President Donald Trump — poised to approve the release of a classified memo about the Russia investigation — on Friday ripped the ongoing probe, accusing top law enforcement officials of favoring Democrats.
“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,” Trump tweeted. “Rank & File are great people!” he added.
In a second tweet, Trump quoted from a recent speech by Tom Fitton, the president of the conservative watchdog operation Judicial Watch.
“‘You had Hillary Clinton and the Democratic Party try to hide the fact that they gave money to GPS Fusion to create a Dossier which was used by their allies in the Obama Administration to convince a Court misleadingly, by all accounts, to spy on the Trump Team,’ Tom Fitton, JW” Trump wrote in his tweet.
The president’s posts come amid news that he is expected to tell the House Intelligence Committee that he does not object to the release of a classified memo about the Russia investigation that examines how the FBI eavesdrops on suspects in national security investigations.
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A decision not to block the memo's release would go against warnings from law enforcement officials — the FBI has said it has "grave concerns" about the memo's accuracy — as well as Democrats, who contend the memo is aimed at distorting the federal probe into Russian interference in the 2016 election.
Speaking to reporters aboard Air Force One on Thursday, a senior White House official said the White House has had time over the last couple of days to look over the memo "to make sure it doesn’t give away too much in terms of classification."
The official predicted that the White House would "tell the Congress, probably tomorrow, that the president is OK with it," but noted that the ultimate public disclosure of the memo is in the hands of Congress.
It was not immediately clear whether the memo would be redacted when it is made public.
Republican lawmakers in support of the memo's release say it examines how the FBI eavesdrops on suspects in national security investigations. They have also contended it shows corruption in the FBI, proving that special counsel Robert Mueller's investigation is based on a fraud.
Specifically, they say the memo shows that the FBI relied on an opposition research dossier paid for by Democrats to obtain a warrant to conduct secret surveillance on a Trump campaign aide, Carter Page.
House Republicans voted to release the classified memo Monday night under a House rule that lawmakers say has not been used in modern times. The president has until Friday to object.
Democrats have called the memo a grossly distorted attack on the Mueller probe, which is investigating Trump's campaign for possible collusion with Russia and obstruction of justice, while Justice Department officials told NBC News that the issues raised in the memo are so highly classified that they may not be in a position to point out errors or misleading statements.
The FBI has said the memo is inaccurate and misleading and has launched a fairly extensive effort to prevent its release that has included an unusual unsigned statement and a visit to the White House by FBI Director Christopher Wray and Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein who asked Trump's chief of staff, John Kelly, not to make the memo public.
Trump would have several options in how to move forward in making the memo public.
He could declassify the memo and then release it in whatever way the White House chooses, or he could declassify it and send it back to the House to handle the public disclosure.
If the president does declassify the memo, the House Intelligence Committee has more leeway to make the contents public as it chooses, and it is not required that the House be in session. Just how soon the House would release the material is not clear.
The president could also choose not to declassify the memo but notify the House he has no objection to its release. That would require that the memo be submitted to the Congressional Record or have a member read it on the floor, which would have to take place when the House is in session. That would likely occur Monday at the earliest.