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Release of memo on FBI surveillance fuels distrust

The Republican memo raises "serious concerns" about the integrity of decisions made at highest level in the Justice Department and FBI, the White House has said.

Release of memo on FBI surveillance fuels distrust
The White House


A GOP (Republican) memo declassified has accused senior law enforcement officials of misleading a court in order to conduct surveillance on a former US President Donald Trump campaign adviser.
The release of memo on Friday has fuelled a growing distrust between the White House and Republicans on one side and the Justice Department and Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) on the other, The Washington Post reported.
The four-page document, which the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) said is inaccurate, had been the focus of weeks of partisan fights leading up to its release by Republicans on the House Intelligence Committee, and that acrimony intensified after its publication on Friday.
"I think it's a disgrace what's happening in our country," Trump told reporters in the Oval Office.
"A lot of people should be ashamed of themselves, and much worse than that."
Publicly, the FBI said nothing but Director Christopher A. Wray sent out a video and written statement to employees, urging them not to get distracted by the debate raging about them.
"The American people read the papers, and they hear lots of talk on cable TV and social media. But they see and experience the actual work you do - keeping communities safe and our nation secure, often dealing with sensitive matters and making decisions under difficult circumstances," Wray said.
"And that work will always matter more. Talk is cheap; the work you do is what will endure."
The four-page memo, written by House Republicans, said its findings "raise concerns with the legitimacy and legality of certain (Justice Department) and FBI interactions with the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court (FISC)," which authorizes surveillance of individuals believed to be agents of foreign powers.
The memo cites "a troubling breakdown of legal processes established to protect the American people from abuses related to the FISA process," a reference to the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act.
The memo alleges that a surveillance warrant was obtained and renewed on a former Trump campaign adviser, Carter Page, with information from an individual with an anti-Trump agenda.
And Republicans have charged that the warrant taints the origins of special counsel Robert S. Mueller III's investigation into possible coordination between Trump associates and agents of the Russian government during the 2016 campaign.
It is unclear whether Trump will use the memo to fire people involved in the Russia probe, including Deputy Attorney General Rod J. Rosenstein, who oversees it. Asked Friday by a reporter whether he was more likely to fire Rosenstein after the release of the memo and whether he had confidence in him, Trump replied: "You figure that one out."
Democrats warned against any dismissals at the Justice Department, saying such moves would trigger a constitutional crisis.
Matthew Olsen, a former Justice Department official who used to oversee the FISA process, called the memo "a transparently political, amateurish effort" that does not raise meaningful legal questions about the application to surveil page.
"Not only does it not undermine the basis for the surveillance, but it reinforced that there was real merit and foundation for the application, because this application was approved and renewed multiple times," he said.

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