UPDATE at 12:39 p.m.: Well, that was fast. Mere minutes after the White House confirmed the president had declassified the controversial GOP memo that purports to detail abuse of the FBI’s surveillance power, the House Intelligence Committee went forward with the unprecedented move of publishing the document.
In an illustration of just how much interest the memo has garnered over the past few weeks as it emerged as the latest flashpoint between Democrats and Republicans over alleged Russian involvement in the 2017 presidential campaign, the House of Representatives website that first hosted the document quickly crashed.
Original post at 12:22 p.m.: As had been widely expected, President Donald Trump approved the release Friday of the controversial Republican memo that claims wrongdoing by top FBI officials in their surveillance of the Trump campaign for president. The memo was declassified without any redactions, laying the groundwork for the House Intelligence Committee to release the document, a move that is expected later on Friday.
Speaking to reporters at the Oval Office shortly after the declassification, Trump said the memo is “a disgrace” and shows, “a lot of people should be ashamed of themselves—and much worse than that.” Trump noted it was up to lawmakers what happens next. “The memo was sent to Congress, it was declassified. Congress will do whatever they’re going to do,” he said. “But I think it’s a disgrace what’s happening in our country.” Trump added: “Let’s see what happens.”
Trump decided to release the memo despite the strong objections from both the FBI and the Justice Department. The FBI had gone as far as to release a statement saying it was “gravely concerned” that the memo painted a misleading and inaccurate picture of its activities.
The commander in chief seemed to lay the groundwork for the release of the memo Friday morning when he took to Twitter to criticize leaders at the FBI and the Justice Department for their supposed bias in favor of Democrats and against Republicans. The president’s words seemed to contradict House Speaker Paul Ryan who had earlier said that the memo “is not an indictment of the FBI or the Department of Justice.”