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Archive for February 5th, 2018

Trump’s Tough Choice: Release Memo Rebuttal Or Risk Perilous Standoff

President Trump, via White House

By Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

The Republican-led House Intelligence Committee voted unanimously Monday to publicly disclose a classified, Democratic rebuttal of the much-disputed GOP memo that set off a political firestorm that continued to rage this week.

Now Donald Trump has five days to decide whether he wants to block the document’s release. If he objects to the disclosure, the full House has the option of accepting the decision or trying to override the president in what certainly would set the stage for an ugly, high-stakes standoff with Democrats, some Republicans and federal law enforcement agencies.

The Democratic rebuttal disputes the GOP memo, which alleges the FBI and Justice Department abused their powers to spy on former Trump campaign adviser, Carter Page, who was suspected of being a Russian agent.

The president and his congressional allies contend the alleged surveillance abuses demonstrate an anti-Trump bias in the FBI and Justice Department, which are overseeing the special counsel investigation of Trump and Russia.

As the investigation heats up and is focusing on whether the president obstructed justice by interfering in the probe, Trump’s strategy has been to cast himself as the victim of the “single biggest witch hunt” in U.S. history. The Republican memo provided the president with ammunition to ramp up his assault on the agencies’ reputations.

But the release of the Democratic memo could undermine Trump’s narrative, which has been dismissed by congressional members from both parties and the FBI and DOJ as a reckless, shameless campaign to cast doubts about any conclusions drawn during the probe.

A White House official told the New York Times that it would review the memo before deciding whether to block it. 

“We will consider it along the same terms that we considered the Nunes memo — which is to allow for a legal review — national security review — led by the White House Counsel’s Office,” spokesman Raj Shah told reporters aboard Air Force One.

Trump Slams Leading Memo Critic Ahead of Push to Release Democrats’ Rebuttal

President Trump

By Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

President Trump woke up this morning ready for war.

Two days after he claimed a much-disputed memo “totally vindicates” him in the special counsel investigation, Democrats on the House Intelligence Committee plan to fight tonight for the release of their rebuttal memo, which strongly disputes the Republican-drafted document. 

At stake is a Trump-driven narrative, fueled by the memo’s release last week, that claims the FBI and Justice Department are bent on destroying the president and therefore cannot be trusted to oversee Robert Mueller’s investigation into whether the president obstructed justice or his campaign colluded with Russia to interfere with the 2016 presidential election.

The argument stems from the committee’s GOP-drafted memo, which Republicans released last week over the strong objections of the FBI and DOJ. The narrative is vital to shed doubt on the integrity of the special counsel probe, which is picking up steam and has reached the doors of the White House.

Some committee Republicans, including Chairman Devin Nunes, R-California, have expressed a willingness to release the rebuttal once it’s properly vetted.

On Twitter this morning, Trump launched a preemptive strike at Democratic Congressman Adam Schiff, the committee’s most vocal critic of the Republican memo, which suggests the FBI and DOJ abused their authority to spy on former Trump campaign adviser, Carter Page, who was suspected of being a Russian agent.

“Little Adam Schiff, who is desperate to run for higher office, is one of the biggest liars and leakers in Washington, right up there with Comey, Warner, Brennan and Clapper!” Trump tweeted. “Adam leaves closed committee hearings to illegally leak confidential information. Must be stopped!”

The president didn’t elaborate.

Even if the committee approves the release of the rebuttal, Trump would have five days to review the document and decide whether it should be declassified and released.

If the president objects, the committee has the option of sending the memo to the full House for another vote.

Priebus: ‘Never Felt’ Trump Was Planning to Fire Special Counsel Mueller

Former White chief of staff Reince Priebus on “Meet the Press.”

By Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

Former White chief of staff Reince Priebus disputed reports Sunday that Donald Trump tried to fire the special counsel appointed to investigate his administration’s ties to Russia.

“Of all the things that we went through in the West Wing, I never felt that the president was going to fire the special counsel,” Priebus said on NBC’s “Meet The Press” in his first interview since leaving the White House last summer. “I would know the difference between a level-ten situation as reported in that story and what was reality, and to me that wasn’t reality.” 

The New York Times reported in January that Trump ordered the termination of Robert Mueller but backed off after the White Counsel threatened to quit to avoid following the directive.

Priebus also denied a Washington Post report that cited sources saying he was “incredibly concerned” that Trump would try to fire Mueller, who now is investigating whether the president obstructed justice.

“I think it was very clear by the president’s own words that he was concerned about the conflicts of interest that he felt that the special counsel had. And he made that very clear,” Priebus said. “Perhaps someone interpreted that to mean something else. But I know the difference between fire that person, why isn’t that person gone, to what I read in that New York Times’ piece. So when I read that I’m just telling you I didn’t feel that when I was there.”

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