Pelosi: Nunes memo is a ’bouquet’ for Putin

Pelosi: Nunes memo is a ’bouquet’ for Putin
© Greg Nash

House Democratic leaders wasted no time Friday pouncing on a newly released GOP report alleging surveillance abuses by the Justice Department, lashing out at the Republicans for advancing a politically motivated “spin memo” designed solely to undermine the federal probe into Russia's election meddling and possible collusion with the Trump campaign.

Mincing no words, House Minority Leader Nancy PelosiNancy PelosiTrip that led to acting Navy secretary's resignation cost 3K: reports Overnight Health Care: Trump steps up attack on WHO | Fauci says deaths could be lower than first projected | House panel warns federal stockpile of medical supplies depleted | Mnuchin, Schumer in talks over relief deal House Republicans, key administration officials push for additional funding for coronavirus small business loans MORE (D-Calif.) accused President TrumpDonald John TrumpSenators demand more details from Trump on intel watchdog firing Overnight Health Care: Trump steps up attack on WHO | Fauci says deaths could be lower than first projected | House panel warns federal stockpile of medical supplies depleted | Mnuchin, Schumer in talks over relief deal Trump says he'll look into small business loan program restricting casinos MORE, who approved the memo’s release, of siding with Russian President Vladimir Putin at the expense of national security.

“President Trump has surrendered his constitutional responsibility as Commander-in-Chief by releasing highly classified and distorted intelligence,” Pelosi said. 

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“By not protecting intelligence sources and methods, he just sent his friend Putin a bouquet,” she said.

The Republican memo, composed by aides to Rep. Devin NunesDevin Gerald NunesCalifornia governor responds to Nunes on canceling school: 'We'll continue to listen to the experts' Nunes claims it would be 'way overkill' to cancel school year in California due to coronavirus Trump steps up intensity in battle with media MORE (R-Calif.), chairman of the House Intelligence Committee, has become the latest flashpoint in the months-long investigation into Moscow’s 2016 election meddling and whether members of Trump’s campaign team conspired with them to help their candidate win the White House.

Released Friday just after noon, the memo alleges that senior officials at the Department of Justice and FBI, seeking to undermine Trump’s election chances, had abused their powers by leaning on a piece of opposition research to justify the surveillance of Trump adviser Carter Page.

Top officials at those agencies have repeatedly urged Trump and other GOP leaders to keep the document classified, warning that it’s inaccurate and could expose federal surveillance capabilities — warnings the Republicans dismissed. 

Nunes, a strong supporter of Trump, has for months used his perch atop the Intel panel to push back against the ongoing Russia-Trump investigation being conducted by 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.

He was quick to defend Friday’s release of the previously classified memo, saying the panel “has discovered serious violations of the public trust” that merited exposure.

“Our intelligence and law enforcement agencies exist to defend the American people, not to be exploited to target one group on behalf of another," Nunes said.

Democrats have a decidedly different view, charging the Republicans with cherry-picking evidence solely to defend their ally in the White House. Pelosi, joining other Democratic leaders, has asked Speaker Paul RyanPaul Davis RyanWho should be the Democratic vice presidential candidate? The Pelosi administration It's not populism that's killing America's democracy MORE (R-Wis.) to remove Nunes from the top post on Intel.

“Nunes’s partisan spin memo distorts highly classified intelligence in a cynical attempt to discredit our national intelligence and law enforcement agencies and the special counsel investigation,” she said Friday. “Releasing the memo is a desperate attempt to distract the American people from the truth about the Trump-Russia scandal.”