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Republicans on the House Intelligence Committee appeared to downplay the FBI’s concerns about the release of a controversial memo put together by Chairman Devin Nunes (R-CA), according to a transcript of the panel’s closed-door Monday meeting that was made public Wednesday.

Asked by Democrats whether the FBI had approved the memo’s release, Nunes didn’t answer directly, saying the committee was satisfied that the memo on the intelligence community’s alleged surveillance abuses did not “disclose any issues of national security.”

The FBI put out a statement Wednesday expressing “grave concerns” about the document’s accuracy.

The developments highlight the divide between the White House and congressional Republicans on one side who want to release the memo, and the FBI, DOJ and Democrats on the other, who says it’s a misleading effort to make the intelligence community appear biased against President Trump.

At Monday’s meeting, Rep. Pete King (R-NY) said FBI Director Christopher Wray and two other senior FBI employees had reviewed the document, prompting Rep. Eric Swalwell (D-CA) to ask if they were “okay” with its dissemination.

Nunes responded:“[O]ur goal was to make sure that we were not going to disclose any issues of national security, and we believe that we have met that threshold.”

The FBI on Wednesday issued a rare public statement disavowing the memo’s “material omissions of fact,” prompting Swalwell to fume on Twitter that his Republican committee colleagues had misled him.

The transcript also laid bare the battle over what, exactly, the minority and minority think they’re investigating. As Rep. Adam Schiff (D-CA) disclosed to reporters after Monday’s meeting wrapped, Nunes made the remarkable admission that he sees the DOJ and FBI as targets in their investigation into Russia’s interference in the U.S. election.

Rep. Mike Conaway (R-TX) had downplayed Schiff’s characterization that the committee majority had announced a designated investigation into those agencies, telling reporters they were simply engaged in standard “oversight.”

But the transcript shows Nunes took a stronger tone behind closed doors.

Schiff introduced a motion to delay the committee’s vote on the memo’s release so that the DOJ and FBI could provide the full House of Representatives with a briefing on security issues with making it public.

“The Department of Justice and the FBI have been under investigation by this committee for many, many months for FISA abuse and other matters,” Nunes replied, referring to his concerns about the validity of warrants issued by specialized foreign surveillance courts. “That investigation continues.”

Urging his colleagues to vote against Schiff’s motion, Nunes added, “We are not going to be briefed by people that are under investigation by this committee.”

Tierney Sneed contributed reporting.

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When pressed by a Democrat on his committee in a closed-door meeting, House Intelligence Chairman Devin Nunes (R-CA) denied coordinating with the White House on his controversial memo that purportedly reveals anti-Trump bias at the FBI and Justice Department—but sidestepped the question of whether committee staff had White House contacts.

In a newly released transcript of the committee’s Monday meeting, where the committee voted on party lines to release the memo, Nunes was asked about his motivations in assigning his staffers to craft it.

The Trump administration has pushed for the memo’s release, even as his top appointees at DOJ and FBI have made personal pleas and presumably approved of a rare public admonishment against doing so, citing national security concerns.

“Did they have any idea you were doing this?” Rep. Mike Quigley (D-IL) asked Nunes of the White House. “Did they talk about doing this with you? Did they suggest it? Did you suggest it to them? Did you consult in deciding how to go forward with this before, during, and after this point right now?”

“I would just answer, as far as I know, no,” Nunes replied.

Quigley pressed again for confirmation that “none of the staff members that worked for the majority had any consultation, communication at all with the White House.”

“The chair is not going to entertain—” Nunes replied, before he was interrupted by crosstalk.

He didn’t offer further comment on the issue.

Nunes has insisted that his only interest in getting the memo out is greater transparency. On Wednesday, after the FBI released a public statement asserting that the document’s accuracy is compromised by “material omissions,” he released a statement calling their concerns “spurious.”

