Panetta: ‘Constitutional crisis’ if Trump OKs memo’s release over FBI objections

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Former CIA Director Leon Panetta said Thursday that President Trump risks a “constitutional crisis” by pushing for the release of a GOP memo detailing alleged government surveillance abuses over objections from the FBI.

In an interview with NBC’s Chuck Todd, Panetta said he worries that the system of checks and balances in the federal government is breaking down.


“There is no question, Chuck, that it is breaking down the process as it was designed to work so that all sides would have say in the process,” Panetta said on MSNBC’s “MTP Daily.”

“We have check and balances. But you have to establish ways for those checks and balances to work,” the former Obama administration official continued.

“When that starts to break down, when the president says, ‘I’m going to release it no matter what the FBI says, or what the Justice Department says,’ then it creates what I consider a constitutional crisis,” he finished.

Trump plans to allow for the release of the memo over objections from FBI Director Christopher Wray that the memo, written by GOP staff for House Intelligence Committee Chairman Rep. Devin Nunes (R-Calif.), is misleading and inaccurate.

“The president is OK with it,” a White House official told reporters traveling with Trump aboard Air Force One. “I doubt there will be any redactions. It’s in Congress’s hands after that.”

Senior Justice Department officials, including Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein, have lobbied both the White House and the House Intelligence Committee against releasing the document. 

“As expressed during our initial review, we have grave concerns about material omissions of fact that fundamentally impact the memo’s accuracy,” the FBI said in a statement this week. 

Tags Christopher Wray Devin Nunes Devin Nunes Donald Trump Donald Trump FBI Justice Department Leon Panetta Rod Rosenstein Rod Rosenstein Surveillance White House

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