White House chief of staff John Kelly advised President Donald Trump that the controversial surveillance memo wasn't nearly as compelling as advertised, The Washington Post reported.
Kelly also gave his opinion that the memo, authored by House Intelligence Committee Chairman Rep. Devin Nunes, was not a threat to national security, the Post reported.
Trump read the memo for the first time Wednesday afternoon, the Post reports.
Axios also reported Wednesday a growing fear in the White House that the memo was not the "slam dunk" advisers were hoping for.
The crux of the memo already has been public for some time:
Nunes and committee Republicans accuse the Justice Department of abusing Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) guidelines in its warrant to extend surveillance on Carter Page, a one-time campaign adviser to Trump.
Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein approved the application, given the DOJ's suspicion that Page was acting as a Russian agent. However, the Nunes memo accuses the DOJ of acting on unverified information in the Trump dossier as the basis for its warrant.
A parade of intelligence officials — including Rosenstein, FBI Director Chris Wray, Director of National Intelligence Dan Coats — have met or called Kelly appealing to him to keep the memo confidential, but to no avail.
Democrats accuse Trump of ulterior motives in his bid to release the memo, saying if he can use the memo to make a case that his own Justice Department is biased against him, he can fire Rosenstein and special counsel Robert Mueller, appointed by Rosenstein.
"The president is looking for a reason to fire Bob Mueller; the president is looking for a reason to fire Rod Rosenstein," House intel ranking Democrat Rep. Adam Schiff said Thursday.
"The White House knows it would face a firestorm if it fired Bob Mueller. What's more effective is to fire Bob Mueller's boss. Now, why is that more effective? Rod Rosenstein decides the scope of Bob Mueller's investigation."
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