House of Representatives committee votes to make public Democrat memo

Trump lambasts leading Democrat on House of Representatives intelligence committee

US president Donald Trump delivers a speech on tax reform in Ohio on Monday. Photograph: Jonathan Ernst/Reuters

US president Donald Trump delivers a speech on tax reform in Ohio on Monday. Photograph: Jonathan Ernst/Reuters

 

The US House of Representatives intelligence committee voted unanimously on Monday to make public a classified Democratic memorandum challenging a Republican-authored memo of last week criticising the FBI.

The vote gives US president Donald Trump five days to review the Democratic memo and determine whether he will try to block its release.

Democrats argue that a currently published 3½-page memo, which was compiled by Republican aides to the committee chairman Devin Nunes, is misleading and selectively draws on information provided to the committee by intelligence agencies about their investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election.

Mr Trump authorised the release of that disputed memo on Friday. The memo claims that the FBI did not inform a federal court when it sought to extend the surveillance of the former Trump aide, Carter Page, and that some of the information it was using to justify the application was based on research originally commissioned by Democrats.

Trump tweet

In a tweet on Monday, Mr Trump lambasted Mr Schiff.

“Little Adam Schiff, who is desperate to run for higher office, is one of the biggest liars and leakers in Washington, right up there with Comey, Warner, Brennan and Clapper!,” he wrote, referring to the former FBI chief and other top law-enforcement officials. “Adam leaves closed committee hearings to illegally leak confidential information. Must be stopped!”

In a separate tweet Mr Trump praised committee chair Mr Nunes, who was involved in the president’s own election campaign. “Representative Devin Nunes, a man of tremendous courage and grit, may someday be recognized as a Great American Hero for what he has exposed and what he has had to endure!,” the president said.

Over the weekend Mr Trump said he had been vindicated by the memo, dismissing the Russian investigation as a “witch hunt”. “This memo totally vindicates ‘Trump’ in probe,” he wrote on Twitter. “But the Russian Witch Hunt goes on and on. Their was no Collusion and there was no Obstruction,” he wrote, adding: “This is an American disgrace!”

Mr Trump, who travelled to Ohio for a rally on Monday, touted the benefits of the Republican-authored tax reform package, claiming the legislation represented “the biggest tax cuts and reforms in American history”.

Market volatility

But his remarks were delivered against a background of chaotic trading in the markets and steep falls in stocks. The Dow Jones had fallen by as much as 4.5 per cent by mid-afternoon on Monday on Wall Street, the second consecutive trading day of falls.  The volatility in the markets took place as Jerome Powell was officially sworn in as the new head of the Federal Reserve, replacing Janet Yellen. Among the worries preoccupying investors is that the US could be heading into a period of rising interest rates as the Fed tries to slow down the country’s economy.

Meanwhile, negotiations were continuing on Capitol Hill ahead of Thursday’s deadline to reach a deal on immigration as part of an agreement to avoid another government shutdown.

Two senators – Democrat Chris Coons and Republican John McCain – brought forward a Bill which they say offers a bipartisan solution. The Bill would grant permanent legal status to “Dreamers” (young people who were brought to the US illegally by their parents) while also improving security along the US-Mexico border. However, the Bill would not automatically authorise funding for Mr Trump’s border wall.

The next short-term spending deadline occurs at midnight on Thursday, while the end of the Daca programme, which protects Dreamers from deportation, is scheduled for March 5th.

But in a sign of the difficulties ahead for Congress as they try to strike a compromise on immigration, Mr Trump tweeted on Monday: “Any deal on DACA that does not include STRONG border security and the desperately needed WALL is a total waste of time . . . March 5th is rapidly approaching and the Dems seem not to care about DACA. Make a deal!”