House panel releases GOP memo about Trump-Russia probe, over FBI and DOJ objections

Key Points
  • The House Intelligence Committee releases the memo that alleges anti-Trump bias in the investigation over Russian meddling in the 2016 presidential election.
  • Trump declassified the memo and sent it to the committee for release.
  • The FBI and the Justice Department had objected to releasing the memo, which was written by Rep. Devin Nunes, R-Calif., a former Trump transition official.
House releases declassified Nunes memo
House releases declassified Nunes memo

The House Intelligence Committee on Friday released the once-classified memo that alleges anti-Trump bias in an investigation over Russian meddling in the 2016 presidential election.

President Donald Trump declassified the memo Friday. Both the FBI and the Justice Department had objected to its release of the document, which was assembled by Committee Chairman Devin Nunes. The California Republican also worked on President Donald Trump's transition team.

The House panel voted along party lines this week to approve releasing the memo to Trump and then to the public.

Read the full text of the memo here

Democrats have said the memo paints an inaccurate picture. The House intelligence panel voted against the release of a competing memo, drafted by ranking Democrat Rep. Adam Schiff of California.

The White House addressed the possibility of releasing the Democrats' memo.

"Minority members of the Committee have reportedly drafted a separate memorandum," press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders said in a statement. "The Administration stands ready to work with Congress to accommodate oversight requests consistent with applicable standards, including the need to protect intelligence sources and methods."

A former high-ranking law enforcement official, who asked not to be named, told CNBC that the Republican memo wasn't "earth shattering" and that "we need to see another side of the story."

"Did they put everything they know in this memo? I doubt it," the official said. "The politics around this are driving everyone crazy."

The president declassified the document in full, with no redactions, the White House said. Trump later told reporters that he had sent the memo to Congress and that "we'll see what happens" with what the House intelligence panel decides to do.

"I think it's a disgrace what's happening in our country," Trump said. "A lot of people should be ashamed of themselves."

White House: Nunes memo has been declassified
White House: Nunes memo has been declassified

Nunes said in a statement Friday that he hopes the release will "shine a light on this alarming series of events so we can make reforms that allow the American people to have full faith and confidence in their governing institutions."

The memo suggests that a dossier assembled by former British spy Christopher Steele — which included salacious allegations about Trump's dealings with Russia — was used as evidence for an application to extend surveillance against former Trump advisor Carter Page. One former high-ranking law-enforcement official, however, told CNBC that it's "just not credible" that the Steele dossier served as the only source for the extension as "these applications always cite multiple reasons for surveillance."

Attorney General Jeff Sessions said Friday afternoon that he would forward the information from the memo to "appropriate" components of the Justice Department, although he offered some words of encouragement to his staff.

"I have great confidence in the men and women of this Department," said Sessions, whom Trump has criticized for recusing himself form the Russia probe. "But no Department is perfect."

FBI Director Christopher Wray and Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein, who oversees special counsel Robert Mueller's Russia probe, had appealed to the White House not to declassify the memo. The FBI has said it has "grave concerns" about the accuracy of the document.

The FBI Agents Association on Friday said in a statement that agents "have not, and will not, allow partisan politics to distract us from our solemn commitment to our mission."

The men and women of the FBI put their lives on the line every day in the fight against terrorists and criminals because of their dedication to our country and the Constitution. The American people should know that they continue to be well-served by the world's preeminent law enforcement agency. FBI Special Agents have not, and will not, allow partisan politics to distract us from our solemn commitment to our mission.

Sen. John McCain of Arizona, who is a frequent critic of Trump's, also weighed in Friday, saying attacks on the FBI and the Justice Department "serve no American interests – no party's, no president's, only Putin's."

Trump has repeatedly denied accusations of collusion with Russia during the campaign.

The president, in a Friday morning tweet, continued his assault on the nation's top law-enforcement officials, accusing leadership in the FBI and Justice Department of politicizing "the sacred investigative process in favor of Democrats and against Republicans."

CNBC's Eamon Javers and Kevin Breuninger contributed to this report.