justice Department and FBI abused their authority by extending surveillance of former Trump campaign adviser and suspected Russian agent Carter Page. 

Some Republicans have already said the memo, which the Justice Department warned would be “extraordinarily reckless” to release, demonstrates an anti-Trump bias in the FBI.

Democrats dismissed the memo as propaganda in the escalating campaign by the president and his allies to undermine the two agencies tasked with overseeing the ongoing investigation of the president, his campaign and Russia. The probe has produced indictments of four former Trump aides so far, and Mueller plans to soon interview the president to determine whether he obstructed justice by trying to tamper with the investigation.

The memo has been delivered to the White House, and Trump has four days to determine whether to approve the document’s release. He initially indicated he supports the memo’s release.

Thousands of Russian-linked social media accounts have cropped up in the past month to spread support for releasing the document. Many of them have joined a viral hashtag campaign on Twitter – #ReleaseTheMemo – to press for the public disclosure of the memo.

President Exaggerates Missing Texts Involving FBI Agent Accused of anti-Trump bias

President Trump, via White House

By Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

President Trump pounced on news that the FBI is missing text messages involving a top counter-intelligence official who was removed from the special counsel’s investigation of Russian meddling because of an anti-Trump bias.

In a Tuesday morning tweet, the president suggested the five months’ worth of missing text messages from the agent, Peter Strzok, is “one of the biggest stories on a long time.”

Trouble is, Trump overstated the number of missing texts – “perhaps 50,000” – prompting the Justice Department to correct the president.

Hundreds of text messages between Strzok and lawyer Lisa Page were released to reporters and Congress last month. The FBI released additional text messages on Friday, saying a computer glitch caused the messages to be improperly stored.

The Justice Department is trying to recover the messages.

Trump and conservative allies have pointed to the messages in an aggressively targeted campaign to suggest the special counsel investigation is a “witch hunt” perpetrated by anti-Trump investigators.

Trump Administration Mulls Jailing Leaders of Sanctuary Cities

By Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

President Trump’s uncompromising crackdown on illegal immigration may soon include legal consequences, including jail time, for leaders in so-called sanctuary cities.

The Justice Department announced its exploring “what avenues might be available” to file possible criminal charges against local politicians who provide sanctuary to illegal immigrants, the San Diego Union-Tribune reports

Director Kirstjen Nielsen indicated Wednesday that the DOJ was “reviewing what avenues might be available” to hold sanctuary city leaders accountable for their policies that shelter unauthorized immigrants from deportation.

“The context of this is, of course, not only putting my [Immigration and Customs Enforcement] officers at risk, but also finding an efficient and effective way to enforce our immigration laws,” Nielsen said.

The prospect of filing criminal charges against local officials provoked outrage among some Democrats and civil rights groups.

“In free democracies, you can’t jail people for opposing the president’s policies, policies that courts have found to be lawful,” Vanita Gupta, the chief executive of the Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights and the former head of the civil rights division of the Justice Department, told the New York Times.