Dems say memo aims to protect Trump, smear FBI

President Donald Trump listens during a meeting with North Korean defectors where he talked with reporters about allowing the release of a secret memo on the FBI's role in the Russia inquiry, in the Oval Office of the White House, Friday, Feb. 2, 2018, in Washington. (AP Photo/Evan Vucci)

WASHINGTON (AP/WDTN) — House Democrats are angry about the release of a classified GOP memo intended to show surveillance abuses at the FBI. They say it’s an underhanded effort to protect President Donald Trump and discredit the investigations into Russian election meddling.

Democrats on the House intelligence panel had tried to block the memo’s release. They say it mischaracterizes the motivations behind a 2016 surveillance warrant on Trump campaign official Carter Page.

They also criticized House Intelligence Committee Chairman Devin Nunes for not having read the classified material that formed the basis for the memo.

House Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi says that by disclosing classified information, Trump had “sent his friend Putin a bouquet.” She’s referring to Russian President Vladimir Putin.

Democrats on the House Judiciary committee said House Republicans are “accomplices” to obstruction of justice.

Attorney General Jeff Sessions is defending his deputy in the face of criticism from the president.

Sessions broke from prepared remarks in a speech Friday on human trafficking. He praised Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein as well as the department’s No. 3 official, Rachel Brand.

Sessions says both are experienced lawyers and “represent the kind of quality and leadership that we want in the department.”

That’s a departure from President Donald Trump, who was asked Friday whether he has confidence in Rosenstein. Trump said, “You figure that one out.”

The criticism stems from a newly declassified GOP memo alleging the FBI abused surveillance powers in its investigation into possible cooperation between Russia and the Trump campaign.

Trump said, “A lot of people should be ashamed of themselves.”

Ohio Representative Mike Turner (R) released a statement Friday on the release of the memo.

“I agree with the President’s decision to release this information to the American public. We entrust these institutions, the FBI and DoJ, with incredible power. Abuses of these powers are a threat to our democracy and need to be addressed,” Turner said.

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