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GOP debates releasing controversial memo

GOP debates releasing controversial memo
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Congressional Republicans on Sunday pleaded their case for releasing a classified memo that they claim will reveal political bias within the FBI, while the White House also waded into the discussion.

Most Republicans want the memo to be released publicly, but the manner of its release — and whether it should be reviewed first by the administration — is a matter of dispute.

White House legislative affairs director Marc Short on Sunday confirmed reports that President TrumpDonald John TrumpVenezuela judge orders prison time for 6 American oil executives Trump says he'll leave White House if Biden declared winner of Electoral College The Memo: Biden faces tough road on pledge to heal nation MORE wants the memo released for the sake of "transparency," despite concerns raised by the Department of Justice (DOJ) and FBI.

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“We don’t know what’s in the memo. It's classified, I haven't seen it. But I think the president generally is on the side of transparency. And so, yes, I think he believes that that should be put out,” Short said on “Fox News Sunday.”

Staff for Rep. Devin NunesDevin Gerald NunesOvernight Defense: Trump loyalist to lead Pentagon transition | Democrats ask VA for vaccine distribution plan | Biden to get classified intel reports Ex-Nunes aide linked to Biden conspiracy theories will lead Pentagon transition Sunday shows preview: Biden transition, COVID-19 spike in spotlight MORE (R-Calif.), chairman of the House Intelligence Committee, crafted the four-page memo based on classified documents provided by the DOJ and FBI. The memo is said to contain allegations that senior FBI officials abused a surveillance program to target the Trump campaign last year.

It reportedly outlines allegations that the FBI used the controversial "Steele dossier," which contains unverified claims about Trump's ties to Russia, to obtain a surveillance warrant in the fall of 2016 against Trump campaign adviser Carter Page. 

Several Republican lawmakers have called for the classified report to be released, saying it will show special counsel Robert MuellerRobert (Bob) 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 investigation into possible collusion between Trump campaign officials and Russia is based on politically motivated actions.

DOJ officials, however, warned that releasing its contents before they are able to review it would be "extraordinarily reckless" because it reveals intelligence sources and could harm ongoing investigations. The DOJ also says it would violate the terms of the House's access to the information set by Speaker Paul RyanPaul Davis RyanPaul Ryan calls for Trump to accept results: 'The election is over' Bottom line Democratic anger rises over Trump obstacles to Biden transition MORE's (R-Wis.) office.

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"Those are rational concerns," Short said. "But at the same time, I think the president is more inclined for transparency in this investigation. And so, to the extent that the House I think has advocated that it’s publicly released, I think the president is receptive to that."

Most Republican lawmakers were adamant on Sunday that the public deserved to see the memo. 

Rep. Trey GowdyHarold (Trey) Watson GowdyThe Hunter Biden problem won't go away Sunday shows preview: Joe Biden wins the 2020 election Sunday shows preview: Election integrity dominates as Nov. 3 nears MORE (R-S.C.) assured Fox host Chris Wallace on the same program that there’s nothing in the memo that the DOJ isn’t already aware of. He denied that the document is a “hit piece,” and said the FBI should have a chance to see it before it’s released.

“I want the bureau to know everything that’s in the memo. I think you’ll be surprised. It is not a hit piece on the department and the FBI. I would not have participated in it if that’s what it was,” Gowdy said.

House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthyKevin Owen McCarthyTop Republicans praise Trump's Flynn pardon Richmond says GOP 'reluctant to stand up and tell the emperor he wears no clothes' Sunday shows preview: Biden transition, COVID-19 spike in spotlight MORE (R-Calif.) also voiced support for releasing the memo and suggested the Justice Department will have a chance to look it over once it's released to the executive branch.

House Intelligence Committee member Will HurdWilliam Ballard HurdHouse Hispanic Republicans welcome four new members Democrats lead in diversity in new Congress despite GOP gains Senate passes bill to secure internet-connected devices against cyber vulnerabilities MORE (R-Texas) said the memo should be released as part of an effort to hold leaders of the FBI accountable.

Democrats have ripped Republican rhetoric on the memo, calling it an effort to undermine the FBI amid Mueller’s investigation into Russian meddling in the 2016 election. 

Party members on the House Intelligence Committee said last week they have drafted a memo of their own to counter the Nunes memo.

Ranking member Adam SchiffAdam Bennett SchiffOVERNIGHT DEFENSE: Trump pardons Flynn | Lawmakers lash out at decision | Pentagon nixes Thanksgiving dining hall meals due to COVID-19 Democratic impeachment leaders blast Trump's pardon of Flynn Trump pardons Michael Flynn MORE (D-Calif.) said his party’s memo is intended to expose “the misleading character of the Republicans’ document.” 

Those sentiments found limited support on Sunday, when only Sen. Lindsey GrahamLindsey Olin GrahamLet's give thanks to Republican defenders of Democracy Clyburn: Biden falling short on naming Black figures to top posts Feinstein departure from top post sets stage for Judiciary fight MORE (R-S.C.) expressed reservations about making the memo public. 

Graham said on ABC's “This Week” that he’d prefer an outside counsel review the allegations raised in the memo, rather than declassify its contents.

"No, I don't want it released yet. I don't. I want somebody who is without a political bias to come in and look at the allegations that I have seen,” Graham said. “I’ve been a lawyer most of my adult life. And the way the FBI conducted itself and the Department of Justice bothers me.”