The ranking Democrat on the committee, Rep. Adam Schiff (D-CA), countered in a statement that the transcript offered a “revealing and disquieting look into the strategy of Committee Republicans and that of Chairman Nunes in particular as they seek to protect President Trump from the Special Counsel’s investigation and congressional probes.”

Schiff said he would continue to press for the release of the committee Democrats’ 10-page rebuttal to the Nunes memo, which was blocked by their Republican colleagues.

Read the full transcript below.

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The Democratic voter fraud commissioner who sued the now-defunct panel last year claiming it had shut him out of its operations is now asking a court to allow him to serve a subpoena on its one-time leader so that records related to the lawsuit are not destroyed.

Maine Secretary of State Matthew Dunlap said in the filing that he is concerned that the commission’s co-chair, Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach, will not preserve internal communications a judge had previously ordered he handed over.

“Defendant Kobach’s record with respect to compliance—even with court orders—is spotty, to say the least,” Dunlap said.

Dunlap cited a fine Kobach had to pay in a seperate lawsuit, after misleading the judge, as well as the Justice Department’s posture in his case, in which it has argued that it cannot compel Kobach to turn over the documents but has asked him to save them.

Furthermore, Dunlap said that he did not receive a letter the Justice Department claimed to have sent to all of the commissioners asking that they preserve their commission records as the litigation continues. Regardless, Dunlap said, a letter “cannot stand in the place of judicial process that creates legally-enforceable obligations.”

In short, DOJ has disavowed any authority to legally obligate individual commissioners to preserve or return Commission records in their sole possession, and—though Secretary Dunlap rejects these contentions—based on its own position, DOJ believes it is currently powerless to prevent the destruction or loss of documents and information,” Dunlap said.

Trump dissolved the commission in early January, as it faced a flurry of lawsuits alleging a lack of transparency, among other things.

Dunlap filed his lawsuit in November, and in late December, a judge ordered that the commission turn over the communications Dunlap had been seeking.

Since the commission’s termination, the Justice Department has been in a multi-front legal battle fending off to new challenges brought against it, many based on statements Kobach made to the press about the future of his inquiry.

A letter from DOJ attorneys to Dunlap’s legal team included in the latest filing, indicates that they saw no “legal basis” for the document preservation subpoena.

“[I]t is difficult to understand why DOJ is opposing the issuance of a subpoena that seeks only to protect the Government’s interest in the preservation of Commission records that are outside the custody of the federal government, nor is it clear why DOJ is advancing arguments that seek only to protect Defendant Kobach—an individual whom DOJ claims is no longer a client—from judicial process,” Dunlap argued in the filing.

Read the full filing below:

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The Justice Department’s Inspector General (IG) is examining whether former FBI Deputy Director Andrew McCabe put off a request to dig through a batch of Hillary Clinton-related emails discovered in the run-up to the 2016 election, the Washington Post reported Tuesday.

The Post’s report—as well as other coverage of the role of the IG’s probe in McCabe’s abrupt resignation Monday—suggests McCabe may have acted improperly by waiting three weeks to act on the request from agents in the New York office. FBI director Chris Wray furthered that notion in a memo to FBI employees sent Monday night, which reportedly said McCabe’s departure was related to the forthcoming IG report.

Underlying the issue is the question of whether McCabe’s goal in slow-walking the probe was to avoid damaging Clinton’s campaign. McCabe’s wife ran for office as a Democrat in 2015, and President Trump and his allies have sought to paint him as part of an anti-Trump cabal at the FBI.

But the emerging consensus that McCabe acted improperly seems off base. For one thing, the IG report has yet to be released, meaning the public has only a very incomplete picture of the events at issue.

More important, if McCabe was moving slowly on the Clinton probe, he may have had good reason to do so: The Justice Department has a longstanding policy instructing staff to be especially cautious about taking any investigative steps that could influence elections, especially in the final stages of a campaign.

An internal Justice Department memo issued in 2012 to all employees on “Election Year Sensitivities” warns against taking any “overt investigative steps” near an election without getting guidance from the department’s Public Integrity Section.

