Fears of Russian invasion of Ukraine rise despite US push for diplomacy
DOJ tells Nunes it'd be 'reckless' to release memo without review
The Department of Justice (DOJ) on Wednesday warned lawmakers not to publicly release a memo purporting to detail surveillance abuses by the U.S. government for fear it will harm national security and ongoing investigations.
Assistant Attorney General Stephen Boyd, in a letter to the chairman of the House Intelligence Committee, Rep. Devin Nunes (R-Calif.), said the Republican push to release a memo they say reveals political bias at the FBI and DOJ would be "extraordinarily reckless" without a review by those agencies.
"We have also heard that HPSCI [the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence] is considering making the classified memorandum available to the public and the media, an unprecedented action," Boyd wrote in the letter.
In the letter, Boyd also appears to argue that such a disclosure would violate an information-sharing agreement that the Justice Department reached with Speaker Paul Ryan (R-Wis.).
"Additionally, we believe that wider distribution of the classified information presumably contained within your memorandum would represent a significant deviation from the terms of access negotiated in good faith by the Department, HSPCI, and the Office of Speaker Paul Ryan."
The DOJ official goes on to say that while the Justice Department is unaware of the purported Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) abuses detailed in the memo, officials hope lawmakers will provide more information so that investigations into the claims can take place.
"Though we are currently unaware of any wrongdoing related to the FISA process, we agree than any abuse of this system cannot be tolerated," Boyd said. "Indeed, we do not understand why the committee would possibly seek to disclose this information without first consulting the relevant members of the Intelligence Community."
Republicans in Congress have been demanding the release of the memo, which some members say details "shocking" abuses by the U.S. government. The memo also reportedly reveals political bias in the federal investigation that lead to the probe into Russia's election meddling and possible collusion by the Trump campaign.
The House Intelligence Committee voted last week to allow House lawmakers to view the memo in secure locations, but reportedly denied access to the Senate Intelligence Committee. Republicans have since called for the wider release of the contents of the memo.
"I'm here to tell all of America tonight that I'm shocked to read exactly what has taken place," House Freedom Caucus Chairman Mark Meadows (R-N.C.) said in a speech on the House floor.
"I thought it could never happen in a country that loves freedom and democracy like this country. It is time that we become transparent with all of this, and I'm calling on our leadership to make this available so all Americans can judge for themselves," he said.
-Updated 8:23 p.m.