WASHINGTON (Reuters) – The House Intelligence Committee prepared on Monday to take up a Democratic response to a recently released Republican memo that alleges FBI bias against President Donald Trump, who accused the panel’s top Democrat of leaking confidential information.
The Republican memo, declassified by the White House on Friday, has fueled a battle between Trump and the Federal Bureau of Investigation, which argued against the document’s release, citing concerns over its accuracy and the omission of facts.
Democrats said the four-page Republican document mischaracterizes highly sensitive classified information and was intended to undermine Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s criminal probe into possible collusion between Moscow and the Trump campaign to sway the 2016 presidential election.
Democrats have prepared a rebuttal memo, which the committee is preparing to review later on Monday, two sources told Reuters.
The panel is conducting one of three congressional investigations into whether Russia meddled to influence the 2016 presidential election.
The committee’s top Democrat, U.S. Representative Adam Schiff, has led criticism of the Republican memo, which he told ABC News on Sunday was “a political hit job on the FBI in the service of the president.”
The memo accuses senior FBI and Justice Department officials of not revealing that portions of a dossier, used in seeking a Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act court warrant, was partly paid for by Democrats. The warrant involved former Trump campaign adviser Carter Page and was renewed three times since October 2016.
“We have a responsibility … to ensure Americans that the FISA process is not being abused, and that’s what we did,” Devin Nunes, the panel’s Republican chairman, told Fox News on Monday.
Trump, in a post on Twitter on Monday, accused Schiff of leaking “confidential” information.
“Adam (Schiff) leaves closed committee hearings to illegally leak confidential information. Must be stopped!” Trump wrote.
Schiff responded with his own tweet: “Mr. President, I see you’ve had a busy morning of ‘Executive Time.’ Instead of tweeting false smears, the American people would appreciate it if you turned off the TV and helped solve the funding crisis, protected Dreamers or…really anything else.”
Trump denies that his campaign colluded with Moscow to influence the presidential election, while Russia maintains it did not meddle in the vote.
(Reporting by Makini Brice and Katanga Johnson; Writing by Doina Chiacu; Editing by Bernadette Baum)