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Senate GOP leader cautions Nunes on FBI memo

WHITE SULPHUR SPRINGS, W.Va. — House Republicans should proceed carefully before making public a House Intelligence Committee memo alleging a variety of abuses by the FBI and Department of Justice, Senate Republican Conference Chairman John ThuneJohn Randolph ThuneFlake to try to force vote on DACA stopgap plan Congress punts fight over Dreamers to March The 14 GOP senators who voted against Trump’s immigration framework MORE (R-S.D.) said Thursday.

Thune, speaking to reporters at a Republican retreat, said that Rep. Devin NunesDevin Gerald NunesFive key takeaways from the Russian indictments Shepard Smith: New Mueller indictments prove Russia probe is 'opposite of a hoax' Schiff: 'We're very close to reaching an agreement' with FBI on countermemo MORE (R-Calif.), chairman of the Intelligence panel, should first share the memo with Senate Intelligence Committee Chairman Richard BurrRichard Mauze BurrOvernight Finance: Senate rejects Trump immigration plan | U.S. Bancorp to pay 0M in fines for lacking money laundering protections | Cryptocurrency market overcharges users | Prudential fights to loosen oversight Senators introduce bill to help businesses with trade complaints Our intelligence chiefs just want to tell the truth about national security MORE (R-N.C.) before releasing it publicly, noting that Burr has been unable to obtain the document.

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“I think the Senate Intelligence Committee needs to see it, for sure. Sen. Burr would like to see it and hasn’t been able to yet,” Thune said, arguing that the Senate Intelligence Committee should be apprised before the document becomes available to the public.

“There are important national security considerations they need to weigh, and hopefully they’re doing that,” he said.

Thune also said that Nunes should heed the concerns of FBI Director Christopher Wray about divulging information about the agency’s sources and methods.

“They have to take into consideration what the FBI is saying, and if there are things that need to be redacted, I think they need to pay careful attention to what our folks who protect us have to say about how this bears on our national security,” he said.

The memo alleges that the FBI improperly used information related to a dossier of opposition research partly funded by Democrats to get a warrant to conduct surveillance of a senior Trump campaign adviser.

The FBI has pushed the White House to not authorize the release of the memo. In a statement released this week, the FBI said it had “grave concerns” about what it viewed as inaccuracies in the memo.

“We have grave concerns about the material omissions of fact that fundamentally impact the memo’s accuracy,” the agency said in an unsigned statement.

The New York Times reported that the statement was drafted by Wray, an appointee of President TrumpDonald John TrumpAccuser says Trump should be afraid of the truth Woman behind pro-Trump Facebook page denies being influenced by Russians Shulkin says he has White House approval to root out 'subversion' at VA MORE.

Wray and other officials also reportedly met with White House chief of staff John KellyJohn Francis KellyMORE and other officials this week to weigh in against the memo’s release.

Trump backs releasing the memo, however, and told a Republican congressman after Tuesday night’s State of the Union address that he was 100 percent behind its release.

Democrats have sided with the FBI, and argue that the House Intelligence Committee memo, which Nunes spearheaded, cherry-picks information to present a biased case.

A separate memo authored by Democrats on the panel has also been written, but the Intelligence Committee voted on party lines to release the Nunes memo but not the Democrats' memo.

Thune also urged Nunes to release the Democratic memo if he goes ahead and makes public the Republican-authored document. 

"If you're going to release one, I think you have to release the other," he said. 

House Freedom Caucus Chairman Mark MeadowsMark Randall MeadowsHouse conservative rejects ‘any suggestion of a coup on the speakership’ Freedom Caucus chairman warns Ryan over immigration Burned by the budget, right warns Ryan on immigration MORE (R-N.C.) said it’s not unusual for a federal agency to fight back against an unflattering report from Congress.

“You’re going to see major pushback. This is not the only pushback we’re going to see. If it’s released, you’re going to see unbelievable spin that ‘it doesn’t mean this’ and ‘we didn’t do that,’” he said.

“Any time that you spy on American citizens there needs to be an unbelievable high bar, and we have to make sure that our Fourth Amendment process is certainly secure and intact,” he said.