President Donald Trump on Friday authorized the release of a controversial memo that reportedly accuses the FBI of abusing its surveillance powers in its investigation into whether Trump’s presidential campaign colluded in Russian election meddling.
The memo is expected to become public later on Friday.
The memo, which follows an investigation directed by Republican House Intelligence Committee chairman Devin Nunes of California, has been touted by Republican lawmakers and conservative media figures as confirmation of supposed political bias against Trump among the country’s top law enforcement officials. Trump’s own FBI and Justice Department have warned that releasing the memo would be “reckless,” and Democrats have painted it as a misleadingly cherry-picked reading of the facts without context.
Not all Republicans are clamoring for its release. Here’s what the GOP dissenters are saying.
Sen. Jeff Flake of Arizona
Jeff Flake, the maverick junior Senator from Arizona and frequent Trump critic who is not seeking reelection, released a joint statement Thursday with Delaware Democratic Sen. Chris Coons, urging Trump not to allow the release of the memo.
“President Trump should heed the warnings of the Justice Department and FBI, and reverse his reported decision to defy longstanding policies regarding the disclosure of classified information,” Flake and Coons said. “The president’s apparent willingness to release this memo risks undermining U.S. intelligence-gathering efforts, politicizing Congress’ oversight role, and eroding confidence in our institutions of government.”
Sen. John Thune of South Dakota
John Thune — who, as chair of the Senate Republican Conference, is the third-ranking GOP Senator — urged his party to proceed with caution on the memo in remarks made to reporters on Thursday.
“I think the Senate Intelligence Committee needs to see it, for sure,” Thune said, in remarks reported by The Hill. “There are important national security considerations they need to weigh, and hopefully they’re doing that.”
Sen. Lindsey Graham of South Carolina
In an interview with ABC News’ This Week, Graham said that the memo warranted greater scrutiny before its release.
“I want somebody outside of the Republican-led Congress to look at the allegations,” Graham said. “I’m not asking that Lindsey Graham be the final arbiter of whether the F.B.I. and D.O.J. were off-base. [But] no, I don’t want it released yet.”
Rep. Charlie Dent of Pennsylvania
Speaking with a reporter from NBC News at the annual Republican retreat in West Virginia, Dent suggested that releasing the memo could jeopardize intelligence security.
“We run the risk of exposing some sensitive sources and methods,” Dent told NBC News. “I read the memos… and I would rather not release them.”
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