FBI and White House clash as memo inflames tensions

Donald Trump authorises release of document alleging bias in Russia investigation

President Donald Trump said the contents of a controversial Republican memo tell a disgraceful story and that "a lot of people should be ashamed." Video: Reuters

 

US president Donald Trump defied the advice of US intelligence agencies by authorising the release of a controversial memo alleging FBI bias in the Russia investigation, inflaming tensions between the White House and the FBI.

In an unprecedented move, the House Intelligence Committee released a four-page memo alleging that the FBI did not fully disclose to a court that some of the information it used to justify surveillance of former Trump aide Carter Page had been financed by Democrats.

The allegations have been seized by Mr Trump and his supporters as evidence of anti-Trump bias at the FBI.

The publication of the memo immediately raised questions about the future of deputy attorney general Rod Rosenstein after Mr Trump failed to express confidence in him. Asked yesterday if he had confidence in Mr Rosenstein – the man who appointed special counsel Robert Mueller – Mr Trump said, “You figure that one out.”

Mr Rosenstein was named in the memo as one of several law enforcement officials who signed off on court applications seeking to extend FBI surveillance of Mr Page.

Read the full memo

Political gain

The FBI and Democrats have reacted with fury to the publication of the memo, arguing that it is putting classified information in the public arena for the sake of political gain.

But Republicans cheered the release of the memo, claiming it is a civil liberties issue and not about discrediting the FBI.

The White House defended the publication, stating the memo raises “serious concerns about the integrity of decisions made at the highest levels of the department of justice and the FBI to use the government’s most intrusive surveillance tools against American citizens”.

Confirming his decision to declassify the document, Mr Trump said it was a “disgrace what’s going on in this country”.

“A lot of people should be ashamed of themselves,” he said.

Earlier in the day, he accused the FBI of being politicised. “Top Leadership and Investigators of the FBI and the Justice Department have politicised the sacred investigative process in favour of Democrats and against Republicans,” he said on Twitter.

The conflict between the US president and intelligence services takes place as an ongoing special investigation into possible ties between the Trump campaign team and Russia continues. Four individuals connected with the Trump campaign have already been charged as part of the probe.