WASHINGTON — On the eve of what’s expected to be the release of the FISA memo drafted by staff of House Intelligence Committee Chairman Devin Nunes (R-Calif.), the FBI agents’ union publicly declared they’re in Director Christopher Wray’s corner while House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) said GOPs aren’t out to get the FBI.
Wray, who was appointed by President Trump, has reportedly been fighting against the memo’s release and some in the White House fear he could quit in protest.
The four-page memo, which the Intelligence Committee voted along party lines Monday to declassify, reportedly alleges that the FBI used the Steele dossier to renew FISA monitoring of Trump campaign adviser Carter Page without letting the judge who signed off on the order know that the Clinton campaign paid for the latter half of Fusion GPS’ investigation with former MI6 operative Christopher Steele.
Former Director of National Intelligence James Clapper has said that some of the details in the Steele dossier have been corroborated as true, while other details have not been corroborated or disproven. The dossier said Page, who has admitted to traveling to Russia during the presidential campaign but said it was for personal reasons, met with Russia’s state-owned oil company Rosneft during his Trump campaign tenure.
Wray went to Capitol Hill on Sunday to look at the memo for the first time. In a statement Tuesday, the FBI said that the Bureau “was provided a limited opportunity to review this memo the day before the committee voted to release it,” and “as expressed during our initial review, we have grave concerns about material omissions of fact that fundamentally impact the memo’s accuracy.”
FBI Agents Association president Thomas O’Connor issued a statement Thursday on behalf of the more than 14,000 active and retired agents who comprise the association.
“The FBI Agents Association appreciates FBI Director Chris Wray standing shoulder to shoulder with the men and women of the FBI as we work together to protect our country from criminal and national security threats,” O’Connor said. “As Director Wray noted, FBI Special Agents have remained steadfast in their dedication to professionalism, and we remain focused on our important work to protect the country from terrorists and criminals—both domestic and international.”
“Special Agents take a solemn oath to our country and to the Constitution, and the American public continues to be well-served by the world’s preeminent law enforcement agency,” he added.
Former FBI Director James Comey chimed in with a tweet Thursday: “All should appreciate the FBI speaking up. I wish more of our leaders would. But take heart: American history shows that, in the long run, weasels and liars never hold the field, so long as good people stand up. Not a lot of schools or streets named for Joe McCarthy.”
At a Republican lawmakers’ retreat in West Virginia, House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) insisted that the memo’s release “does not impugn the Mueller investigation or the deputy attorney general.”
“What this memo is is Congress doing its job in conducting legitimate oversight over a very unique law, FISA. If mistakes were made and individuals did something wrong, it’s our job as the legislative branch to conduct oversight over the executive branch if abuses were made,” Ryan said.
“If Americans civil liberties were abused, that needs to come to light so that it does’t happen again,” he added.
Ryan stressed that the memo is not “an indictment of our justice systems, of the FBI, the Department of Justice.”
Trump addressed the GOP retreat Tuesday, but did not mention the memo.
“Paul Ryan called me the other day. And I don’t know if I’m supposed to say this, but I will say that he said to me, he has never, ever seen the Republican Party so united, so much in like with each other, but literally the word ‘united’ was the word he used. It was — it’s the most united he’s ever seen the party,” Trump said.
The president also said that Sen. Orrin Hatch (R-Utah) “once said I’m the greatest president in the history of our country. And I said, ‘Does that include Lincoln and Washington?’ He said, ‘Yes.’ I said, ‘I love this guy.'”
Hatch’s office said the senator didn’t tell Trump that. “Hatch has said that he would like to work with the president to make this the greatest presidency in history for the American people,” said spokesman Matt Whitlock.