President Donald Trump told top aides on Wednesday to release the House Intelligence Committee's memo alleging Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) abuses by the FBI — putting him at odds with the Justice Department, The Washington Post reported Saturday.
President Trump "is inclined to have that released just because it will shed light," a senior administration official told the Post.
"Apparently, all the rumors are that it will shed light, it will help the investigators come to a conclusion," said the official, who was "speaking on the condition of anonymity to recount private conversations," the Post reported.
The FISA memo was produced by Intelligence Committee Chairman Devin Nunes, the California Republican, and his staff.
The document centers on the FBI's use of a dossier on Trump and Russia by former British intelligence agent Christopher Steele, alleging that the FISA judge who signed off on the warrant was not given full information about the dossier, including that Democratic sources later paid for it.
Republicans have called for document's release, while Democrats have charged that the memo was designed to discredit Mueller's probe.
But Assistant Attorney General Stephen Boyd told Nunes Wednesday that releasing the four-page document without prior review by the Justice Department and the FBI would be "extraordinarily reckless."
President Trump, however, said he wanted the document memo released, the Post said Saturday.
White House Chief of Staff John Kelly conveyed the president’s position to Attorney General Jeff Sessions in a telephone call later Wednesday.
They also had spoken earlier that day, "in person during a small-group afternoon meeting," according to the dispatch.
Ultimately, though, the decision to release Nunes' memo rests with Congress.
The White House debate over the document came as President Trump told reporters Wednesday that "I'm looking forward" to interviewing with Mueller under oath in the coming weeks but would follow the advice of his lawyers.
When asked whether he believed Mueller would be fair to him, President Trump responded: "We're going to find out."
But the president's lawyer, Ty Cobb, walked backed Trump's remarks, saying the president had spoken hurriedly before leaving for the World Economic Summit in Davos, Switzerland.
"He's ready to meet with them," Cobb told The New York Times, "but he'll be guided by the advice of his personal counsel."
Mueller's team continues to investigate Moscow's involvement in the 2016 presidential election, though it also is expected to address whether President Trump obstructed justice when he fired former FBI Director James Comey last May.
A person who has spoken with Mueller's team told the Post that investigators appeared to be designing questions that seek to examine obstruction-related issues.
"The questions are about who was where in every meeting, what happened before and after, what the president was saying as he made decisions," said the person, who was "speaking on the condition of anonymity to recount a private session."
He added that while it seemed unlikely Mueller's investigators would discover any evidence of a coordinated effort to aid the Russians, they might find more details to support obstruction of justice.
"If you were on the campaign, you know we couldn’t even collude with ourselves," the person told the Post.
Further, the Times reported Thursday that President Trump had ordered Mueller fired last June, but relented after White House counsel Don McGahn threatened to quit.
In response to various queries for its report, White House spokesman Hogan Gidley told the Post in a statement:
"The president has been clear publicly and privately that he wants absolute transparency throughout this process.
"Based on numerous news reports, top officials at the FBI have engaged in conduct that shows show bias against President Trump and bias for Hillary Clinton," Gidley said.
"The president has said repeatedly for months there is no consideration of terminating the special counsel."
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