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Tracing the Tension Between President Trump And the FBI Since The 2016 Campaign

MARY LOUISE KELLY, HOST:

A long-simmering dispute between the White House and the FBI is coming to a boil. The dispute is over a classified memo pulled together by the chairman of the House Intelligence Committee, Devin Nunes. Now, none of us has seen this memo. It is still secret, but it could be released tomorrow. And it reportedly charges that the FBI and the Justice Department abused their surveillance powers to spy on the Trump campaign.

ARI SHAPIRO, HOST:

FBI leaders say they have grave concerns about the memo's accuracy, and they've asked the White House to keep the memo classified. This difficult relationship between President Trump and the FBI started to take root during the presidential campaign.

KELLY: It did. Back in July 2016, then FBI Director James Comey announced that the bureau had completed its investigation into Hillary Clinton's use of a private email server and that she would not be charged with any crime. Here's then candidate Trump.

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PRESIDENT DONALD TRUMP: Today is the best evidence ever that we've seen that our system is absolutely, totally rigged. It's rigged.

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KELLY: It was later revealed that around the same time, the FBI quietly opened a probe into the Trump campaign's ties to Russia.

SHAPIRO: And of course that probe continues today. Trump meanwhile keeps fighting back. Last March, he accused President Obama of using the FBI to tap his phones before the election, a claim that Congressman Nunes hopes to vindicate with this memo. And then on May 9, Trump abruptly fired Comey. He later admitted to NBC that he was thinking about the Russia investigation when he made that decision.

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TRUMP: When I decided to just do it, I said to myself - I said, you know, this Russia thing with Trump and Russia is a made-up story. It's an excuse by the Democrats for having lost an election that they should have won.

KELLY: Now, firing Comey, needless to say, did not end the Russia investigation. Robert Mueller was appointed special counsel. And by October last year, two former Trump campaign officials had been indicted. Two more pleaded guilty to lying to the FBI. As Mueller turned up the heat, some Republican lawmakers pushed back, saying Mueller's team was politically motivated to take Trump down. Republicans say the memo raises questions about political bias against the president, and Trump is eager for it to be made public. After the State of the Union speech this week, he was asked whether it would be released, and he said, 100 percent. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.