Rather than a sign of pro-Clinton bias, McCabe’s caution seems to suggest he was following the rules, former federal prosecutors told TPM.

“The DOJ should do everything possible not to influence an upcoming election at any level,” Steve Miller, a 17-year veteran of the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Chicago, told TPM. “So if the reports are true that he slow-rolled it, that would be, in my view, consistent with DOJ policy. Nothing remotely nefarious jumps out at me.”

“I can’t imagine any DOJ policy was violated here,” Miller added.

To be sure, there’s no blanket policy that applies in all cases. It’s always a judgment call. But Miller said that in the case of the Clinton emails, the balance of harms clearly dictates in favor of a delay, in part because nothing would have been lost by waiting.

“Three weeks in a criminal investigation where there’s no statute of limitations issue and people’s lives are not in danger is a nanosecond,” Miller added. There’s no DOJ policy, he said, requiring the FBI to “drop everything to turn to a non-time-sensitive issue like reviewing another batch of emails in an investigation.”

Breaking from this cautious precedent can have disastrous consequences, as McCabe’s former boss James Comey learned. The former FBI director became a lightning rod for criticism after first announcing in a July 2016 press conference that the Clinton email probe would end with no charges, then telling Congress less than two weeks before the election that the new batch of emails had been discovered on the laptop of Anthony Weiner, then the husband of Clinton’s top aide, Huma Abedin. The FBI was at the time probing whether Weiner engaged in sexual relationships online with minors.

Comey himself testified before Congress that it made him “mildly nauseous” to think his actions could have affected the results of the election. Poll analysis site 538 determined that Clinton’s standing in the narrow election plummeting 2.9 points in the week after Comey’s letter to Congress came out.

The former FBI director’s disclosures “never should have happened,” Nick Akerman, a former federal prosecutor who worked on the Watergate investigation, told TPM.

Indeed, it was Comey’s extraordinary departure from regular procedure that appears to have prompted the January 2017 launch of Inspector General Michael Horowitz’s probe in the first place. But the wide-ranging probe turned up the text message exchange between two FBI employees that Republicans have used to claim an anti-Trump plot at the bureau. The Post report suggests that McCabe’s handling of the Clinton emails has since also become a major focus.

That points to another reason why McCabe may have had good reason to fear influencing the election. Comey’s decision ultimately to disclose the emails to Congress reportedly came after FBI agents in the New York office exerted pressure to get the news out. Pushing forward with the investigation, McCabe may reasonably have felt, could have made it more likely that the news leaked out.

And as the Post notes, McCabe also appears to have wanted to make sure the emails were relevant to the Clinton probe—which they turned out not to be

“The agents on the Weiner case wanted to talk to the Clinton email investigators and see whether the messages were potentially important,” the Post reports. “Some people familiar with the matter said officials at FBI headquarters asked the New York agents to analyze the emails’ metadata—the sender, recipient and times of the messages—to see whether they seemed relevant to the closed probe.”

But much of the coverage of the story has downplayed those explanations and instead left the impression that McCabe likely acted improperly.

A CNN host on Wednesday morning flatly asserted that the IG report shows McCabe “sat on” the emails—in fact, the report hasn’t been released yet—then asked: “Was he slow-walking this investigation leading up to the election? And that would matter a lot.”

A short time later, another host on the network, Brianna Keilar, asked Rep. Mike Quigley (D-IL) whether the House Intelligence Committee should probe the matter.

Akerman, the former Watergate prosecutor, told TPM it was perfectly reasonable for the IG to look into the delay. But he suggested Comey’s actions should be the primary focus of the investigation.

“They should never have done it at that late stage,” Akerman said of the former FBI director’s October 2016 pronouncement. “Basically every reason why you don’t do it came out here—exactly the wrong way.”

Read the latest editor’s brief (Prime access) on this story »


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The White House is no longer acting like it plans to give a shady intelligence memo put together by House Intel Chairman Devin Nunes a thorough review before deciding whether to publicly release it.

