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Virginia Senator Mark Warner challenges accuracy of GOP memo

(WHSV)
Published: Feb. 2, 2018 at 2:18 PM EST
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The top Democrat on the Senate Intelligence Committee is challenging the accuracy of a

by House Republicans.

President Donald Trump declassified the

Friday, and Republicans released it in an effort to prove surveillance abuses at the FBI.

Virginia Sen. Mark Warner says he read the classified documents that formed the basis for the memo, and "they simply do not support its conclusions."

Only two members of the House intelligence panel, one Republican and one Democrat, have read those underlying documents.

Warner says the act of declassifying information could make it harder for the intelligence committees to conduct oversight and could endanger Americans overseas.

North Carolina Republican Sen. Richard Burr chairs the Senate Intelligence Committee. A spokeswoman says he's not commenting comment on the memo.

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12:50 p.m.

Attorney General Jeff Sessions is defending is deputy in the face of criticism from the president.

Sessions broke from prepared remarks in a speech Friday on human trafficking. He praised Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein (ROH'-zen-styn) as well as the department's No. 3 official, Rachel Brand.

Sessions says both are experienced lawyers and "represent the kind of quality and leadership that we want in the department."

That's a departure from President Donald Trump, who was asked Friday whether he has confidence in Rosenstein. Trump said, "You figure that one out."

The criticism stems from a newly declassified GOP memo alleging the FBI abused surveillance powers in its investigation into possible cooperation between Russia and the Trump campaign.

Trump said, "A lot of people should be ashamed of themselves."

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12:45 p.m.

The White House says President Donald Trump declassified the controversial GOP memo alleging FBI impropriety because the public interest outweighs any classification concerns.

The White House counsel says in a letter, "In light of the significant public interest in the memorandum, the President has authorized the declassification of the Memorandum."

The FBI and Department of Justice both opposed the memo's release, and the FBI says it has "grave concerns" about the memo's accuracy.

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12:40 p.m.

House Intelligence Committee Republicans say they found "serious violations of the public trust" by intelligence and law enforcement agencies investigating Russian interference in the 2016 campaign.

That's according to committee chairman Devin Nunes (NOO'-nehs). The California Republican sent out a statement after his committee released a controversial memo detailing what he says are abuses of power at the FBI and Department of Justice.

Nunes says he hopes the release "will shine a light on this alarming series of events" and spur "reforms that allow the American people to have full faith and confidence in their governing institutions."

The FBI had warned against releasing the memo. Democrats say the allegations are made solely to discredit the investigation.