A top Justice Department official is urging House Intelligence Chairman Devin Nunes not to release a much-buzzed-about memo circulating in Congress that purportedly reveals government surveillance abuses.
In the letter, which Fox News has obtained, Assistant Attorney General Stephen Boyd wrote, “We believe it would be extraordinarily reckless for the Committee to disclose such information publicly without giving the Department and the FBI the opportunity to review the memorandum and to advise the HPSCI of the risk of harm to national security and to ongoing investigations that could come from public release.”
Boyd continued, “Though we are currently unaware of any wrongdoing relating to the FISA process, we agree that any abuse of that system cannot be tolerated.”
Nunes is traveling this week in the Middle East. But the demand is not being well-received on Capitol Hill.
“It’s really stupid they would try to block us from releasing the memo," a senior congressional intelligence source told Fox News. "It only makes it worse for them. And it is more evidence that DOJ is trying to obstruct our investigation.”
The four-page memo is being described by lawmakers as “shocking,” “troubling” and “alarming,” with one congressman likening the details to KGB activity in Russia.
It is believed to include information about government surveillance conducted during the Obama administration.
Speaking with Fox News last week, Republican lawmakers said they could not yet discuss the contents of the memo they reviewed on Thursday, after it was released to members by the House Intelligence Committee. But they say the memo should be immediately made public.
“It is so alarming, the American people have to see this,” Ohio Rep. Jim Jordan said.
“It's troubling; it is shocking,” North Carolina Rep. Mark Meadows said. “Part of me wishes that I didn't read it because I don’t want to believe that those kinds of things could be happening in this country that I call home and love so much.”
Florida Rep. Matt Gaetz said he believed people could lose their jobs once the memo is released.
“I believe the consequence of its release will be major changes in people currently working at the FBI and the Department of Justice,” he said, referencing DOJ officials Rod Rosenstein, deputy attorney general, and Bruce Ohr.
Fox News’ Ed Henry, John Roberts and Catherine Herridge contributed to this report.