On Fox News Radio Wednesday morning, President Trump’s chief of staff, John Kelly said that the four-page memo “will be released here pretty quick.” He said White House lawyers are currently examining it “so that we know what it means and what it understands.”

But his remarks suggested its release was a matter of when, not if.

“This president, again, it’s so unique that he wants everything out so the American people can make up their own minds and if there’s people to be held accountable, then so be it,” Kelly said.

Kelly’s comment comes after Trump himself, as he exited his State of the Union  Tuesday night, was picked up on hot mic telling a Republican lawmaker, “Don’t worry, 100 percent,” when asked about releasing the memo.

Just prior to Trump’s speech, White House aides had told reporters that Trump had not yet read the memo. Administration aides had told CBS News earlier Tuesday that representatives from the Department of Justice, the FBI, the National Security Agency and the Office of the Director of National Intelligence were all involved in review that would produce a recommendation from the White House counsel’s office as to whether it should be released.

Republicans have been hyping the four-page memo as evidence of misconduct by the FBI over the course of its Russia probe. Democrats have said that its misleading, but that because the underlying intelligence is classified, it will be difficult to provide to the public a full rebuttal to its claims. Nonetheless, they have compiled a counter-memo offering more context that they hope to release in the days to come. House Intel Republicans blocked their move to release both memos at the same time.

FBI Director Christopher Wray has also communicated to the White House that the memo is inaccurate and misleading in its claims, according to Bloomberg.

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As House Republicans prepare to release a four-page memo they claim shows the Justice Department misbehaved in seeking to surveil a Trump campaign adviser, the allegations are already drawing extreme skepticism and outright mockery from former government officials and outside experts.

“None of those pushing this are in any other way acting like they believe what they’re saying,” Julian Sanchez, a senior fellow at the Cato Institute, told TPM.

“You just have this wider and wider net: they all perjured themselves, they all opened themselves to criminal liability,” former FBI counterintelligence agent Asha Rangappa said, referring to the allegations against the FBI. “It makes no sense.”

“It suggests to me that the goal here is not expose a scandal, but the goal is to impugn the credibility of the relevant actors and to satisfy an existing narrative,” said Stephen Vladeck, a University of Texas law professor who specializes in national security issues.

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Bloomberg reported Monday that President Trump exploded in anger at a statement from the Justice Department warning that it would be “extraordinarily reckless” to publicize what’s come to be known as the Nunes memo without a security review. In response, White House Chief of Staff John Kelly conveyed Trump’s anger to Justice Department officials and “lectured them on the White House’s expectations,” according to the report.

Those contacts by Kelly may have violated at least the spirit and perhaps the letter of the Trump administration’s own guidelines regulating communications between the White House and DOJ.

Discussions between Kelly and Justice Department officials related to “a criminal and counterintelligence investigation in which the White House and President have equities and a conflict of interest” would be strictly off limits, Andy Wright, associate White House counsel to President Barack Obama, told TPM.

The guidelines aim to create a firewall between the two bodies regarding ongoing criminal investigations—particularly those that involve the current administration. The possibility that they were breached is just the latest step in the ongoing politicization of federal law enforcement under Trump. 

Since the Watergate era, incoming administrations have generally laid out updated guidelines regulating contact between the White House and Justice Department. The policy issued by White House Counsel Don McGahn in January 2017 limits communications to the DOJ to the President, Vice President, and White House counsel.

Those three principals are allowed to “designate subordinates” to communicate with similarly designated counterparts at the DOJ. But all such contacts “should be handled in conjunction with a representative of the Counsel’s office,” per McGahn’s instructions.

And the communications are supposed to be limited, with few exceptions, to matters of national security or cases in which the DOJ is defending the administration’s policies, as TPM has previously reported.

“The channel [of communications] is supposed to go through or at least be monitored by the White House counsel’s office in order to monitor the substance,” Wright said. “There is no business for the White House Chief of Staff to be calling in when the department is making a decision that relates to both a counterintelligence and criminal investigation. The DOJ determined that [releasing the memo] would be damaging to government interests.”

