It's unclear why the president put his last name in quotation marks, although he often speaks of himself in the third-person, and the tweet used the word “their” instead of “there.” The president is in Palm Beach, Fla., this weekend, and the tweet came minutes after his motorcade left his private club en route to the Trump International Golf Club in West Palm Beach.
The GOP memo was composed by the staff of House Intelligence Committee Chairman Devin Nunes (R-Calif.) and alleges the FBI abused its surveillance authority, particularly when it sought a secret court order to monitor a former Trump campaign adviser, Carter Page. The FBI and the Justice Department lobbied against the release of the memo, with the FBI saying that it was “gravely concerned” that key facts were missing from it.
The memo states that the findings “raise concerns with the legitimacy and legality of certain [Justice Department] and FBI interactions with the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court (FISC),” which authorizes surveillance of individuals believed to be agents of foreign powers. The memo cites “a troubling breakdown of legal processes established to protect the American people from abuses related to the FISA process,” a reference to the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act.
The memo alleges that a surveillance warrant was obtained and renewed on a former Trump campaign adviser, Page, with information from an individual with an anti-Trump agenda. Republicans have argued that the warrant taints the origins of special counsel Robert S. Mueller III’s investigation into possible coordination between Trump associates and agents of the Russian government during the 2016 campaign.
It is unclear whether Trump will use the memo to fire people involved in the Russia probe, including Deputy Attorney General Rod J. Rosenstein, who oversees it. Asked Friday by a reporter whether he was more likely to fire Rosenstein after the release of the memo and whether he had confidence in him, Trump replied, “You figure that one out.” Democrats warned against any dismissals at the Justice Department, saying such moves would trigger a constitutional crisis.
Two White House spokesmen said in cable news interviews Friday evening and Saturday morning that the president has no plans to make any changes at the Justice Department.
“It's been very clear throughout the process in the White House, there are no conversations and no considerations about firing Rod Rosenstein,” White House spokesman Hogan Gidley said on CNN on Friday night.
Deputy press secretary Raj Shah delivered the same message in interviews, including one on Saturday morning on Fox News.
“Rod Rosenstein's job is not on the line,” Shah said. “We expect him to continue his job as deputy attorney general.”
Late in the day, Trump tweeted again about the memo, asking why the media continues to focus on the FBI investigation when the economy is doing so well. At 7:26 p.m., he tweeted: “Only Russia, Russia, Russia, despite the fact that, after a year of looking, there is No Collusion!”
And the president tweeted passages from an editorial written by the Wall Street Journal editorial board that argues that the “FBI and the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court appear to have been used to influence the 2016 election and its aftermath,” and that while the board doesn't “know the political motives of the FBI and Justice officials... the facts are damaging enough.”
“No matter its motives,” the editorial board wrote, “the FBI became a tool of anti-Trump political actors. This is unacceptable in a democracy and ought to alarm anyone who wants the FBI to be a nonpartisan enforcer of the law.”
Devlin Barrett, Karoun Demirjian and Philip Rucker contributed to this report.