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    Democrats defend Russia inquiry in response to Republicans’ Nunes memo

    In a long-awaited memo released on Saturday, Democrats on the House intelligence committee defended official investigations into Russian meddling in the 2016 presidential election.
    Donald Trump duly responded on Twitter, calling the Democratic memo “a total political and legal BUST” that he said “just confirms all of the terrible things that were done”.
    The president added: “SO ILLEGAL!”
    Investigations into Russian election meddling include the question of whether any Trump aides colluded in such efforts.
    Trump has called the investigations a “witch hunt” and insisted there was no collusion. Some Republicans in Congress have sought to defend the president by attacking investigations by congressional committees, the FBI and special counsel Robert Mueller.
    Releasing his party’s document on Saturday, Adam Schiff of California, the ranking Democrat on the House intelligence panel, said in a tweet: “Some time ago, Republicans on our committee released a declassified memo that omitted and distorted key facts in order to mislead the public and impugn the integrity of the FBI. We can now tell you what they left out.”
    Schiff’s tweet contained a link to the 10-page, partially redacted document, which was posted to the panel’s website.
    The Democratic memo criticised the Republican memo as a “transparent effort to undermine” investigations.
    The memo also defended the FBI’s obtaining of warrants for temporary surveillance of Carter Page, an aide to Trump’s election campaign whom the Democrats said “the FBI assessed to be an agent of the Russian government”.
    Law professor Carl Tobias from the University of Richmond said the Democratss memo placed much that had transpired in context and helped “US citizens to sort out the truth”. He added: “The memo also convincingly refutes the argument that the DOJ and the FBI were duplicitous in their request to the FISA court.”
    The release came after weeks of argument over how much of the Democratic document would be redacted. The White House objected to its release on 9 February, citing national security concerns. Democrats then negotiated with the FBI on what should be blacked out.
    Trump had less concern about the earlier classified memo written by Republicans, known after the intelligence committee chairman as the Nunes memo, which he declassified on 2 February despite strong objections from the FBI. Trump claimed the memo “vindicated” him. Some Republicans disagreed.

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