Matt Miller, who served as a spokesman for the Justice Department during the Obama administration, said the policy “is set up to allow some flexibility,” but that its spirit has gone unchanged across different administrations.

“The thing that’s always contemplated in these rules is that the White House and Justice Department will in no event ever talk about investigations that impact the White House,” said Miller. “That isn’t spelled out explicitly in the rules but that’s why these contact policies exist—because of all the pressure Nixon put on his DOJ” during Watergate.

Saikrishna Prakash, an expert on the separation of powers at University of Virginia Law School, cautioned in a phone interview that there were not enough publicly available details regarding Kelly’s contacts to know if he had violated the letter of the contact policy. If Kelly’s outreach was approved by McGahn or if a member of the White House counsel office had listened in, Prakash said, it could technically be acceptable.

But Wright pointed out that sharing the President’s personal opinion on an issue stemming from an open criminal investigation would undercut the entire reason such policies existed.

As McGahn’s own guidelines note: “In order to ensure that DOJ exercises its investigatory and prosecutorial functions free from the fact or appearance of improper political influence, these rules must be strictly followed.”

The White House did not respond to TPM’s inquiry about whether anyone in the White House Counsel’s office had any oversight over Kelly’s conversations. The Justice Department declined to comment on the record.

Kelly’s reported contacts are part of a pattern of White House attempts to tilt the scale in the Russia probe. That pattern also includes Trump’s own public comments, tweets, and previous reports of inappropriate contact between other White House officials and the DOJ.

Kenneth Starr, the former independent counsel who led investigations into President Bill Clinton, laid out the principle in a Washington Post op-ed last summer.

“The attorney general’s client is ultimately ‘We the People,’” Starr wrote, “and his fidelity has to be not to the president but to the Constitution and other laws of the United States.”

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The news that the controversial Nunes memo accuses Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein of misconduct underscores a crucial but often overlooked reality about Robert Mueller’s investigation of Russian influence in the election: If Mueller decides that President Donald Trump obstructed justice or otherwise broke the law — and such would have quite a bit of evidence — he may well still need Rosenstein’s sign-off to do anything about it.

The pivotal position Rosenstein occupies may help explain the determination of many Trump loyalists in and out of Congress to release the Nunes memo. Rosenstein has been facing calls since last year to step down or recuse himself from the Mueller probe — and his replacement would likely be a Trump loyalist. That means that if Rosenstein is forced out and a Trump loyalist takes his place, the move could neuter the Mueller probe.

At the heart of the issue are limits on the powers of the special counsel. Many legal scholars believe a sitting president can’t be criminally indicted, meaning that if Mueller finds evidence of crimes by Trump, his strongest recourse might well be to make a referral to Congress for potential impeachment proceedings. But some of those experts tell TPM that under the regulation governing the special counsel’s office, Mueller lacks the authority to make that referral without approval from Justice Department officials overseeing his investigation.

After Kenneth Starr’s pursuit of Bill Clinton, Congress changed the laws governing special investigations in 1999: No longer could a three-judge panel appoint an “independent counsel” acting with no direct DOJ oversight. Instead, the decision to appoint a “special counsel” had to be made by the attorney general. In Mueller’s case, Attorney General Jeff Sessions recused himself, because of meetings he had held with the Russian ambassador, leaving Rosenstein to appoint and manage Mueller and his probe.

“Those regulations don’t explicitly give the special counsel authority to make a referral,” William Yeomans, a 26-year DOJ veteran who has served as an acting assistant attorney general and is now a fellow at the Alliance for Justice, told TPM. “If there is a referral, it’s going to have to go through Rosenstein. Ultimately, it’s probably his decision.”

Susan Low Bloch, professor of constitutional law at Georgetown Law School, agreed. “Rosenstein decides what to do, and if he sees an impeachable offense I would say that he should send it to Congress,” she said in a phone interview on Monday. “But if he chooses not to, I don’t think you can do anything.”

