President Trump said Saturday morning that the controversial House Intelligence Committee memo outlining alleged abuses of secret surveillance by the FBI and Justice Department "totally vindicates" him in special counsel Robert Mueller's Russia inquiry.
"This memo totally vindicates “Trump” in probe. But the Russian Witch Hunt goes on and on," Trump tweeted about the memo he consented to have released Friday. "Their was no Collusion and there was no Obstruction (the word now used because, after one year of looking endlessly and finding NOTHING, collusion is dead). This is an American disgrace!"
This memo totally vindicates “Trump” in probe. But the Russian Witch Hunt goes on and on. Their was no Collusion and there was no Obstruction (the word now used because, after one year of looking endlessly and finding NOTHING, collusion is dead). This is an American disgrace!— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) February 3, 2018
Trump appeared to send the tweet as he was on his way to Trump International Golf Club in West Palm Beach, Fla.
The memo, put together by GOP staff at the direction of House Intelligence Committee Chairman Devin Nunes, R-Calif., makes no mention of Mueller and his team's probe into Russian interference in the 2016 election.
However, a key point in the report is concerned with the process by which Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act warrant applications were submitted for approval by a judge to spy on former Trump campaign adviser Carter Page. The document claims the Justice Department and FBI officials used information from the salacious and largely unverified "Trump dossier," authored by ex-British spy Christopher Steele, to renew a surveillance warrant against Page.
The memo also concedes that the FBI began its formal investigation into the Trump campaign in July 2016 because of foreign policy aide George Papadopoulos, and not the dossier as some Republicans have asserted. Papadopoulos pleaded guilty in October to charges brought against him by Mueller in his Russia investigation.
While conservative Republican lawmakers had rallied for the memo's public release for months, some hinting that it could spell the demise of Mueller's probe, Democrats and the FBI warned against its release over concerns that it could be misleading and damaging without proper review and the underlying documents upon which the memo is based. Democrats have also created their own rebuttal memo, although that has yet to be released to the public.
After the memo's release, key Republicans, including Rep. Trey Gowdy, a member of the House Intelligence Committee who helped spearhead the push to release the memo, said "I also remain 100 percent confident in special counsel Robert Mueller. The contents of this memo do not – in any way – discredit his investigation."
House Speaker Paul Ryan, R-Wis., also said this week that the memo "does not impugn the Mueller investigation or the deputy attorney general."
He was referring to Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein, the official overseeing special counsel Mueller's investigation.
Rosenstein is mentioned twice in the memo: when he signed off on one renewal of a federal court surveillance warrant against Page and as someone who worked “closely” with former Associate Deputy Attorney General Bruce Ohr.
Though Trump made an evasive comment as he allowed the release of the memo — “You figure that one out,” Trump said when asked if he had confidence in Rosenstein — White House deputy press secretary Raj Shah told CNN later in the evening that the administration has no plans to fire Rosenstein.
Top congressional Democrats warned Trump on Friday against using memo as a pretext to fire Rosenstein and therefore halt the Russia investigation, creating a “constitutional crisis.”