Pelosi: Nunes memo is a ’bouquet’ for Putin

Pelosi: Nunes memo is a ’bouquet’ for Putin
© Greg Nash

House Democratic leaders wasted no time Friday pouncing on a newly released GOP report alleging surveillance abuses by the Justice Department, lashing out at the Republicans for advancing a politically motivated “spin memo” designed solely to undermine the federal probe into Russia's election meddling and possible collusion with the Trump campaign.

Mincing no words, House Minority Leader Nancy PelosiNancy Patricia D'Alesandro PelosiTop Ethics Dem calls for Nielsen to resign Dems unveil slate of measures to ratchet up pressure on Russia GOP looks to blunt Dems’ attacks on rising premiums MORE (D-Calif.) accused President TrumpDonald John TrumpWSJ: Trump ignored advice to confront Putin over indictments Trump hotel charging Sean Spicer ,000 as book party venue Bernie Sanders: Trump 'so tough' on child separations but not on Putin MORE, who approved the memo’s release, of siding with Russian President Vladimir Putin at the expense of national security.

“President Trump has surrendered his constitutional responsibility as Commander-in-Chief by releasing highly classified and distorted intelligence,” Pelosi said. 

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“By not protecting intelligence sources and methods, he just sent his friend Putin a bouquet,” she said.

The Republican memo, composed by aides to Rep. Devin NunesDevin Gerald NunesOn The Money: Trump 'ready' for tariffs on all 0B in Chinese goods | Trump digs in on Fed criticism | Lawmakers drop plans to challenge Trump ZTE deal GOP tax writer introduces bill to reduce capital gains taxes Nunes used political donations for K in NBA tickets, winery tours, Vegas trips: report MORE (R-Calif.), chairman of the House Intelligence Committee, has become the latest flashpoint in the months-long investigation into Moscow’s 2016 election meddling and whether members of Trump’s campaign team conspired with them to help their candidate win the White House.

Released Friday just after noon, the memo alleges that senior officials at the Department of Justice and FBI, seeking to undermine Trump’s election chances, had abused their powers by leaning on a piece of opposition research to justify the surveillance of Trump adviser Carter Page.

Top officials at those agencies have repeatedly urged Trump and other GOP leaders to keep the document classified, warning that it’s inaccurate and could expose federal surveillance capabilities — warnings the Republicans dismissed. 

Nunes, a strong supporter of Trump, has for months used his perch atop the Intel panel to push back against the ongoing Russia-Trump investigation being conducted by special counsel Robert MuellerRobert Swan MuellerSasse: US should applaud choice of Mueller to lead Russia probe MORE.

He was quick to defend Friday’s release of the previously classified memo, saying the panel “has discovered serious violations of the public trust” that merited exposure.

“Our intelligence and law enforcement agencies exist to defend the American people, not to be exploited to target one group on behalf of another," Nunes said.

Democrats have a decidedly different view, charging the Republicans with cherry-picking evidence solely to defend their ally in the White House. Pelosi, joining other Democratic leaders, has asked Speaker Paul RyanPaul Davis RyanInterior fast tracks study of drilling's Arctic impact: report Dems unveil slate of measures to ratchet up pressure on Russia National Dems make play in Ohio special election MORE (R-Wis.) to remove Nunes from the top post on Intel.

“Nunes’s partisan spin memo distorts highly classified intelligence in a cynical attempt to discredit our national intelligence and law enforcement agencies and the special counsel investigation,” she said Friday. “Releasing the memo is a desperate attempt to distract the American people from the truth about the Trump-Russia scandal.”