A US Congressional committee has voted to release a memo that Democrats claim will rebut a separate, controversial memo alleging FBI bias against President Donald Trump. He has five days to decide on releasing the paper.
The Intelligence Committee of the US House of Representatives voted unanimously on Monday to release a Democratic rebuttal to a memo written by the panel's Republicans that accused FBI and Justice Department officials of bias against President Donald Trump in the Russia investigation.
Trump now has five days to decide whether to block the release of the classified document.
The committee's ranking Democrat, Adam Schiff, told reporters the document would reach the White House by Monday night, and that it would be "very hard" for the Trump administration to block its release.
The Democratic memo aims to counter the Republican document, which accuses the FBI and Justice Department of abuses of their authority in monitoring a one-time Trump campaign associate.
Earlier on Monday, Trump traded insults with Schiff on Twitter, labeling Schiff "one of the biggest liars and leakers in Washington." He added that Schiff "must be stopped."
A spokesman for the White House, Raj Shah, said that the five-day consideration period would "allow for a legal review, national security review led by the White House counsel's office."
Support for release of the document
The speaker of the House of Representatives, Republican Paul Ryan, has said he supports the release of the Democrats' memo, if sensitive intelligence information is removed.
The senior Democrat in the Senate, Chuck Schumer of New York, urged Trump to back the public release and said refusing to do so would show the president's intent to undermine the Russia investigation.
On Sunday, Republicans as well as Democrats said Trump was wrong to claim that the earlier, Republican-drafted memo cleared him in the Russia investigation.
Special prosecutor Robert Mueller is investigating possible collusion between the Trump 2016 presidential campaign and Russia as well as whether there have been efforts to obstruct the investigation.
Republican memo criticized
House member Schiff had branded the Republican memo "a political hit job" and questioned whether House Intelligence Committee chairman, Republican Devin Nunes, had coordinated with the White House in drafting the document.
"The goal here is to undermine the FBI, discredit the FBI, discredit the Mueller investigation, do the president's bidding," said Schiff. "I think it's very possible his staff worked with the White House."
The Republican memo, which was released on Friday, alleges misconduct on the part of the FBI and the Justice Department in obtaining a warrant under the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act to monitor former Trump campaign foreign policy adviser Carter Page and his ties to Russia.
The underlying materials that served as the basis for the warrant application were not made public in the Republican memo. Democrats described it as inaccurate, while some Republicans said that Mueller's investigation is politically tainted.
The memo's central allegation is that agents and prosecutors, in applying in October 2016 for a warrant to monitor Page's communications, failed to tell a judge that the opposition research that provided grounds for the FBI's suspicion got funding from Hillary Clinton's presidential campaign and the Democratic National Committee.
av/gsw (Reuters, AP, AFP)