Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) speaks to reporters on Capitol Hill on Oct. 31, 2017. (AP Photo/Susan Walsh)
BY BRIDGET JOHNSON FEBRUARY 2, 2018
WASHINGTON — Senate Armed Services Committee Chairman John McCain (R-Ariz.) lashed out at GOP colleagues today for “doing Putin’s job” with attacks on the FBI and Justice Department.
“In 2016, the Russian government engaged in an elaborate plot to interfere in an American election and undermine our democracy. Russia employed the same tactics it has used to influence elections around the world, from France and Germany to Ukraine, Montenegro, and beyond,” McCain said in a statement. “Putin’s regime launched cyberattacks and spread disinformation with the goal of sowing chaos and weakening faith in our institutions. And while we have no evidence that these efforts affected the outcome of our election, I fear they succeeded in fueling political discord and dividing us from one another.”
McCain, whose comments came as the House Intelligence Committee Republicans released a memo alleging FISA violations in the FBI’s surveillance of Trump campaign aide Carter Page, declared that the “latest attacks on the FBI and Department of Justice serve no American interests – no party’s, no president’s, only Putin’s.”
“The American people deserve to know all of the facts surrounding Russia’s ongoing efforts to subvert our democracy, which is why Special Counsel Mueller’s investigation must proceed unimpeded,” he added. “Our nation’s elected officials, including the president, must stop looking at this investigation through the warped lens of politics and manufacturing partisan sideshows.”
Concluded the senator: “If we continue to undermine our own rule of law, we are doing Putin’s job for him.”
At the White House, President Trump called the allegations in the memo “a disgrace.”
“A lot of people should be ashamed of themselves,” he said.
When asked if he still has confidence in Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein, who is mentioned in the memo only as signing off on at least one warrant to monitor Page, the president told reporters, “You figure that one out.”
After Trump left the White House for the weekend, the White House issued a statement charging that the memo “raises serious concerns about the integrity of decisions made at the highest levels of the Department of Justice and the FBI to use the government’s most intrusive surveillance tools against American citizens.”
“This decision was made with input from the president’s national security team—including law enforcement officials and members of the intelligence community, for whom the president has great respect. He is especially grateful to the hardworking rank-and-file public servants who work every day to keep America safe and uphold our laws while protecting the constitutional rights of all Americans,” continued White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders.
“Minority members of the committee have reportedly drafted a separate memorandum,” she said, referencing the House Intel Dems’ memo that was not approved for release by the majority Republicans. “The administration stands ready to work with Congress to accommodate oversight requests consistent with applicable standards, including the need to protect intelligence sources and methods.”
The FBI Agents Association, which on Thursday threw support behind Director Christopher Wray, who opposed the release of the memo, said today that “the men and women of the FBI put their lives on the line every day in the fight against terrorists and criminals because of their dedication to our country and the Constitution.”
“The American people should know that they continue to be well-served by the world’s preeminent law enforcement agency,” said association president Thomas O’Connor. “FBI Special Agents have not, and will not, allow partisan politics to distract us from our solemn commitment to our mission.”