Nunes memo: Jeff Sessions suggests he will take allegations against FBI and Justice Department further

Attorney General says 'no department is perfect'

Jeremy B. White
San Francisco
Saturday 03 February 2018 01:41
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Donald Trump says Nunes memo is declassified and Congress will "do whatever" with it

Attorney General Jeff Sessions suggested he planned to refer a newly released memo alleging bias against Donald Trump to the Justice Department’s internal watchdog.

Capping weeks of political turmoil, House Republicans released a memo questioning the “legitimacy and legality” of the Justice Department and the FBI obtaining authorisation to surveil Carter Page, who advised Mr Trump’s presidential campaign.

The request to conduct electronic surveillance on Mr Page fit into a larger investigation of Russian attempts to influence the 2016 election.

Special counsel Robert Mueller has been leading a probe of potential links between the Russian government and the Trump campaign, an effort that Mr Trump has repeatedly denounced as a partisan “witch hunt”.

In a statement following the memo’s release, Mr Sessions said Congress had spotlighted “an issue of great importance for the country” and noted that “concerns had been raised” about the performance of the Justice Department, which he leads as America’s top law enforcement official.

While he said in a statement he had “great confidence” in the Justice Department’s employees, Mr Sessions added that “no Department is perfect”.

“Accordingly, I will forward to appropriate DOJ components all information I receive from Congress regarding this,” Mr Sessions said, vowing to “fully and fairly ascertain the truth”.

In the days before the memo was made public, the Department of Justice urged Republicans to reconsider. A letter from Assistant Attorney General Stephen Boyd warned Republicans that releasing the memo would be “extraordinarily reckless” and said the department had no evidence of surveillance abuses.

Mr Sessions last year recused himself from any investigations related to the 2016 presidential campaign, a move that followed revelations he had not disclosed meetings with Russian Ambassador Sergey Kislyak to Congress.

According to the memo, an FBI counterintelligence investigation opened in July 2016 and was “triggered” by information about former Trump campaign aide George Papadopoulos, who has pleaded guilty to lying to FBI agents about contacts with Russian emissaries.

Papadopoulos floated arranging a meeting between Mr Trump and Russian President Vladimir Putin during a March 2016 campaign meeting attended by Mr Trump and top campaign officials, according to court documents. Mr Sessions has confirmed he was at the meeting but said he had no recollection of it until he read about Papadopoulos’ plea.

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