The FBI on Wednesday pushed back against any attempt by the White House to release a classified House Intelligence Committee memo that Republicans say shows anti-Trump bias by the federal law enforcement agency and the Justice Department.
The Federal Bureau of Investigation, in a rare public statement, said it had “grave concerns” over the document’s accuracy and had been given little time to review it.
The rebuke comes just hours after White House chief of staff John Kelly said he expected the memo to be made public “pretty quick.”
On Tuesday, President Donald Trump told lawmakers after his televised address to Congress that there was a “100 percent” chance it would be released.
The memo has become a lightning rod in a bitter partisan fight amid ongoing investigations into alleged Russian meddling in the 2016 U.S. election and any possible collusion by Trump’s campaign, something both Russia and Trump have denied.
“The FBI was provided a limited opportunity to review this memo the day before the committee voted to release it. As expressed during our initial review, we have grave concerns about material omissions of fact that fundamentally impact the memo’s accuracy,” the FBI said in a statement.
Republicans, who blocked an effort to release a counterpoint memo by Democrats on the panel, have said it shows anti-Trump bias by the FBI and the Justice Department in seeking a warrant to conduct an intelligence eavesdropping operation.
Democrats have said the memo selectively uses highly classified materials in a misleading effort to discredit Special Counsel Robert Mueller, who is leading the Justice Department’s Russia probe, and Deputy U.S. Attorney General Rod Rosenstein, who hired him.
The House panel this week voted along partisan lines to release the memo. Trump has until the weekend to decide whether to make it public.
“It will be released here pretty quick, I think, and then the whole world can see it,” Kelly told Fox News Radio, adding he had seen the four-page document and that White House lawyers were reviewing it.
White House spokeswoman Sarah Sanders told CNN on Wednesday the memo was still being reviewed and “there’s always a chance” that it would not be released.
Justice Department officials have warned that releasing the memo would be reckless. On Monday, department officials advised Kelly against releasing the memo on the grounds it could jeopardize classified information, the Washington Post reported.
The document was commissioned by Representative Devin Nunes, the House committee’s Republican chairman who had recused himself from the panel’s Russia probe.
Sanders told CNN she did not know if Nunes had worked with anyone at the White House on the memo, and that Trump had not seen it before his address on Tuesday night or immediately afterwards.