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Republicans differ with Trump on whether memo undercuts Russia probe

By Reuters | Published Mon, February 5th 2018 at 11:50, Updated February 5th 2018 at 12:03 GMT +3
U.S President Donald Trump steps up war against FBI, Democrats over leaked memo. [Photo: Courtesy]

Several Republican lawmakers disagreed on Sunday with President Donald Trump’s assertion that a memo released last week by the House Intelligence Committee vindicated him in the investigation into Russian meddling in the 2016 presidential election.

Tweeting from his resort in Palm Beach, Florida, on Saturday, Trump called Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s probe of election interference a “witch hunt” and a “disgrace” and said the memo “totally vindicates” him.

But several Republican lawmakers down played the memo’s significance for Mueller’s probe, including Representative Trey Gowdy, a member of the intelligence committee and one of the authors of the four-page memo.

Speaking on a television program “Face the Nation,” Gowdy said he believed the Republican memo showed sloppiness by investigators in the handling of an application to the top secret Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act court.

But he said the Russia probe should continue regardless.

“I am on record as saying I support Bob Mueller 100 percent,” Gowdy said. “I say investigate everything Russia did, but admit that this was a really sloppy process that you engaged in to surveil a U.S. citizen.”

The Republican memo has fueled a battle between Trump and the Federal Bureau of Investigation, which argued against the document’s release.

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The memo accuses senior FBI and Justice Department officials of using unverified information from a politically biased source when they sought approval from the FISA court to monitor the communications of former Trump campaign adviser Carter Page on Oct. 21, 2016.

Investigators had asked for permission to monitor Page as part of the wider probe into alleged Russian meddling in the election and potential collusion between Trump’s campaign and Russia.

Russia has denied meddling. Trump has insisted there was no collusion by his campaign.

Democrats accuse Trump and his Republican allies of trying to use the memo to undermine the Russia probe and possibly make the case for the firing of Mueller or Rod Rosenstein, the No. 2 official at Justice who is overseeing Mueller.

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