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Rep. Russell Talks About Memo Release, Mueller

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Rep. Steve Russell, R-Oklahoma, says he wants the contents of a controversial memo about Russian meddling in the 2016 presidential election to be released to the public.

The memo, written by House Intelligence Committee Chair Rep. Devin Nunes, R-California, is said to contain details about abuses of power by the Department of Justice and FBI.

“The arms of government that we rely on to properly conduct themselves did not do so,” Russell said on Thursday from a party retreat in West Virginia. “I think the information contained in the memo is something the American people ought to know.”

Russell said he read the memo before lawmakers voted to release is earlier this week.

President Donald Trump is expected to grant the release despite protest from the FBI, which said the memo could have serious consequences on national security. 

Reports suggest Nunes altered the memo prior to the Trump’s review which has prompted outcry from Democrats who have called for Nunes to be removed from his chair position. They’ve also described the memo an attempt to undermine U.S. law enforcement agencies and the special investigation into whether the Trump campaign colluded with Russian actors during the 2016 election. 

Despite the controversy, Russell said he was saddened by the contents of the memo alluding to claims it exposes bias against the President inside the country’s top law enforcement agency. He would not reveal any specifics about the contents, however. 

“It was something to me that was sad. That people could put themselves and their own personal aspirations ahead of the country,” he said. 

Tied to the release of the memo are calls for federal legislation to protect special investigator Robert Mueller from being fired. Recent reports say Trump was on the brink off dismissing Mueller but was stopped by a resignation threat from White House counsel. 

Russell would not say whether he would support that kind of legislation, saying he hasn’t heard that there’s a need to protect Mueller from any kind of retaliation, nor had he seen any drafted protection proposal. He blamed the outrage and calls for protection a biproduct of the “vitriol” produced by an “anti-social media” culture, noting “the human mind is interesting.”

“I don't know that it would solve, if we continue to do knee jerk reactionary type of policies and laws every time somebody sees something on the news I don't think that’s healthy for our country,” he said. 

Trump has taken to Twitter on several occasions to denounce the special investigation, Mueller, the DOJ, the FBI and several high-level officials within those agencies. 

On Friday morning, Trump wrote, “The top Leadership and Investigators of the FBI and the Justice Department have politicized the sacred investigative process in favor of Democrats and against Republicans,” echoing recent right-wing media conspiracy theories surrounding the investigation.

Russell said however the investigation needed to go forward.

“Give those that are on investigation teams or others or on committees, give them time to conduct their business," Russell said.

Trump is expected to release the memo sometime Friday. 

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