Flake comes out against releasing Nunes memo
© Greg Nash

A bipartisan pair of senators are urging President TrumpDonald John TrumpWinners and losers from the South Carolina debate Five takeaways from the Democratic debate Democrats duke it out in most negative debate so far 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 Flake70 former senators propose bipartisan caucus for incumbents McSally ties Democratic rival Kelly to Sanders in new ad McSally launches 2020 campaign MORE (Ariz.) and Democratic Sen. Christopher CoonsChristopher (Chris) Andrew CoonsDemocratic senators ask DOJ watchdog to expand Giuliani probe Graham warned Pentagon chief about consequences of Africa policy: report Democrats fear rule of law crumbling under Trump 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 ThuneRepublicans give Barr vote of confidence Trump creates new headaches for GOP with top intelligence pick GOP casts Sanders as 2020 boogeyman MORE (S.D.), the No. 3 Senate Republican, also urged caution earlier Thursday in releasing the memo.

ADVERTISEMENT

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 NunesThe Hill's Morning Report - Can Sanders be stopped? Trump creates new headaches for GOP with top intelligence pick Collins: Trump pick doesn't have experience to serve as director of national intelligence MORE (R-Calif.), chairman of the House Intelligence Committee, has sparked a political firestorm in Washington.

Deputy Attorney General Rod RosensteinRod RosensteinAttorney General Barr is in a mess — and has no one to blame but himself Graham requests interviews with DOJ, FBI officials as part of probe into Russia investigation DOJ won't charge former FBI Deputy Director McCabe 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 RyanPaul Ryan says he disagrees with Romney's impeachment vote Trump doubles down on Neil Cavuto attacks: 'Will he get the same treatment as' Shep Smith? Trump lashes out at Fox News coverage: 'I won every one of my debates' 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 (Bob) Swan MuellerCNN's Toobin warns McCabe is in 'perilous condition' with emboldened Trump CNN anchor rips Trump over Stone while evoking Clinton-Lynch tarmac meeting The Hill's 12:30 Report: New Hampshire fallout MORE’s Russia] investigation or the deputy attorney general,” Ryan said at the GOP retreat in West Virginia.