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17.33 2 Feb 2018


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Updated 19:10

US President Donald Trump has approved the release of a secret Republican memo, that reportedly alleges FBI abuse of power.

The memo was immediately released to the public by Republicans on the House of Representatives Intelligence Committee.

It relates to the manner in which the FBI conducted its inquiry into alleged Russian meddling in US elections.

The memo - which was prepared by the office of House Intelligence Committee chairman Devin Nunes - raises concerns over the surveillance of former Trump campaign adviser Carter Page.

The intelligence community and some Democrat politicians had furiously lobbied Mr Trump to stop the release - saying it could harm national security and mislead the public.

Speaking to reporters just before it was released, President Trump claimed the memo tells a "disgraceful story":

US Congress releases controversial Republican FBI memo

00:00:00 / 00:00:00

"A lot of people should be ashamed of themselves and much worse than that," he said.

"So I have sent it over to Congress and they will what they are going to do, whatever they do is fine - it was declassified - and let's see what happens."

In a statement this evening the Democrats on the House intelligence panel said the memo cherry picks information.

“The selective release and politicization of classified information sets a terrible precedent and will do long-term damage to the Intelligence Community and our law enforcement agencies,” they said in a statement on Friday.

Warrant

The memo claims that the FBI and Justice Department relied on claims within a controversial and unverified dossier prepared on Donald Trump and Russia in order to obtain a Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court (FISA) warrant on Trump campaign adviser Carter Page.

That dossier - which contains various as yet unverified allegations - was prepared by former British spy Christopher Steele.

It has subsequently emerged the document was initially produced as part of opposition research during the 2016 election campaign.

Incomplete

The complete file that the Justice Department used to apply for the warrant remains highly classified, making it hard to evaluate the memo’s contents.

Democrats hope to release their own memo responding to the allegations on Feb 5th.

Controversy

Earlier today, President Trump accused FBI and US Justice Department leaders of 'politicising' investigations in favour of Democrats.

The memo has been fuelling controversy for days in the US.

Investigation

It was written by Republican congressional staff members – and Democrats have insisted it is aimed at derailing the ongoing investigations into the Trump campaign.

Earlier this week, the FBI took the extremely rare step of commenting publicly on the matter – warning that the bureau harboured "grave concerns about material omissions of fact that fundamentally impact the memo’s accuracy."

Democrats, meanwhile, have accused Republicans of using the memo as part of partisan efforts to "discredit the investigations into the Trump-Russia scandal".

The opposition party's leaders in both the House and Senate have called for Nunes to be removed from his committee role over claims he had altered parts of the memo before sending it to the White House. 

Additional reporting Stephen McNeice ...


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