The FBI has “grave concerns” about a controversial GOP-penned memo that alleges political bias within the bureau, officials said on Wednesday.
House Republicans have voted to make the memo public despite protestations from the Justice Department and other officials.
The FBI, in a a rare and sharply-worded statement, said there are concerns “about material omissions of fact that fundamentally impact the memo’s accuracy.”
FBI director Christopher Wray also told the Trump administration he opposes the release of the memo after reviewing the document over the weekend.
But the White House edged closer to releasing the information on Wednesday, according to chief of staff John Kelly.
“It will be released here pretty quick, I think, and then the whole world can see it,” Kelly said during an interview on Fox News Radio. “This President wants everything out so the American people can make up their own minds.”
President Trump was overheard Tuesday at his State of the Union telling a Republican lawmaker that he is “100%” behind releasing the four-page memo crafted by Trump ally Rep. Devin Nunes (R-Calif.).
Several Democrats who have seen the information dismissed it as bunk and top Justice officials have said releasing it would be dangerous.
Rep. Adam Schiff, the top-ranking Democrat on the House intelligence committee, said Wednesday there is nothing in the memo on the Russia investigation that vindicates Trump.
He added that Nunes is pushing a “misleading narrative” to undermine the FBI and special counsel Robert Mueller, who is investigating Russian meddling in the 2016 election and whether Trump’s campaign was involved.
“This is not about the facts,” Schiff said.
The House intelligence committee voted along party lines on Monday to release the document and the White House is now reviewing whether it should be made public.
Trump has five days to make a decision.
White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders said that the President had not read the memo “as of last night prior to and immediately after the State of the Union.”
Republicans contend the memo reveals improper use of surveillance by the FBI and the Justice Department in the probe into Trump associates.
On Tuesday, House Speaker Paul Ryan said that the memo shows “there may have been malfeasance at the FBI by certain individuals,” but did not provide details.
“There are legitimate questions about whether an American’s civil liberties were violated by the FISA process,” he said, referencing the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act.
It’s unclear how potential bias at the FBI could have resulted in a judge signing off on a FISA warrant.
But the bureau defended its procedures on Wednesday.
“The FBI takes seriously its obligations to the FISA Court and its compliance with procedures overseen by career professionals in the Department of Justice and the FBI,” the agency said. “We are committed to working with the appropriate oversight entities to ensure the continuing integrity of the FISA process.”
Applications for such warrants are submitted by Justice Department lawyers before a judge of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court.
Those lawyers would have to authorize and ultimately prepare any filing that is made.
“FISA warrants typically are big thick documents, 50-60 pages. If the Nunes memo about one is just 4 pages, you can bet it’s a carefully picked bowl of cherries,” former deputy director of the CIA John McLaughlin tweeted on Wednesday.