Trump approves release of secret memo in fight over Russia probe

By Doina Chiacu and Steve Holland

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – U.S. President Donald Trump on Friday approved the release of a classified Republican memo that alleges bias against him at the FBI and Justice Department, in an extraordinary showdown with his own senior law enforcement officials over the probe into alleged Russian interference in the 2016 election.

Trump told reporters he had sent the memo to Congress and it was now declassified, adding that the contents of the controversial document tell a disgraceful story and that “a lot of people should be ashamed.”

The four-page document was expected to be made public later on Friday, Fox News reported, citing unidentified sources.

Trump, a Republican, has repeatedly complained about his treatment by federal investigators who are probing possible collusion between his campaign and Russia to sway the 2016 presidential election, and any actions to impede the investigation.

The document has become a flashpoint in a battle between Republicans and Democrats over Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s probe.

It was commissioned by the Republican chairman of the House of Representatives Intelligence Committee, Devin Nunes. It purports to show that the Federal Bureau of Investigation and Justice Department misled a U.S. court in seeking to extend electronic surveillance of Trump campaign adviser Carter Page, multiple sources familiar with it have said.

Two days ago, in a rare public rebuke of the president and Republicans in Congress who are pushing to release the classified memo, the FBI said it had “grave concerns about material omissions of fact” in the document and it should not be made public.

Democrats have depicted the memo, which was crafted by Republican members of the intelligence panel, as misleading, based on a selective use of highly classified data and intended to discredit Mueller’s work.

Russia has denied meddling in the election campaign. Trump, calling Mueller’s probe a political witch hunt, has denied collusion or obstruction of justice.

(Reporting by Susan Heavey, Doina Chiacu and Justin Mitchell in Washington, and Amanda Becker in White Sulphur Springs, W.Va; Writing by Doina Chiacu and Alistair Bell; Editing by Frances Kerry)

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