The hometown newspaper of House Intelligence Committee Chairman Devin Nunes, R-Calif., criticized him for “doing the dirty work” to protect President Trump, after he wrote up a memo that allegedly outlines surveillance violations by the U.S. government.
“What, pray tell, does Rep. Devin Nunes think he’s doing by waving around a secret memo attacking the FBI, the nation’s premier law enforcement agency?” the Fresno Bee wrote in an op-ed published Thursday. “He certainly isn’t representing his Central Valley constituents or Californians, who care much more about health care, jobs and, yes, protecting Dreamers than about the latest conspiracy theory.”
“Instead, he’s doing dirty work for House Republican leaders trying to protect President Donald Trump in the Russia investigation,” the editorial added.
The editorial noted that the push to publicly release Nunes’ memo came as media reports have emerged suggesting that special counsel Robert Mueller is ratcheting up his case of possible obstruction of justice against Trump, given that former FBI Director James Comey and Attorney General Jeff Sessions were interviewed by him and his team last week. The editorial claimed that it was an attempt to “discredit the FBI and distract the public.”
“There are reasons to be very skeptical of this memo,” the editorial said. “The FBI hasn’t been sent a copy or given a chance to respond. Democrats who have seen it, including Rep. Adam Schiff of Burbank say it’s full of inaccuracies and innuendo.” Schiff, also from California, is the ranking member on the intelligence panel.
Republicans have urged for the memo to be publicly released and claim it contains evidence of violations of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act. The memo, which describes classified material from the FBI and Justice Department, reportedly says incorrect statements from “Trump dossier” author Christopher Steele about Trump associates’ connections to Russia were included in an approved application to put Carter Page, a Trump campaign official, under surveillance.
However, current and former law enforcement officials have said other information was also used to justify the surveillance application.
The DOJ on Thursday warned Nunes against releasing the memo concerning Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act, or FISA, calling it “extraordinarily reckless," without giving the DOJ and FBI the opportunity to review it and to advise the committee "of the risk of harm to national security and to ongoing investigations that could come from public release.”
On the other side of the aisle, Democrats have brushed of the information in the memo and called it “talking points” that are leading a “false narrative.”
Democrats from the intelligence committee this week announced they are putting together their own memo to refute the Nunes memo.