Flake comes out against releasing Nunes memo
© Greg Nash

A bipartisan pair of senators are urging President TrumpDonald John TrumpMichelle Obama says not always easy to live up to "we go high" Georgia certifies elections results in bitterly fought governor's race Trump defends border deployment amid fresh scrutiny MORE to not allow a GOP memo accusing the Department of Justice (DOJ) and FBI of abusing their power to be publicly released.

GOP Sen. Jeff FlakeJeffrey (Jeff) Lane FlakeTrump defends border deployment amid fresh scrutiny Sunday shows preview: New members preview agendas after Democratic House takeover Veteran political reporter says New Hampshire voters have 'hunger' to moderate political turbulence MORE (Ariz.) and Democratic Sen. Christopher CoonsChristopher (Chris) Andrew CoonsHillicon Valley: Facebook reeling after NYT report | Dems want DOJ probe | HQ2 brings new scrutiny on Amazon | Judge upholds Russian troll farm indictments | Cyber moonshot panel unveils recommendations Senators introduce Trump-backed criminal justice bill Dems press Justice Department to probe Facebook over political attacks MORE (Del.) — both members of the Judiciary Committee — said Trump "should heed the warnings" from the DOJ and FBI, where top officials have taken issue with the forthcoming report. 

"The president’s apparent willingness to release this memo risks undermining U.S. intelligence-gathering efforts, politicizing Congress’ oversight role, and eroding confidence in our institutions of government," the senators said in a joint statement. 

Flake, who is retiring after 2018 and has been a vocal Trump critic, is one of few GOP senators to openly oppose releasing the memo. Sen. John ThuneJohn Randolph ThuneBipartisan Senate bill would penalize illegal robocalls Hillicon Valley: Russian-linked hackers may have impersonated US officials | Trump signs DHS cyber bill | Prosecutors inadvertently reveal charges against Assange | Accenture workers protest border enforcement work | App mines crypto for bail bonds Senators push bipartisan bill to crack down on robocalls MORE (S.D.), the No. 3 Senate Republican, also urged caution earlier Thursday in releasing the memo.

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An official said Thursday that Trump would tell Congress "probably tomorrow" of his decision. The official said the president did not have any national security objections to releasing the memo and likely wouldn't request to redact any material.

The memo compiled by GOP staff for Rep. Devin NunesDevin Gerald NunesHeads up, GOP: Elections have consequences Overnight Energy: Trump, California leaders clash over fires | Trump says oil prices should be 'much lower' | Zinke criticizes media coverage | Officials consider new truck pollution rule Trump, California battle over climate and cause of fires MORE (R-Calif.), chairman of the House Intelligence Committee, has sparked a political firestorm in Washington.

Deputy Attorney General Rod RosensteinRod Jay RosensteinMueller could turn easy Trump answers into difficult situation Attorneys want Supreme Court to determine legality of Whitaker as acting AG Top Dems: DOJ position on Whitaker appointment 'fatally flawed' MORE reportedly warned the White House against releasing the document, while the FBI, in a rare public statement, said it had "grave concerns" about the memo.

The White House is reportedly worried that FBI Director Christopher Wray will quit if it the memo is released over his objection.

Flake and Coons said Thursday that releasing the memo would "defy longstanding policies regarding the disclosure of classified information." 

The House Intelligence Committee voted along party lines earlier this week to publicly release the memo, which is said to contain allegations that the FBI improperly surveilled Trump campaign communications.

Speaker Paul RyanPaul Davis RyanCalif. congresswoman-elect bumps into Pelosi at airport How this year’s freshmen can save the Congress — and themselves Democrat Katie Porter unseats GOP's Mimi Walters MORE (R-Wis.) defended Nunes earlier Thursday, saying Democrats are "playing politics and they’re just looking for a political distraction" from the GOP tax plan.

“Devin Nunes helped shepherd through a reauthorization of … the foreign terrorist surveillance law. So he’s focusing on keeping our country safe, focusing on national security," he said. "I think what they are trying to do is sidetrack us for some political gain.”

But Ryan also said he didn't think the memo served as "an indictment on our institutions, of our justice system."

"This memo is not an indictment of the FBI, of the Department of Justice. It does not impugn [Robert MuellerRobert Swan MuellerSasse: US should applaud choice of Mueller to lead Russia probe MORE’s Russia] investigation or the deputy attorney general,” Ryan said at the GOP retreat in West Virginia.