Anderson Cooper: Clash over Nunes memo 'a phony drama'

CNN anchor Anderson Cooper began his program on Thursday night by stating the controversial Republican-drafted memo alleging surveillance abuses at the Department of Justice and FBI is "in many ways a phony drama."

The commentary came just one day after President TrumpDonald John TrumpSchiff blasts Trump for making 'false claims' about Russia intel: 'You've betrayed America. Again.' Poll: Sanders leads 2020 Democratic field with 28 percent, followed by Warren and Biden More than 6 in 10 expect Trump to be reelected: poll MORE viewed the memo. The president is expected to sign off on allowing its release as early as Friday.

“We begin tonight with the drama over the Nunes memo,” Cooper said, referring to House Intelligence Committee Chairman Devin NunesDevin Gerald NunesJudge dismisses Nunes' lawsuit against Fusion GPS Trump's new intel chief makes immediate changes, ousts top official Overnight Energy: EPA moves to limit financial pressure on 'forever chemical' manufacturers | California sues Trump over water order| Buttigieg expands on climate plan MORE (R-Calif.), whose staff drafted the memo. “Keeping them honest, it is in many ways a phony drama. Phony, because the release of the memo is by all accounts a foregone conclusion. It is, and always has been.”


"We should point out the document in question is not some bipartisan of fact by the partisan committee, it appears it will be something of a press release," the anchor continued. "Something let out under the Intelligence Committee membership, chaired, of course, by Congressman Devin Nunes."

"So despite grave concerns from the director of the FBI, Christopher Wray, as well as from officials at the Department of Justice, the memo is in all likelihood going to be released," Cooper added.

"How will we know this? We know it because the president himself said he wants it out. He’s been calling for it. On Tuesday night [after the State of the Union] he said the odds of it being released are 100 percent."

The Justice Department and FBI have both expressed staunch opposition to the memo's release, citing potential misconception of internal processes and the possibility of exposing intelligence sources and methods.

Democratic critics have said the memo was crafted specifically to discredited special counsel 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 investigation into Russian election meddling, including any potential ties between President Trump's campaign and Moscow.

But 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.) insisted Thursday that the release of the memo will not impugn the Russia probe.

“What this is not is 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 [Mueller's] investigation or the deputy attorney general,” Ryan said Thursday at retreat of Republican leaders in West Virginia.

“What it is, is the Congress’s legitimate function of oversight to make sure the FISA process is being used correctly,” he added, referring to a controversial government surveillance program. “If it wasn’t being used correctly, that needs to come to light and people need to be held accountable so this doesn’t affect our civil liberties.”