The Latest: Comey defends FBI from Republican attacks

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Posted: Feb 01, 2018 10:02 PM
The Latest: Comey defends FBI from Republican attacks

WASHINGTON (AP) — The Latest on investigations into contacts between President Donald Trump's campaign and Russia (all times local):

9:55 p.m.

Former FBI Director James Comey is defending the agency on Twitter, saying, "All should appreciate the FBI speaking up."

President Donald Trump and congressional Republicans have been attacking the FBI and the Justice Department. Trump is expected to clear the way soon for the publication of a classified memo that Republicans say shows improper use of surveillance by the FBI in its investigation of potential ties between Russia and Trump's 2016 campaign.

The Justice Department and Democrats say the memo could harm national security and mislead the public.

Comey is urging his former colleagues to "take heart." He says, "American history shows that, in the long run, weasels and liars never hold the field, so long as good people stand up."

Comey was fired by Trump in May 2017.

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3:00 p.m.

White House officials say President Donald Trump will clear the way for the publication of a controversial GOP-authored memo, despite objections from the FBI.

The memo was prepared by Republicans on the House Intelligence Committee and is said to allege misconduct by the FBI in its investigation of potential ties between Russia and Trump's 2016 campaign.

Trump's own Justice Department and Democrats furiously lobbied Trump to stop the release, saying it could harm national security and mislead the public.

A White House official said Congress would likely be informed of the decision Friday, adding Trump was "ok" with the release. A second White House official said Trump was likely to declassify the congressional memo but that the precise method for making it public was still being finalized.

The officials were not authorized to discuss internal deliberations and spoke on condition of anonymity.

—By Zeke Miller

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2:50 p.m.

The FBI Agents Association says it appreciates FBI Director Christopher Wray "standing shoulder to shoulder with the men and women of the FBI as we work together to protect our country from criminal and national security threats."

Wray and the FBI have expressed concern about the potential release of a Republican memo on the Russia investigation that they say is inaccurate and has important omissions.

Wray has spoken privately to the White House about his concerns, and the FBI laid them out Wednesday in an unusual written statement.

In a statement Thursday, the agents association says the FBI remains "focused on our important work to protect the country from terrorists and criminals." The association says FBI agents take an oath both to the country and to the Constitution.

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2:10 p.m.

The top Democrat on the House Intelligence Committee says he's proud of FBI Director Christopher Wray for standing up for his agents and voicing his objections to President Donald Trump about the release of a GOP-authored classified memo.

Rep. Adam Schiff of California says Wray may not want his praise. But Schiff says "those kinds of things give me hope."

The lawmaker made the comments in a speech at the University of Pennsylvania.

Schiff accuses committee Republicans, led by chairman Devin Nunes, of "selectively" declassifying certain pieces of information to "support a narrative favorable to the president."

Trump's expected to approve the release of the memo as early as later Thursday.

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12 p.m.

The White House is in the final stages of reviewing a classified congressional memo on the Russia investigation that President Donald Trump has said he wants released.

Officials say Trump has read the four-page document and been briefed on it.

White House officials say they're taking input from lawyers and the intelligence community on any redactions that should be made. But spokesman Raj Shah says White House involvement is limited to whether the memo should be blocked from release, as opposed to whether to release it.

The memo was prepared by Republican staff on the House Intelligence Committee. It purports to allege surveillance abuses during the FBI's investigation into potential ties between Trump campaign associates and Russia.

Democrats call the memo a "cherry-picked" list of Republican talking points.

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11:19 a.m.

The House's top Democrat wants the Republican chairman of the House Intelligence Committee to be removed from his post.

House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi says Rep. Devin Nunes of California took "deliberately dishonest actions" by altering a classified GOP-written memo on the investigation into Russia's election influence.

Pelosi made the demand Thursday in a letter to House Speaker Paul Ryan.

She says Nunes' actions "make him unfit to serve as chairman." Democrats have accused Nunes of altering the memo after the intelligence panel voted to send it to President Donald Trump for potential public release. The FBI has said it has "grave concerns" about the memo's accuracy.

Pelosi says Nunes' actions violate House rules and are aimed at discrediting the probe into Russia's role in helping to elect Trump.

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12:28 a.m.

The potential release of a House committee's classified memo has the FBI in a remarkably public clash of will with the White House.

The FBI says it has "grave concerns" about the accuracy of the memo, which involves the committee's investigation of Russian meddling in the 2016 election.

Further complicating the memo's release, the top Democrat on the committee says its vote to release the memo is invalid because Republicans "secretly altered" the memo.

The agency's stance escalates the dispute and means President Donald Trump will be openly defying his hand-picked FBI director by continuing to push for the memo's disclosure.

It also suggests a clear willingness by FBI Director Christopher Wray to challenge a president who just months ago fired his predecessor, James Comey.