The classified memo compiled by Republican staffers on the House Intelligence Committee reveals that Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosentstein, sometime after the Senate confirmed him last spring, approved an application to extend federal surveillance of Carter Page, an adviser on President Trump’s campaign until September 2016, The New York Times reports, citing “three people familiar with” the memo. The renewal application, presented to a FISA court, shows that even under Trump, the Justice Department saw reason to believe that Page “was acting as a Russian agent.” It’s not clear if the FISA court approved the request.
The House Intelligence Committee, led by Rep. Devin Nunes (R-Calif.), will vote as early as Monday on whether to declassify the memo, compiled under Nunes and shared with some House members. Trump would then have five days to try to block its release. The Justice Department warned Nunes last week that it would be “extraordinarily reckless” to release the memo without vetting from the intelligence community, but Trump is open about wanting it released.
Trump “has long been mistrustful” of Rosenstein, whom he appointed to the No. 2 Justice Department position, especially after Rosenstein name Special Counsel Robert Mueller to lead the DOJ’s investigation into Russian election meddling and the Trump campaign, The New York Times reports. Trump considered firing Rosenstein last summer before moving to fire Mueller instead, backing down when White House Counsel Don McGahn threatened to quit, the Times adds, but “Trump is now again telling associates that he is frustrated with Mr. Rosenstein.”
The secret Nunes memo apparently purports to show political bias against Trump at the leadership level of the FBI and Justice Department, though Democrats who have seen it say it is a cherry-picked selection of intelligence that paints a dangerously misleading picture devoid of context. Committee Democrats are putting together their own memo, just in case.