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FBI, Trump clash over Republican memo about Russia probe

US Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-MN) (L) talks with Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) during a rally with fellow Democrats before voting on H.R. 1, or the People Act, on the East Steps of the US Capitol on March 08, 2019 in Washington, DC. (AFP photo)
US President Donald Trump speaks at the FBI National Academy graduation ceremony on December 15, 2017 in Quantico, Virginia. (AFP photo)

The Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) has warned it has "grave concerns" over the accuracy of a secret memo by Republican lawmakers in Congress alleging bias against US President Donald Trump within the Department of Justice.

The FBI said Wednesday that the memo, prepared by the US House of Representatives Intelligence Committee, could depict the FBI and Justice Department as deeply politicized and challenges Trump’s pledge to release it.

“The FBI was provided a limited opportunity to review this memo the day before the committee voted to release it,” the agency said in a statement. “As expressed during our initial review, we have grave concerns about material omissions of fact that fundamentally impact the memo’s accuracy.”

The FBI, the domestic intelligence and security service of the United States, and its principal federal law enforcement agency, operates under the jurisdiction of the Justice Department.

Based on highly classified information, the four-page memo, written by Congressman Devin Nunes, a Republican from California and the chairman of the House Intelligence Committee, suggests that the Justice Department and the FBI abused their power in running surveillance on a member of Trump's election campaign in 2016.

The Justice Department and the FBI have actively lobbied against the memo’s release. In a statement on Wednesday, Nunes dismissed objections to its release as “spurious.”

The FBI statement demonstrates the agency’s growing rift with Trump and Nunes, a staunch ally in Congress of the Republican president.

Media reports say Nunes may release the memo as early as Saturday.

Democratic lawmakers say the memo selectively uses highly classified materials in a misleading effort to discredit Special Counsel Robert Mueller, who is leading the Justice Department’s investigation into alleged collusion between the Trump campaign and Russians.

Republicans say it provides evidence that the Justice Department actively sought to undermine Trump and help the election campaign of former Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton.

US intelligence agencies claim Russia-linked hackers provided WikiLeaks with damaging information -- in the form of thousands of hacked emails -- about Clinton to skew the 2016 presidential election in favor of Trump.

Trump has repeatedly denied allegations that his campaign colluded with Russians and has condemned the investigations. Russian President Vladimir Putin has also denied the allegations.


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