If Rosenstein is fired or steps down, Trump would appoint his successor. And if Rosenstein recuses himself, the ranking official in the department of justice (DOJ) would be Rachel Brand, a Republican legal operative who worked in the George W. Bush White House*. Brand then would decide whether or not to send Mueller probe’s findings against the president, if any, to the House.

The memo, authored by the office of Rep. Devin Nunes (R-Calif.), reportedly claims Rosenstein approved an FBI application to a secret court administering the foreign intelligence surveillance act (FISA). The application sought a warrant that reportedly was used to eavesdrop on Trump campaign staffer Carter Page, who has a web of ties to Russia. The memo says the application failed to tell the judge that it relied on a controversial intelligence dossier compiled by former British spy Christopher Steele.

As early as last June, Sean Hannity of Fox News, a key Trump defender, called on Rosenstein, along with Mueller, to resign, and Trump expressed displeasure with him in an interview with the Times where he expressed suspicion over Rosenstein’s background in historically Democratic Baltimore. CNN reported that Trump had threatened to fire Rosenstein in private over the weekend: “[L]et’s fire him, let’s get rid of him,” advisors told the network Trump had said, though they characterized the outbursts as “mostly bluster” according to the report. Rosenstein himself has threatened to quit in response to efforts by Trump to pin the blame on him for the firing of Jim Comey, the former FBI director.

Further complicating the situation is the fact that Rosenstein is a potential witness to an obstruction of justice case against Trump. Rosenstein wrote the memo justifying Comey’s dismissal, which appears to have misrepresented Trump’s reasons for getting rid of him: The memo said Trump fired Comey because Comey publicly released details of the FBI’s investigation of Hillary Clinton — less than a month later, Trump told NBC that he fired Comey because he thought the Russia investigation was bogus. In the interim,  the White House tried to pin the firing on Rosenstein himself, who reportedly threatened to resign in protest

As a result, Yeomans said Rosenstein should recuse himself from the probe.

“One of the principles of the Justice Department is that you can’t supervise an investigation in which you are a witness,” Yeomans said. “Rosenstein has been the man in the spotlight. Mueller may want to keep him there, I don’t know, but it’s clear that he’s key to the investigation.”

What’s also clear is that the question of Rosenstein’s job security is crucial — and it underscores how much is at stake in the Republican effort to use the Nunes memo to discredit him.


Correction: Because of an editing error, this story originally reported that Rachel Brand is perceived as a Trump loyalist. In fact, there’s no evidence for that characterization of Brand’s views.

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A Democratic-aligned group filed a complaint Monday with the Federal Election Commission asking for a comprehensive probe into whether the NRA received money from Russian nationals to help Donald Trump, in violation of campaign finance laws.

“A foreign agent illegally laundering millions of foreign dollars to influence an American election in support of then candidate Donald Trump is absolutely an issue for the Federal Election Commission to take up,” American Legal Democracy Fund (ALDF) treasurer Brad Woodhouse, a former DNC spokesman, said in a statement. “We expect the FEC to get to the bottom of this issue swiftly and deliver the results of a thorough investigation to the American people.”

The group’s complaint is based on a recent McClatchy story reporting that the FBI is investigating whether a Russian banker close to both President Vladimir Putin and the NRA gave money to the gun group’s dark money arm.

NRA spokesman Andrew Arulanandam told TPM late last week that the organization “has not been contacted by the FBI or any other investigative body.”

A spokeswoman for the FEC, Judith Ingram, said that the commission could not offer comment on pending complaints beyond confirming their receipt. Ingram said the ALDF’s complaint had not yet been received by mid-afternoon on Monday.

According to McClatchy, the FBI wants to know whether Alexander Torshin, a Russian central bank official and lifetime NRA member, funneled donations to the NRA. The complaint notes an extensive web of ties between Torshin, his deputy Maria Butina, and bigwigs at the NRA.

