Top Judiciary Democrat says Justice Department denied access to intel memo

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The editorial noted the timing of Nunes' secret memo, which coincided with reports special counsel Robert Mueller is honing in on possible obstruction of justice by the president, having interviewed former FBI Director James Comey and Attorney General Jeff Session last week. "Instead, he's doing dirty work for House Republican leaders trying to protect President Donald Trump in the Russian Federation investigation". Democrats, in turn, have accused Republicans of constructing a false narrative in an attempt to undermine the inquiry on behalf of Trump.

"[Nunes] 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", the editorial board wrote.

On Wednesday, the Justice Department characterized Republicans' push for the release of Rep. Devin Nunes's classified memo on alleged government abuses of surveillance as "extraordinarily reckless", the Times.

If the committee voted to do so, the President would then have five days to either approve the release to the public or recommend against it.

"Many who have seen the memo say it's misleading, distracting and lacking context", he said, adding that "a memo can be a weapon of partisan mass distraction, especially at a pivotal moment in American history, when it behooves the man in charge for supporters to believe the institutions can't be trusted, investigators are corrupt and the news media are liars".

"I haven't looked at the memo, and I haven't seen the memo", he said.

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Schiff's announcement comes as Republican leaders in both the House and Senate argue with the Justice Department and the Federal Bureau of Investigation over publicizing information related to the dossier written by a British ex-spy, Christopher Steele. He said, "I'm here to tell all of America tonight that I'm shocked to read exactly what has taken place".

Gaetz later coordinated a letter signed by 65 House Republicans calling on Nunes to release the memo to the public.

"House Republicans are pressing for the memo's public release and are joining a "#ReleaseTheMemo" campaign on social media that Democrats say is being promoted by the Russian government to discredit the investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 campaign. "Furthermore, there were no limitations placed on disseminating this information, and we will continue to fulfill our oversight responsibilities in accordance with House rules".

That said, McCarthy believes "complaints that the memo is a distraction meant to discredit Mueller's investigation are meritless political talking points". According to the White House, Trump is inclined to release the memo after it goes through the national security process. It later emerged that Nunes had learned that from Trump's aides at the White House, and other Republicans concluded that there had been no improper unmasking.

In a party-line vote last week, committee Republicans approved releasing the memo to House members, without sharing the essential intelligence documents that might support the claims. But Schiff said that he thought the better course was for both memos to remain classified.

The more complete copy of the exchange shows Page appearing to discourage Strzok from joining the Mueller team. Sessions is not only under pressure of his own from Republicans to purge the Justice Department of anyone who isn't a Trump loyalist, it wouldn't be surprising if he's desperate to show the president that he can help protect him from the Russian Federation probe, as Trump has said plainly he wishes Sessions would do.