As House Republicans moved forward on releasing the so-called Nunes memo, the Justice Department, which was denied the opportunity to review the report, said the release of the document could prove “extraordinarily reckless.”
The House Republicans’ effort was denounced in writing by Stephen Boyd, a Trump-appointed assistant attorney general and former Senate aide to Jeff Sessions, who sent a letter to House Intelligence Committee Chairman Devin Nunes (R-Calif.) last week.
Donald Trump was reportedly outraged by Boyd’s letter, expecting his Justice Department to prioritize his political interests. With this in mind, it seems quite likely that the Republican president will be even angrier today.
Christopher A. Wray, the F.B.I. director, clashed publicly with the president for the first time on Wednesday, condemning a push by House Republicans to release a secret memo that purports to show how the bureau and the Justice Department abused their authorities to obtain a warrant to spy on a former Trump campaign adviser.
The “F.B.I. was provided a limited opportunity to review this memo the day before the committee voted to release it,” Mr. Wray 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.”
Note, Wray knows the White House wants to see the memo released to the public. Indeed, he and Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein were in the West Wing on Monday, urging caution.
Faced with the reality that Trump intends to ignore these warnings, the FBI director – chosen for the post by the president himself after Trump fired James Comey – issued a written statement, making clear he believes the Nunes memo paints an inaccurate picture.
And so, Trump is suddenly confronted with an interesting choice:
1. Heed his own FBI director’s warnings, keep the memo classified, and put the interests of federal law enforcement over his partisan agenda; or
2. Ignore Wray’s warnings and endorse the memo’s release, despite its inaccuracies.
It’s been a while since we’ve seen a president’s handpicked FBI director clash with the White House like this. Watch this space.