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Paul Ryan Has Warning for Fellow Republicans on Memo

Don't overstate its importance, he implores them
By Newser Editors,  Newser Staff
Posted Jan 30, 2018 3:40 PM CST

(Newser) – A House panel's decision to release a classified memo critical of the FBI and Justice Department's role in the Russia investigation continued to reverberate on Capitol Hill Tuesday, but Paul Ryan had a warning for his fellow Republicans. Politico reports that in a closed-door meeting, Ryan implored them not to overstate the memo's significance. In a news conference afterward, Ryan reiterated: "This is a completely separate matter from Bob Muller’s investigation, and his investigation should be allowed to take its course," he said. However, Ryan made clear he supports the release of the memo—President Trump has yet to make the final decision—and added that it shows that "there may have been malfeasance at the FBI by certain individuals." Related developments:

  • Second dossier? The memo debate stems from a controversial dossier compiled about President Trump during the campaign. Now the Guardian reports that a second dossier was compiled by a different author, and it's under review by the FBI. The author is Cody Shearer, a political activist reviled by conservatives as having a left-wing bias. One key line from the story: "(B)oth documents allege Donald Trump was compromised during a 2013 trip to Moscow that involved lewd acts in a five-star hotel."

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  • GOP strategy: At Axios, Mike Allen and Jonathan Swan write that Republicans have one goal in releasing the memo: Muddy the waters. "Trump's allies are betting that when all is said and done—and when special counsel Bob Mueller has completed his report—the American people will be so thoroughly disgusted with everyone that the political outcome is a wash." Allen also provides "10 undisputed facts" about the Russia probe that he says show Mueller's investigation is justified.
  • From the right: Mollie Hemingway of the Federalist points out that the memo has been available to all House members for a week now, and "some of those who read it described it as 'troubling,' 'shocking,' 'jaw-dropping,' 'sickening,' and 'criminal.'" She goes on to call out Democrat Adam Schiff for repeatedly distorting facts. Schiff is seen as a "straight-shooter," she writes, but "his record in reality is of fanning the flames of absolutely every single Trump-Russia collusion allegation out there."
  • How did we get here? The Washington Post has a primer on how the four-page classified memo became so controversial. A key point is that it raises questions about how the FBI obtained permission from the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court to start surveillance on Trump campaign adviser Carter Page. The memo reportedly asserts that the court was not told that the FBI's justification for the surveillance came from a dossier bankrolled by the Democratic Party and Hillary Clinton's campaign.
  • What's next: The memo is now under review by the White House legal team, reports CBS News. The president has five days to decide whether to release it, and he is widely expected to do so. The House intelligence panel also is deciding what to do with a Democratic rebuttal memo.
  • Another target: The New York Times reports the memo shows that Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein signed off on the surveillance of Page, who was suspected of being a Russian agent. Trump considered firing Rosenstein over the summer and has been expressing frustration about him privately once again, the Times reports.
A Republican congressman says the memo will show that the "fix was in" to get Trump. (Read more Paul Ryan stories.)

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