TPM has reported at length on those connections. 

The complaint casts a wide net, asking the FEC to investigate “any additional coordination between Respondents and foreign nationals in connection with the 2016 presidential election” and that the “maximum fines permitted by law” be leveled if the commission finds evidence that the NRA accepted illegal foreign contributions.

Read the full document below.

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The White House is going to war with the U.S. Justice Department over whether to release a sensitive classified memo that many Republicans say shines a light on improper conduct by the Justice Department, but which hasn’t been vetted by the intelligence community.

The Trump administration is backing the dozens of congressional Republicans who claim the memo, crafted by House Intelligence Committee Chairman Devin Nunes (R-CA), must be made public to ensure full transparency. But the Justice Department has said it would be “extraordinarily reckless” to surface a document based on classified information without the intelligence community’s sign-off. In response, the White House has said DoJ has no role in the process.

The open split would be remarkable in any context. That the Justice Department under Trump has often appeared willing to act in the president’s political interest only makes it more so.

President Trump dispatched his Chief of Staff John Kelly last week to personally inform Attorney General Jeff Sessions that the administration wanted the memo to be made public, according to the Washington Post. The two conversations that Kelly and Sessions had last Wednesday came the same day that a Trump appointee at the Justice Department released a letter chastising Nunes for rejecting FBI Director Christopher Wray’s “personal appeal” to review the document.

“We believe it would be extraordinarily reckless for the Committee to disclose such information publicly without giving the Department and the FBI the opportunity to review the memorandum and to advise [the House Intelligence Committee] of the risk of harm to national security and to ongoing investigations that would come from public release,” Assistant Attorney General Stephen Boyd wrote.

DOJ spokeswoman Sara Isgur Flores, another political appointee, added the next day in a rare cable news appearance that the department needed to see any alleged “evidence of wrongdoing” in order to “hold people responsible for it.”

Fox News reported that Wray was finally permitted to go to the Capitol on Sunday to review the document, and requested that his staffers be allowed “to take a look at it.”

White House legislative affairs director Marc Short characterized the intelligence community’s concerns as “rational,” acknowledging that he personally does not know what the memo contains, in an interview on “Fox News Sunday.” Still, he said, Trump “generally sides on the side of transparency” and wants the document released.

On Monday morning, White House spokesman Raj Shah said that the Oval Office would conduct a national security review of the document to determine if it could be released to the broader public, explicitly dismissing the DOJ’s role in vetting the document.

“The constitutional process as laid out involves the House of Representatives, the House Intelligence Committee and the White House and the President of the United States. The Department of Justice doesn’t have a role in this process,” Shah said on CNN.

The issue of the memo’s release is rapidly coming to a head. Republicans on the committee are expected to vote as early as Monday on the memo’s release, taking advantage of an obscure House rule that allows the intelligence committee to release classified information determined to be in the public interest.

The final decision to make the memo public would then rest with the President.

The memo reportedly shows that Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein last March approved the extension of a surveillance order for Trump campaign adviser Carter Page. The memo reportedly criticizes department officials for failing to inform a Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court judge that the warrant was based in part on the so-called “Trump-Russia dossier” compiled by a former British spy. Some Republicans call that proof of anti-Trump bias at the DOJ.

Democrats have dismissed the memo as a “conspiracy theory” that misrepresents the underlying evidence on which it is based. National security experts have also sounded off against the memo’s conclusions, saying the warrant’s 90-day extension would only be approved if enough new evidence had surfaced from Dec. 2016 to March 2017 to justify its renewal.

Nunes’ history of misinterpreting intelligence in order to defend the Trump White House from the Russia investigation and his refusal to allow Senate Intelligence Committee Chairman Richard Burr (R-NV) to view the document has fueled the assessment that it is being used for partisan purposes.

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Trump Lawyer John Dowd Resigns

John Dowd, an attorney on President Donald Trump’s outside legal team handling the Russia…