President Trump rattled Washington on Friday when he decided to release a controversial memo accusing FBI officials of abusing their powers to launch it's investigation into the Trump campaign and possible ties to Russia.
Many Republicans lauded the release of the memo, which claims FBI officials used a politically motivated and uncorroborated dossier to obtain warrants to spy on Carter Page, an adviser to the Trump campaign.
In an interview with Circa, Rep. Ron DeSantis (R-Fla.) said the memo shows "a confluence of the Democratic party, Hillary Clinton campaign, the Obama Justice Department and this Steele research."
The memo, drafted by House Intelligence Committee Chairman Devin Nunes (R-Calif.) alleges that FBI agents used an unverified dossiers compiled by former British Spy Christopher Steele and financed by the Clinton Campaign and Fusion GPS to seek warrants from the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court (FISC) to wire tap Page.
According to the memo, agents based their requests for surveillance on information from the dossier without including facts about the dossier's origins.
Some Republican lawmakers said this could be grounds for Trump to clean house at the FBI and Department of Justice.
"The fact of the matter is that a lot of these key people in DOJ... they didn't do a good job. They didn't play it straight and they weren't fair and I think the American people need to know that and that probably will end up strengthening the FBI," DeSantis said, adding that Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein will likely be asked to testify before Congress about his role in the warrant requests.
DeSantis also said it's likely more members will now urge the Department of Justice to appoint a second special counsel to look in to these allegations, something Reps. Jim Jordan (R-Ohio) and Mark Meadows (R-N.C.) have already called for.
"You could make a case that some of these omissions was deliberately misleading the court, so perhaps that triggers a potential criminal exposure," DeSantis said, adding the President has the "prerogative to make changes."
These revelations require an extensive response by all three branches of government. The Department of Justice along with the FISA court must determine whether crimes were committed by government officials withholding necessary information from the court. #FISAMemo— Rep. Jeff Duncan (@RepJeffDuncan) February 2, 2018
But not all Republicans are happy about the release of the memo.
In a statement, Sen. John McCain blasted the memo as a "partisan attack on the FBI and DOJ" and said undermining the Russia investigation would only help Russian President Vladimir Putin.
"The American people deserve to know all of the facts surrounding Russia’s ongoing efforts to subvert our democracy, which is why Special Counsel Mueller’s investigation must proceed unimpeded," McCain said.
Others worried that the release of the memo could jeopardize the intelligence community's ability to do its job.
As I have publicly stated on several occasions, it's a mistake to release this memo. No Members of Congress-nor their staff-should risk divulging sensitive sources/methods of Intelligence for partisan gain. This sets a dangerous precedent that may have far reaching implications.— Rep. Charlie Dent (@RepCharlieDent) February 2, 2018
No matter what you think about the Nunes Memo, I want to remind everyone: Russia's goal is to create instability & doubt in our gov't, institutions & leaders. There is no evidence that Russia changed the 2016 outcome, but it's clear their meddling has contributed to more division— Sen. James Lankford (@SenatorLankford) February 2, 2018
Democrats were outraged by the President's decision to release the memo, which they claim contained misleading and cherry-picked information purely meant to undermine Special Counsel Robert Mueller's independent investigation.
"The authors of the GOP memo would like the country to believe that the investigation began with Christopher Steele and the dossier, and if they can just discredit Mr. Steele, they can make the whole investigation go away regardless of the Russians’ interference in our election or the role of the Trump campaign in that interference," Rep. Adam Schiff (D-Calif.), the top Democrat on the House Intelligence Committee said in a statement.
"This ignores the inconvenient fact that the investigation did not begin with, or arise from Christopher Steele or the dossier, and that the investigation would persist on the basis of wholly independent evidence had Christopher Steele never entered the picture," he said.
In a statement, House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi said Trump had "surrendered his constitutional responsibility as Commander-in-Chief" by releasing the memo.
Others said the decision was dangerous and threatened the integrity of American intelligence gathering.
This is a dangerous, politically motivated decision. It’s alarming that House Republicans and President Trump would rather attack our law enforcement agencies and discredit our institutions than address the real issue at hand: Russian interference in our elections. https://t.co/DBmwEGE67N— Kirsten Gillibrand (@SenGillibrand) February 2, 2018
"There’s no sources and methods in this at all," DeSantis said. "The only source in there is Christopher Steele and his method that’s in there is leaking information to the media. That's not exactly a state secret there that we have to protect."
House Democrats have drafter their own memo, which they claim provides context that is missing from the Nunes memo. That memo has not yet been released, but could be after it has been reviewed by intelligence officials.
Meadows told reporters on Friday that the Democratic memo "did not contradict any of the facts" of the Nunes memo.
In a statement, House Speaker Paul Ryan said he supports releasing the Democratic memo "once it is properly scrubbed of all intelligence sources and methods." Both DeSantis and Meadows told Circa they also thought the second memo should eventually be released.
One thing some members from both sides of the aisle agree on in the whole #MemoDay debacle is that the concern over the document should renew debate in Congress over the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) and whether or not it infringes on American's Fourth Amendment Privacy rights.
Earlier this month Congress passed legislation to reauthorize a controversial section of FISA that gives intelligence agencies authority to spy on foreign nationals.
"While I applaud the release of this memo, I also call for Congress to take immediate action to help prevent such behavior in the future. It is imperative it start by listening to Americans who have expressed outrage over its disregard for the Fourth Amendment and reexamining the powers it reauthorized right before we learned of the memo," said Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) in a statement.
Every member of this administration’s national security team should explain whether or not they agreed with the administration’s decision to greenlight the use of classified information for nakedly partisan ends, which lays bare the hypocrisy around the argument that pervasive secrecy is necessary for national security,” Sen. Ron Wyden (D-Ore.) said in a statement.
“However, if my colleagues are serious about their newfound concerns to protect Americans against unnecessary government surveillance, I urge them to rethink their votes last month to expand government spying powers under FISA Section 702. They should bring the USA RIGHTS Act back up for a vote to ensure our government is protecting Americans’ rights as well as their security.”
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