Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) on Friday delivered a subtle but stinging rebuke to House Republicans over their move to release a classified memo alleging misconduct at the FBI, urging President Donald Trump and other Republicans to stop "manufacturing partisan sideshows" that benefit Russia.
The statement from McCain, who is away from Washington undergoing treatment for brain cancer, came minutes after Trump signed off on the release of the memo crafted by Republicans on the House intelligence committee. McCain directly connected his fellow Republicans' campaign to undercut the FBI with Russian President Vladimir Putin's meddling in the 2016 election.
"The latest attacks on the FBI and Department of Justice serve no American interests — no party's, no president's, only Putin's," McCain said. The Arizonan, a longtime Russia hawk who helped shape a bipartisan package of sanctions against Moscow last year, added that "Special Counsel [Robert] Mueller's investigation must proceed unimpeded."
The memo at issue charges the FBI with mishandling the surveillance of a former Trump campaign adviser by using an unverified dossier bankrolled by Hillary Clinton's campaign. Democrats and law enforcement officials have warned that releasing the memo risks hindering ongoing investigations by compromising intelligence community sources and methods. Democrats have warned that Trump is poised to use the memo to strike back at Mueller's probe of his ties to Russia.
"Our nation’s elected officials, including the president, must stop looking at this investigation through the warped lens of politics and manufacturing partisan sideshows," McCain wrote in his statement. "If we continue to undermine our own rule of law, we are doing Putin’s job for him.”