As it happenedended1517850883

Nunes memo release - as it happened: Attorney General Jeff Sessions to refer Trump-Russia document to Department of Justice watchdog

The memo has created a fierce divide between Republicans and Democrats 

Donald Trump says Nunes memo is declassified and Congress will "do whatever" with it

A controversial memo alleging abuse of authority by the FBI in its Russia investigation has been declassified and released to the public.

The memo, written by the staff of House Intelligence Committee Chairman Devin Nunes, raises concerns about the FBI's use of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) in relation into the investigation into possible connections between officials in Donald Trump's presidential campaign and Russia

Their findings "represent a troubling breakdown of legal processes established to protect the American people from abuses related to the FISA process", the document states.

Mr Trump allowed the House Intelligence Committee to release the report to the public on Friday without redactions. The president called the contents of the memo "a disgrace" and, in relation to the FBI, that "a lot of people should be ashamed of themselves". He declined to say whether he still had faith in Rod Rosenstein, the deputy attorney general overseeing the federal investigation.

Scroll down to see how we covered the release of the memo live.

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Democrats claimed the release of the memo was an attempt to discredit this investigation – one which would set a dangerous precedent that would do "long-term damage" to the US intelligence community.

Much of the memo concerns the process by which the FBI obtained a FISA warrant to surveil former Trump campaign advisor Carter Page, claiming the warrant application was informed largely by a Democrat-funded opposition research dossier compiled by former MI6 agent Christopher Steele.

Republicans and Democrats have fiercely debated the release of the memo since last month, when Mr Nunes made it available to members of the House. Adam Schiff, the ranking Democrat on the Intelligence Committee, claimed the memo "mischaracterises highly sensitive classified information" in order to suit Republicans' political aims.

“Chairman Nunes’ decision ... to publicly release misleading allegations against the Department of Justice and Federal Bureau of Investigation is a shameful effort to discredit these institutions, undermine the Special Counsel’s ongoing investigation, and undercut congressional probes," Mr Schiff said.

The congressman claimed the FISA warrant to surveil Mr Page had been properly obtained, and was not based entirely on the Steele dossier. He added that Democrats would seek a vote to release their response to the memo, which he claimed pointed out several other factual errors.

The FBI cautioned against releasing the memo in a rare public statement this week, saying they had "grave concerns" about its accuracy.

Former FBI Director James Comey - fired by Mr Trump last year - tweeted that the newly released Republican-written memo doesn't add up to much. Mr Comey asked on Twitter, “That's it?”

He called the memo “dishonest and misleading” and not worth the damage it's done to public trust in U.S. intelligence agencies.

Mr Trump did not signal what, if any, other steps he would take in response to the memo.

"Congress will do whatever they're going to do," he said as he confirmed his support for the memo's release

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Welcome to our coverage of the reaction to the release of the controversial memo detailing allegations of FBI abuses during their investigation into possible links between the campaign of President Donald trump and Russia.

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Here is our first full report on the release:

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The reaction is coming in thick and fast - not surprising given the political division it has caused between Republicans, who believe it shows FBI bias against President Trump, and Democrats who believe it has wrongly hurt the reputation of both the FBI and the Department of Justice.

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Former FBI director James Comey - fired by Mr Trump last year - has weighed in:

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The release of the memo is the end of a long wrangle over whether the document should see the light of day publicly.

Here is a timeline of events:

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The American Civil Liberties Union has responded to the release of the Nunes memo with the following statement, from Christopher Anders, the deputy director of the ACLU's Washington legislative office:

“The completeness and accuracy of government representations to the FISA court are longstanding concerns. The Nunes memo makes serious charges of FBI and Justice Department misconduct in obtaining a warrant to surveil an American citizen, but on its own does not contain the facts needed to substantiate its charges. “Rather than one side or the other cherry-picking facts, all Americans deserve to see all of the facts, including both the minority report and the underlying documents. The goal should be more transparency, not less, particularly when a congressional committee chairman makes serious charges of abuse but does not provide the facts to either prove the charges or allow Americans to make up our own minds.”

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US Attorney General Jeff Sessions is planning to refer the declassified memo alleging Justice Department bias against President Trump to the department's internal watchdog office for investigation.

In a statement, Mr Sessions said he had received inquiries from Congress raising concerns "about the department's performance" and that he would forward those issues to "the appropriate DOJ components."

He also praised the rank and file staff of the department, saying he has "great confidence" in them.

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Republican Senator John McCain, who is regarded as a heavyweight in Congress on foreign affairs, has strongly criticised his fellow Republicans and President Trump for attacking the FBI and the Justice Department.

"Our nation's elected officials, including the president, must stop looking at this investigation through the warped lens of politics and manufacturing partisan sideshows. If we continue to undermine our own rule of law, we are doing Putin's job for him," Mr McCain said in a statement, referring to Russian President Vladimir Putin.

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Following the release of the Nunes memo, some are wondering if there is a way to release the counter-memo written by Democrats on the House Intelligence Committee.

The memo, written by Rep Adam Schiff -- the top Democrat on that committee -- is 10 pages long, and says that the Nunes memo is an attempt to help the White House distance itself from the Russia investigation.

Democrats have repeatedly charged that the Nunes memo is motivated primarily to discredit the Russia probe.

That said, it appears likely that the Democrats would have to force another Intelligence Committee vote on their memo, and receive White House approval, to release their version of the document.

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Carter Page, the former Trump campaign official who the FBI too out the surveillance warrant against, has had his say:

“The brave and assiduous oversight by Congressional leaders in discovering this unprecedented abuse of process represents a giant, historic leap in the repair of America’s democracy."

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