Trump lashes out at Schiff over Russia probe memo

President Donald Trump has lashed out at the top Democrat on the House Intelligence Committee, a day after Democrats and Republicans said the president was wrong to assert that a GOP-produced classified memo on FBI surveillance powers cleared him in the Russia investigation.

The House intelligence panel plans to meet on Monday afternoon and is expected to consider whether to release a Democratic rebuttal memo.

The committee rejected that move last week, with one Republican member saying revisions were needed so the memo would not endanger national security.

President Trump would decide whether to release the memo if it contains classified information.

A White House official said that the administration would consider releasing the Democratic memo, subjecting it to a similar review process as the Republican memo.

The Senate's Democratic leader, Chuck Schumer of New York, has urged President Trump to back the public release and said that refusing to do so would show the president's intent to undermine the Russia investigation.

Special counsel Robert Mueller is investigating possible collusion between the Trump 2016 presidential campaign and Russia as well as whether there have been efforts to obstruct the investigation.

House Speaker Paul Ryan has said he supports the release of the Democrats' memo, if sensitive intelligence information is removed.

President Trump strode into the debate Monday on Twitter, saying: "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! Adam leaves closed committee hearings to illegally leak confidential information. Must be stopped!"

Mr Schiff has branded the GOP memo "a political hit job" and has questioned whether the chairman, Rep Devin Nunes, had coordinated with the White House in drafting the document seized on by the president to vent his grievances against the nation's premier law enforcement agencies.

"The goal here is to undermine the FBI, discredit the FBI, discredit the Mueller investigation, do the president's bidding," Mr Schiff said.

"I think it's very possible his staff worked with the White House."

Mr Nunes was asked during a January 29 committee meeting whether he had coordinated the memo with the White House.

"As far as I know, no," he responded, then refused to answer when asked whether his staff members had communicated with the White House.

He had previously apologised for sharing with the White House secret intelligence intercepts related to an investigation of Russian election interference before talking to committee members.

- PA

 

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