In a remarkably public clash of wills with the White House, the FBI on Wednesday said that it has “grave concerns” about the accuracy of a classified memo on the Russia election investigation that US President Donald Trump wants released.
The FBI’s short and sharp statement, its first on the issue, laid bare a Trump administration conflict that had previously played out mostly behind closed doors in meetings between top US Department of Justice and White House officials.
“As expressed during our initial review, we have grave concerns about material omissions of fact that fundamentally impact the memo’s accuracy,” the FBI said.
Further complicating the memo’s release, the top Democrat on the House of Representatives Intelligence Committee late on Wednesday said that his committee’s vote to release the memo was now invalid because it was “secretly altered” by the Republicans who wrote it.
US Representative Adam Schiff said in a letter to House Intelligence Committee Chairman Devin Nunes that committee Democrats had discovered changes that were made after the panel voted on Monday to send it to Trump for review.
“The White House has therefore been reviewing a document since Monday night that the committee never approved for public release,” Schiff said in the letter.
Schiff did not detail the changes and a spokesman for Nunes did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
Trump has five days from the vote to review the document and if he does not object then US Congress can release it.
Schiff called for Nunes to withdraw the memo from the White House and for the committee to hold a new vote on Monday next week.
The memo is part of an effort to reveal what Republicans say are surveillance abuses by the FBI and the Justice Department in the early stages of the probe into potential ties between Russia and Trump’s presidential campaign.
The FBI’s stance on the memo escalates the dispute and means Trump would be openly defying his handpicked FBI director by continuing to push for its disclosure.
It also suggests a clear willingness by FBI Director Christopher Wray, who in the early stretch of his tenure has been notably low-key, to challenge a president who just months ago fired his predecessor, James Comey.
The FBI statement came the day after Trump was overheard telling a representative that he “100 percent” supported release of the four-page memo.
US Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer on Wednesday night placed the blame on House Speaker Paul Ryan, saying that if Ryan “cares about the integrity of the House or the rule of law, he will put an end to this charade once and for all.”
Democrats have called the memo a “cherry-picked” list of Republican talking points that attempts to distract from the committee’s own investigation into Russian meddling in the election that sent Trump to the White House.
The drama comes as special counsel Robert Mueller is also investigating whether the Trump campaign improperly coordinated with Russia during the campaign and whether Trump sought to obstruct the inquiry by, among other actions, firing Comey.
SCHEDULE: The delegation is due to meet with President Tsai Ing-wen this morning and witness the signing of an MOU on bilateral health cooperation in the afternoon US Secretary of Health and Human Services (HHS) Alex Azar yesterday arrived in Taipei aboard a US government plane at the head of a delegation that is the highest-level visit by a US official since Washington switched diplomatic recognition to China in 1979. Azar’s flight landed at Taipei International Airport (Songshan airport) at 4:48pm, nearly one hour earlier than scheduled, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs said. The apron where it landed is reserved for military aircraft, the Songshan Air Force Base Command said. The members of Azar’s delegation included HHS Assistant Secretary for Preparedness and Response Robert Kadlec, HHS Chief of Staff Brian
CHINESE FIGHTERS: Beijing marked the US Cabinet member’s visit by briefly sending two warplanes across the median line of the Taiwan Strait yesterday morning President Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文) yesterday met with US Secretary of Health and Human Services Alex Azar in the highest-level official meeting between the two nations since 1979. “It is a true honor to be here to convey a message of strong support and friendship from [US] President [Donald] Trump to Taiwan,” Azar said during the open portion of his courtesy call to the Presidential Office, which was streamed live online before Tsai and Azar held a closed-door meeting. “Taiwan’s response to COVID-19 has been among the most successful in the world, and that is a tribute to the open, transparent,
PARTNERSHIP AND LEARNING: A Princeton University health policy researcher said that the nation would be a ‘treasure trove’ of information for the US health chief US Secretary of Health and Human Services Alex Azar on Friday said he wants to learn about Taiwan’s “incredibly effective” response to COVID-19, even though the nation did things that the US has fumbled, such as having a unified strategy and citizens willing to wear masks. Azar leads a US delegation arriving today for a three-day visit to Taiwan. They are to meet with President Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文) and health system leaders, and Azar is to give a speech to public health graduates. “The message of this trip is about Taiwan,” Azar said in an interview, deflecting a question about China.
Taiwanese-independence advocates yesterday accused former president Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九) of breaking national security laws and called on the judiciary to investigate after his statement that “China will wage a battle, which will be quick and will be the last battle for Taiwan.” Ma showed his true colors “as a mouthpiece of the Chinese Communist Party” in his speech on Monday when he said the “first battle will be the last,” Taiwan Republic Office (台灣國辦公室) director Chilly Chen (陳峻涵) said. “Ma is threatening Taiwanese by claiming that Beijing will launch a quick invasion of Taiwan, but that the US military will have no