FBI Director Christopher Wray publicly clashed with President Donald Trump on Wednesday over a controversial Republican intelligence memo, furthering the rift between the President and the agency investigating ties between his campaign and Russia.
Wray sent a striking signal to the White House, issuing a rare public warning that the memo about the FBI’s surveillance practices omits key information that could impact its veracity. The move set up an ugly confrontation between Wray and Trump, who wants the document released.
“With regard to the House Intelligence Committee’s memorandum, the FBI was provided a limited opportunity to review this memo the day before the committee voted to release it,” the FBI 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 dire warning stood in direct contrast to Trump, who has told his associates he wants the memo released to ensure full transparency. Earlier Wednesday, White House chief of staff John Kelly predicted the memo would be released “pretty quick” and that “the whole world will see it.” Trump himself was overheard telling a Republican congressman after the State of the Union address on Tuesday he will “100%” release the memo.
The FBI’s unusual public warning came after two days of private meetings between top Justice Department and White House officials, where the FBI’s entreaties to withhold the memo went largely unheeded by Trump’s aides.
Officials from the Justice Department and FBI went to the White House on Tuesday to make a renewed effort to explain certain inaccuracies they see in the Nunes memo, according to a source familiar with the discussions. The effort came a day after Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein and Wray made similar overtures to Kelly to delay a House Intelligence Commitee vote on releasing the memo.
Two administration officials told CNN the Nunes memo is not expected to be released Wednesday, but could be released as early as Thursday. Officials said the precise timing has not yet been decided and the memo remains under review.
SOURCE: Shimon Prokupecz, Laura Jarrett, Jim Sciutto, Abby Phillip and Kevin Liptak