Nunes’ memo—which will either blow the lid on an abuse of power greater than Watergate or is a trumped up, partisan attack based on a willfully false misinterpretation of facts (depending on who you ask)—gained support over the weekend when it was revealed the president endorsed its release.
According to the Washington Post, after the Justice Department warned in another memo that the memo’s release could be harmful to national security and that it wished to review it first, Trump hit Attorney General Jeff Sessions with the hashtag.
Not literally, but he ordered Chief of Staff John Kelly to tell Sessions he wanted to release the memo. A spokesman for the president, Hogan Gidley, echoed the Post‘s reporting.
“The president has been clear publicly and privately that he wants absolute transparency throughout this process. Based on numerous news reports, top officials at the F.B.I. have engaged in conduct that shows bias against President Trump and bias for Hillary Clinton. While President Trump has the utmost respect and support for the rank-and-file members of the F.B.I., the anti-Trump bias at the top levels that appear to have existed is troubling.”
The memo has become one of the biggest controversies swirling around Washington since its existence was revealed just over a week ago. Although it has been kept in a locked room in the Capitol, its premise has started to be revealed.
In it, Nunes likely alleges that the FBI obtained a FISA warrant to surveil Carter Page during the 2016 election by using fake documents, including the infamous Steele dossier. Page was a foreign policy advisor to Trump who has ties to Moscow.
Nunes’ memo is based on classified information that would not be released alongside it, meaning that only Nunes’ interpretation of the situation would be presented. That has become an issue for Democrats, who have prepared a competing memo to counter the memo.
A new revelation from the New York Times, though, reveals that the FBI’s surveillance of Page possibly continued past the campaign, to after the president took office. Page has not had a role in the Trump White House. But that has put Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein, whom the Times reports is being accused of approving the application for the FISA warrant renewal after Trump took office, in the crosshairs.
It is not known if the FISA court then granted the request to continue to surveil Page.
The Post revealed that Trump—who was upset about Sessions recusing himself from the Russia investigation—also has taken issue with Rosenstein’s supervision of Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s probe into Trump’s campaign ties to Russia.
Trump recently revived his complaints that Deputy Attorney General Rod J. Rosenstein was not properly supervising Mueller’s probe, and suggested that he should fire Rosenstein—a highly controversial action against the person officially overseeing the special counsel’s investigation, an adviser who speaks frequently with Trump said.
The Republicans hold a 13-9 edge on the House Intelligence Committee, which means a party-line vote would allow for the memo’s release.
If it is voted on, Trump would have five days to block its release before the public can read it for themselves.