House intelligence committee unanimously votes to release Democratic memo
WASHINGTON — The House Intelligence Committee voted unanimously Monday evening to make public the Democratic memo rebutting GOP allegations that the FBI abused surveillance laws, the committee’s top Democrat said, a move that will put the issue back on President Donald Trump’s desk this week.
The classified memo from Rep. Adam Schiff, the top Democrat on the House Intelligence Committee, is written to push back against the central allegations of the Republican memo from Intelligence Chairman Devin Nunes. Nunes’ memo was released Friday and alleges the FBI abused the FISA process in obtaining a surveillance warrant on former Trump campaign adviser Carter Page.
Schiff told reporters Monday evening that the committee also agreed to send the Democratic memo to the FBI and Justice Department to play a role in Executive Branch approval process.
Schiff and other Democrats charge that Nunes’ memo is inaccurate and misleading, and the 10-page Schiff memo goes point-by-point to counter the charges in the Nunes memo. Schiff has said he has given his memo to the Justice Department for review.
The GOP-led House Intelligence Committee blocked the release of the Democratic memo at last week’s committee meeting, saying members had just been presented with the document, instead moving forward with the four-page Nunes memo that now has been declassified after Trump agreed to its release Friday.
The panel did, however, agree last week to let the full House review the Schiff memo in a classified setting. Now at least three Republicans say they will vote in support of publicly releasing the Democratic document at the Monday meeting, enough to send the matter to the White House.
Amanda Gonzalez, a spokeswoman for Rep. Trey Gowdy, confirmed that the South Carolina Republican would vote Monday to release the Democratic memo.
“Rep. Gowdy supports the exact same process for the minority memo as he did the majority memo,” Gonzalez said.
Rep. Pete King, a Republican who helped lead the push to declassify the Nunes memo, also plans to vote in favor of releasing the Democratic memo, according to King spokesman Kevin Fogarty.
“Yes,” Fogarty said when asked if King would vote to release the Democratic memo Monday, “assuming there is no national security issue, which he assumes there won’t be.”
Rep. Mike Turner, an Ohio Republican, will also support releasing the Democratic memo, according to his spokeswoman Morgan Rako.
If the committee votes to release Schiff’s memo, it will follow the same process as the Nunes document. Trump will have five days to decide whether to allow the document to be made public or object to its release. If the President objects, the House Intelligence Committee could send the matter to the full House to debate in closed session and vote on whether to make the memo public.
A senior administration official told CNN Monday that it would be a mistake to presume Trump has made a decision on the matter one way or the other.
Trump tweeted about both Schiff and Nunes on Monday morning, slamming the top Democrat on the Intelligence Committee and praising the Republican chairman, although he didn’t address Schiff’s memo specifically.
“Little Adam Schiff, who is desperate to run for higher office, is one of the biggest liars and leakers in Washington, right up there with Comey, Warner, Brennan and Clapper! Adam leaves closed committee hearings to illegally leak confidential information. Must be stopped!” Trump tweeted.
“Representative Devin Nunes, a man of tremendous courage and grit, may someday be recognized as a Great American Hero for what he has exposed and what he has had to endure!” he tweeted two hours later.
Schiff responded to Trump with a tweet of his own.
“Mr. President, I see you’ve had a busy morning of ‘Executive Time.’ Instead of tweeting false smears, the American people would appreciate it if you turned off the TV and helped solve the funding crisis, protected Dreamers or…really anything else,” he tweeted.