The Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) issued a statement defending itself and expressing “grave concerns” about a House Intelligence Committee memo due to be released in days.
The memo reportedly details abuse by senior Obama Justice Department and FBI officials in obtaining a surveillance warrant against Trump foreign policy campaign adviser Carter Page under the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA).
“The FBI takes seriously its obligations to the FISA Court and its compliance with procedures overseen by career professionals in the Department of Justice and the FBI. We are committed to working with the appropriate oversight entities to ensure the continuing integrity of the FISA process,” said the statement.
“With regard to the House Intelligence Committee’s memorandum, the FBI was provided a limited opportunity to review this memo the day before the committee voted to release it,” it said, referencing FBI Director Christopher Wray’s viewing of the memo on Sunday.
“As expressed during our initial review, we have grave concerns about material omissions of fact that fundamentally impact the memo’s accuracy,” it said.
House Intelligence Chairman Devin Nunes (R-CA) immediately fired back at the FBI in a statement:
Having stonewalled Congress’ demands for information for nearly a year, it’s no surprise to see the FBI and DOJ issue spurious objections to allowing the American people to see information related to surveillance abuses at these agencies.
The FBI is intimately familiar with ‘material omissions’ with respect to their presentations to both Congress and the courts, and they are welcome to make public, to the greatest extent possible, all the information they have on these abuses. Regardless, it’s clear that top officials used unverified information in a court document to fuel a counter-intelligence investigation during an American political campaign.
Once the truth gets out, we can begin taking steps to ensure our intelligence agencies and courts are never misused like this again.
The four-page memo reportedly summarizes some classified information that committee staffers were allowed to view in a secure setting and take notes on, but not to keep.
Republicans on the committee have used the words “shocking” to describe the memo, but they also say it is based on facts.
Democrats on the committee have offered shifting explanations as to why the memo should not be released — that it was dangerous to national security; that readers would not understand; and that it is a distortion of the facts.
They have drafted their own memo, which they argue will dispute the Republican memo and give their own context. The committee voted earlier this week to make that memo available to all House members first, before it is made public, as with the original memo.
The memo is slated to be released this or next week, barring any objections from the president.
The New York Times on Wednesday reported that FBI officials “say privately” that Trump, in approving the memo’s release, is “prioritizing politics over national security” and “putting the bureau’s reputation at risk.”
Republicans argue that the FBI opposes releasing the memo since it will expose its own wrongdoing, and that there is no reason to submit a memo exercising oversight on the DOJ and the FBI to those agencies to approve the release of.
Earlier this week, Deputy FBI Director Andrew McCabe announced he was going on terminal leave, after FBI Director Christopher Wray reportedly viewed a Justice Department inspector general report that said McCabe did nothing for three weeks after learning there were Hillary Clinton emails on Anthony Weiner’s laptop.
Wray and Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein, who is reportedly mentioned in the memo for extending the spy warrant on Page, visited the White House to meet with Chief of Staff John Kelly on Monday for a “last-ditch effort.”
Kelly, however, said on a Fox News radio show Wednesday morning that he expected the memo to be released “pretty quick.”