WASHINGTON (CBSNewYork) — The White House is set to clear the way for releasing a controversial memo containing classified material as early as Friday.
As CBS2’s Dick Brennan reported Thursday afternoon, this comes as President Donald Trump continues to sell his immigration plan.
“We can finally pass immigration reform that protects our country, defends our borders, and modernizes our immigration rules to serve the needs of American workers and of American families,” Trump said as he addressed a retreat in West Virginia.
In his speech, Trump repeated many of his State of the Union address talking points. But he also said Republicans need to reach out to Democrats to get an immigration deal.
“You know, they talk a good game. We have to get help from the other side,” Trump said, “or we have to elect many more Republicans. That’s another way of doing it.”
But the president made no mention of another partisan battle — the release of a controversial White House memo containing classified information.
The memo, which was written by House Intelligence Committee Chairman Devin Nunes (R-California), alleges the FBI and the Department of Justice abused surveillance of Trump campaign officials – especially the monitoring of Carter Page, a Trump campaign foreign advisor.
“What this is, is Congress conducting oversight over a very unique law,” said House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-Wisconsin).
But Democrats say the memo is seriously misleading, and is designed to undermine Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s Russia investigation – specifically discrediting Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein, who oversees Mueller.
“What we don’t do is that we don’t cherry-pick classified information and publish it to give the country a misleading impression to protect the president’s hide,” said Rep. Adam Schiff (D-California).
“This memo is not an indictment of the FBI and of the Department of Justice,” Ryan said. “It does not impugn the Mueller investigation or the deputy attorney general.”
FBI Director Christopher Wray pushed to stop the memo from being released, saying he is concerned it paints a slanted narrative.
“If the White House decides to release the Nunes memo, Director Wray is prepared to issue a rebuttal,” said CBS News Senior National Security Analyst Fran Townsend.
A senior administration official tells CBS News the president is expected to tell Congress probably on Friday that he is OK with releasing the memo.
They say they decision was made after making sure it does not give away too much in terms of classification.
The official said there will probably not be any redactions, and then it is in the hands of the House Intelligence Committee, who has pushed for its release.