Sen. Ben Cardin said Republicans are trying to compromise the independence of the Justice Department with their push to release a classified GOP memo alleging the FBI abused its surveillance authority.
Asked in an interview on CNN's "New Day" Wednesday if he was prepared for the memo to come out, the Maryland Democrat said, "To me this is sad and dangerous."
"We're talking about defending the rule of law, defending the independence of the Department of Justice," said Cardin, the top Democrat on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee. "You would think Congress would stand up for the independence for the Department of Justice."
He added, "It looks like the Republicans are prepared to compromise our system in order to protect the President."
On Monday night, the House Intelligence Committee voted along party lines to release the memo, giving the President five days to decide whether or not to make the memo public.
The memo charges that the opposition research dossier on Trump and Russia written by ex-British intelligence agent Christopher Steele was improperly used to secure a FISA surveillance warrant on former Trump foreign policy adviser Carter Page. The memo is based on classified information from the Department of Justice that Democrats argued Republicans "cherry-picked" in an effort to discredit special counsel Robert Mueller's Russia investigation.
Democrats have also called the memo, which was spearheaded by House Intelligence Committee Chairman Devin Nunes, "profoundly misleading."
The committee voted to withhold a rebuttal memo written by the top Democrat on the House Intelligence Committee, California Rep. Adam Schiff, which argues that the FBI followed proper procedures in obtaining the FISA warrant.
Republican Sen. John Kennedy of Louisiana is pushing for the memo to be released so long as the classified information is redacted.
"If there is classified information in that memo, it shouldn't be released," Kennedy said Wednesday on CNN's "New Day." "If they release it anyway, to be fair, the Democrats ought to be allowed to release their memo."
"My strong preference would be not have either side put spin on it, go through the original material and try and take out all the classified information," he added.
- Senate Dem blasts Trump not enforcing Russia sanctions
- Senate Republicans break with Trump on Russia sanctions
- US sanctions Russia over cyberattacks
- Trump dodges question about Russia sanctions
- Trump admin announces fresh Russia sanctions
- Lawmakers praise Trump for Russia sanctions
- Senators coalesce around a Russia sanctions bill but hurdles remain
- GOP senators blast Trump's tariffs announcement
- Trump slams Senate Dems as shutdown looms
- Dem. senator slams 'crazy Democrats'