Trump lashes out at top Democrat over Russia probe memo

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US president Donald Trump has traded insults with the top Democrat on the House intelligence committee, a day after Democrats and Republicans said Mr Trump was wrong to assert that a classified memo on FBI surveillance powers had cleared him over the Russia investigation.

Mr Trump’s attack on California congressman Adam Schiff came before a meeting of the House intelligence panel, where the committee is expected to consider whether to release a Democratic rebuttal memo.

Democrats are seeking to push back on the Republican document, which questions methods used by the FBI apply for a surveillance warrant on a Trump campaign associate.

On Twitter, Mr Trump called Mr Schiff “one of the biggest liars and leakers in Washington”, adding that he “must be stopped”.

Mr Schiff quickly shot back that: “Instead of tweeting false smears, the American people would appreciate it if you turned off the TV and helped solve the funding crisis, protected Dreamers or … really anything else.”

The committee did not release the Democratic memo last week, with one Republican member saying revisions were needed so the memo would not endanger national security. Key Democrats are seeking to put out the document, including the Senate’s Democratic leader, Chuck Schumer of New York, who urged Mr Trump to back the public release and said that refusing to do so would show the president’s intent to undermine the investigation into Russian election interference.

Mr Trump would need to sign off on the memo if it contains classified information. A White House official said if the Democratic memo made it out of the committee, the administration would consider releasing it, subjecting it to a similar review process as the Republican memo.

House Speaker Paul Ryan has said he supports the release of the Democrats’ memo, if sensitive intelligence information is removed.

Special counsel Robert Mueller is investigating possible collusion between the Trump 2016 presidential campaign and Russia as well as whether there have been efforts to obstruct the investigation.

Mr Trump tweeted over the weekend that the memo “totally vindicates ‘Trump’ in probe” even as “the Russian Witch Hunt goes on and on”.

But that statement was not backed by Republican committee members who appeared on the Sunday talk shows. Representatives also said the memo should not impede Mueller.

Utah representative Chris Stewart said: “I think it would be a mistake for anyone to suggest that the special counsel shouldn’t complete his work. I support his work. I want him to finish it. I hope he finishes it as quickly as possible.”

Mr Schiff branded the Republican memo “a political hit job” and has questioned whether the chairman, Devin Nunes, had coordinated with the White House in drafting the document seized on by the president to vent his grievances against the nation’s premier law enforcement agencies.

The Democrat said: “The goal here is to undermine the FBI, discredit the FBI, discredit the Mueller investigation, do the president’s bidding.

“I think it’s very possible his staff worked with the White House.”

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