The Democrats' memo hits House Intelligence Committee Chairman Devin Nunes
The document is a rebuttal to a Nunes' own memo on alleged FISA abuses
As President Donald Trump weighs when to release a Republican congressional memo alleging the FBI abused its surveillance tools, Democrats on Capitol Hill have prepared their own memo as a counterpunch that also hits House Intelligence Committee Chairman Devin Nunes.
California Rep. Adam Schiff, the top Democrat on the House Intelligence Committee, produced the 10-page document as a rebuttal to the Republican memo on alleged FISA abuses that the House panel voted to make public on Monday.
But the Democratic memo also goes after Nunes, a California Republican who has been at the center of the committee’s criticism of the FBI and Justice Department’s handling of the opposition research dossier on then-candidate Trump and Russia, according to four Republican and Democratic sources who have read the document.
Schiff’s memo charges that the Nunes memo is an attempt to help the White House with the Russia investigation. The Nunes memo alleges that the FBI failed to provide information to the FISA court when using the dossier as part of an effort to obtain a surveillance warrant for former Trump campaign foreign policy adviser Carter Page, including that the dossier written by ex-British intelligence agent Christopher Steele was bankrolled in part by Democrats.
The Schiff memo argues that in fact proper procedures were followed in obtaining FISA warrants. CNN has reported that the FBI used information beyond the dossier to support the court application, and the dossier was cited in footnotes to specific allegations, according to current and former US officials briefed on the matter.
Elements of Schiff’s memo will likely need to be redacted if it is publicly released, sources said. Schiff told CNN Tuesday he planned to let the Justice Department review the document first before the public has a chance to see it.
“I think that what we see in the Republican memo is a terrible mischaracterization of the events. So, we sent out the proper events in their context in our own memoranda,” Schiff told CNN on Tuesday. “Even when their memo is made public, we can point out, OK, this is wrong. And this is misleading. And this is distorting.”
Asked if he would consider reading the contents of his own memo from the floor of the House, Schiff said, “That’s not an option. Our memo is classified just as theirs is – the only difference is we are vetting ours through the FBI and the Justice Department.”
Democrats have called the Nunes memo “profoundly misleading” and say it’s an effort to discredit special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation.
A spokesman for Schiff declined to comment. A spokesman for Nunes did not respond to a request for comment.
The committee voted along party lines on Monday to make the Nunes memo public, while rejecting a motion from Schiff to also make the Democratic memo public at the same time. The committee did vote to allow the full House to read Schiff’s memo, which Republicans argued was the appropriate measure because they took the same first step with the Nunes memo before making it public.
The Nunes memo is now being reviewed at the White House, where the President has five days to decide whether to object to its release or allow the release to proceed, according to an obscure committee rule used to make the memo public while bypassing the traditional declassification process.