The Justice Department warned Wednesday that it “would be extraordinarily reckless” for the House intelligence Committee to release a classified memo publicly “without giving the Department and the FBI the opportunity to review the memorandum,” and to “advise” on possible harm to national security and ongoing investigations from its public release.
CNN has obtained a copy of the letter sent by Assistant Attorney General Stephen Boyd to committee Chairman Devin Nunes.
The letter asks “why the Committee would possibly seek to disclose classified and law enforcement sensitive information without first consulting with the relevant members of the intelligence community.”
Boyd wrote that the Justice Department has turned over more than 1,000 pages of classified documents to the committee “relating to the FBI’s relationship, if any, with a source and its reliance, if any, on information provided by that source.”
Citing media reports that the memo suggests FBI abuse of FISA authorities, Boyd says the Justice Department is “currently unaware of any wrongdoing relating to the FISA process,” but says the department takes any allegation of such abuse seriously and “we agree that any abuse of that system cannot be tolerated.”
Boyd also wrote that “wider distribution of the classified information” presumably contained in Nunes’ memo would be a “significant deviation” from the Department’s agreement with House intel and the office of House Speaker Paul Ryan.
Jack Langer, a committee spokesman for Nunes, pushed back on the Justice Department’s letter, saying, “Agencies that are under investigation by congressional committees don’t typically get access to the committees’ investigative documents about them, and it’s no surprise these agencies don’t want the abuses we’ve found to be made public.”
The letter reveals that FBI director Christopher Wray personally asked to review the memorandum and is renewing the request before any committee vote to release it. It also gives Nunes the option to provide the document to the Justice Department’s inspector general to investigate any alleged wrongdoing and “independently assess whether prior release of the memorandum would impair its ability to do so.”
CNN’s Sophie Tatum contributed to this report.