US lawmakers vote to release memo on Russian probe

Washington: The House Intelligence Committee has voted to make public a Republican memo that reportedly shows abuses by the FBI and Department of Justice in launching the Russia probe against US President Donald Trump.

Disregarding DoJ’s warnings that the action would be “extraordinarily reckless”, the Republicans voted on Monday, hours ahead of Trump’s State of the Union address, to release the “contentious secret memorandum”.

The memo is said “to accuse the Justice Department and the Federal Bureau of Investigation of misusing their authority to obtain a secret surveillance order on a former Trump campaign associate”, the New York Post said.

Democrats tried to block the release of the “reckless political document aimed at protecting Trump”, the New York Times reported.

However, Republicans argued the public should see how the Russia probe into the President’s campaign was tainted from the start.

They invoked a power never before used by the secretive committee to effectively declassify the memo that they had compiled.

It was an extraordinary manoeuvre, cheered on by Trump, who has repeatedly dismissed the Russia probe as a “witch hunt” and a sham, the Times said.

Republican Peter King, who moved the motion, said: “These were very serious errors. With respect to FISA (Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act), there have been abusesÂ….”

“It was important we looked at everything involving the 2016 campaign and part of it is the conduct of the FBI and the Department of Justice,” King added.

Under procedural rules, Trump now has five days to decide whether to release the private memo to the American people. The White House signalled Trump would have no objections.

“We want full transparency,” White House Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders said.

The Justice Department, however, said the release of the classified material would be “extraordinarily reckless”.

The Democrats wanted their own counter memo released, but the GOP controlled committee only allowed it to be released to Congress to review.

The Democrats called the three-and-a-half-page document a “dangerous effort to build a narrative to undercut” the department’s continuing Russia probe, “using cherry-picked facts assembled with little or no context”.

Democrat Nancy Pelosi said: “Clearly, House Republicans’ desire to protect Trump has clouded their judgment and caused them to lose sight of what’s at stake: the security and integrity of our elections.”

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