On Monday, Jan. 29, Republican lawmakers voted in favor of releasing a classified memo that alleges some kind of misconduct by senior FBI officials involved in the Russia investigation. Despite objections from both the Department of Justice and Democrat lawmakers, House intelligence committee Chairman Devin Nunes (along with other Republicans) voted to release what is being referred to as the Nunes memo. Whatever it might be, Republicans think it will help Donald Trump.
Republicans are claiming that this secret document shows corruption among FBI officials who had surveillance of a Trump campaign aide, according to NBC. Elite Daily reached out to Nunes' office for comment on those reports. On the other hand, Democrats are saying this memo is twisting the intelligence in an attempt to distract from special counsel Robert Mueller's probe into Russia's interference in the 2016 election and possible connections with the Trump campaign.
Three people who have seen the memo told Politico that the memo is accusatory of senior FBI officials, saying they abused a classified surveillance program called FISA, to spy on Carter Page, Trump's campaign foreign policy adviser. Typically, the FBI would have to show evidence and an application to a court that the person they are trying to spy on is working on behalf of a foreign power. If the court agrees, the FBI is then granted a warrant under FISA. The Nunes memo is suggesting the FBI went around this program to spy on an aspect of Trump's campaign. The New York Times reported on Monday, Jan. 29 that the memo claims that Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein approved an application to surveil Page. The Department of Justice declined to comment to Elite Daily about this.
On the other side of the table, another memo was written by Democrats, led by Representative Adam Schiff, who is the top Democrat on the committee. That memo is supposed to counter the Nunes memo to show that it is misleading, according to Bloomberg. However, Republicans voted against releasing the Democrat's rebuttal memo and also rejected a proposal to give the Nunes memo to the Justice Department and FBI ahead of time, so they could vet the document, Schiff said.
"We have crossed a deeply regrettable line on this committee. We had votes today to politicize the intelligence process, to prohibit the FBI and the Department of Justice from expressing their concerns to our committee and to the House, and to selectively release to the public the majority’s distorted memo," Schiff said, according to Politico.
Nunes showed FBI Director Christopher Wray the memo on Sunday, Jan. 28. According to Politico, Nunes told Wray he could check for any factual errors, national security concerns, or information that would put FBI sources at risk. This didn't do much to assuage the concerns from the Democratic side about the memo's possible implications.
"The review did not satisfy, I think, either the bureau or [DOJ's] concerns," Schiff said. "The director of the FBI asked for the opportunity to come before the committee and express those concerns."
While Republicans refused to publicly release the Democrats' memo, they did agree to share it with the rest of the House, which could reportedly be a foreshadowing to potentially releasing it publicly, according to Politico. But nothing about that release has been made certain, so don't hold your breath quite yet.
Now that the memo has been made available to the House and voted to be publicly released, Trump has five days to either object to the releasing the memo, or give the Republican committee the go ahead. The White House is in favor of releasing the memo, according to The New York Times. That would make sense, given that the general idea the public is getting at the moment is that this memo could be a small victory for Trump.
It's been a dramatic week already between Trump and the FBI. On Monday, FBI Deputy Director Andrew McCabe stepped down following growing pressure from Trump, who seemed to doubt that his loyalty was in the right place. Nevertheless, the Russia investigation persists.