WASHINGTON – President Donald Trump said Saturday that a recently released memorandum of Congress fully supports his suspicions that the FBI abused surveillance powers by investigating the possible links of his campaign team with Russia.
However, that memo also includes revelations that could complicate the efforts of Trump and his allies to undermine the investigation of special prosecutor Robert Mueller.
The four-page document published on Friday contends that the FBI, when it requested a surveillance order for a Trump campaign associate, relied excessively on what was said by a British ex-spy whose research was funded by the Democrats.
At the same time, the memorandum confirms that the investigation into Trump’s possible links with Russia began several months earlier and that it was “triggered” by information involving another adviser to the Trump campaign.
Christopher Steele, the ex-spy who compiled the accusations, admitted to feeling a strong rejection towards Trump, but the memo also admits that Steele was a “long-time source of the FBI,” with a credible record. The memorandum was written by the president of the Intelligence Commission of the House of Representatives, the Republican representative Devin Nunes and his staff.
The order authorising the FBI to monitor the communications of former campaign adviser Carter Page, was not a single request, but was approved by a judge four times, states the memo, which even indicates that it was signed by the second highest official ranking in the Department of Justice, Rod Rosenstein, whom Trump appointed as undersecretary of Justice.
Trump, however, tweeted on Saturday that the memorandum makes everything clear.
Even before Trump removed the confidentiality locks that weighed on the memo, he told his associates that he believed it would endorse his allegations that the FBI and the Justice Department have conspired against him.
The president tweeted on Saturday from Florida, where he spent the weekend.
“This memo completely verifies the ‘investigation against Trump,'” he said. “But the Russian witch hunt goes on and on, there was no collusion and there was no obstruction (a word they use now because, after a year of looking endlessly and not finding ANYTHING, the collusion is dead.) This is a shame for the USA! “
The underlying information that served as the basis for the request for the order was not made public in the memorandum.
As a result, the document only intensified a partisan battle over the interpretation of the actions of the FBI and the Department of Justice during the early stages of the counterintelligence investigation that Mueller inherited later.
Some Republicans are citing the memo, published despite the objections raised by the FBI and the Justice Department, to claim that the Mueller investigation is politically biased.
On the other hand, the US Department of Justice asked a judge to dismiss a lawsuit filed by Paul Manafort, former president of Trump’s presidential campaign.
Manafort was indicted in October as part of the investigation by special prosecutor Robert Mueller on Russia’s interference in the 2016 electoral campaign, which Trump won. Manafort filed a lawsuit last month to challenge the scope of Mueller’s appointment and his authority.
In a court filing, the government considered that the judge should dismiss that claim.
Attorneys at the Department of Justice argue that federal courts are prohibited from interfering with ongoing criminal proceedings.
They added that Mueller has been working properly and that he has not abused his authority.
The Department says that if Manafort believes that he is being unfairly prosecuted, then he may file a motion in his criminal case to try to have the case dismissed.
Manafort is one of the four people accused so far in Mueller’s investigation.