The House Intelligence Committee’s top Democrat says he hopes to release this week the Democratic memo that pushes back against Republican allegations of FBI and Justice Department surveillance abuses of a former Trump campaign adviser.
The Democratic memo — a 10-page document written to rebut the now-public Republican memo alleging abuses over a surveillance warrant for former Trump campaign foreign policy adviser Carter Page — was blocked from public release earlier this month by the White House, which said the document needed to have sensitive information redacted first.
California Rep. Adam Schiff said Tuesday that his negotiations with the FBI over redacting portions of the Democratic memo were almost concluded. “I actually hope that we’ll do that in the next few days. It’s my goal to have this out this week,” Schiff said at an event hosted by the Commonwealth Club in San Francisco on Tuesday evening.
If Schiff’s memo is released this week, it would mark the final act in a month-long drama from the House Intelligence Committee over dueling memos, allegations and counter-allegations and constant partisan quarrels.
Three weeks ago, the release of the Republican memo from House Intelligence Chairman Devin Nunes consumed the conversation in Washington. The release followed rare public statements from the FBI and Justice Department expressing opposition to the memo’s release, and on the other side a conservative campaign to get the document out — complete with a hashtag #releasethememo.
Schiff and the committee’s Democrats slammed the Republican memo as misleading and omitting key information about the Page FISA warrant, and they sought to put out their own memo at the same time the Republican document was released. But the committee’s Republicans waited a week before voting to make the Democratic memo public, too, and then the White House demanded redactions, elongating the process further.
Now the Russia conversation has moved from the memos to the latest indictments from special counsel Robert Mueller, who charged 13 Russians on Friday over allegedly meddling in the 2016 presidential election.
Nunes, meanwhile, has taken to conservative media outlets and Twitter to tout the memo and his plans for subsequent investigations into the FISA process and the opposition research dossier on Donald Trump and Russia. And he’s needled Schiff and Democrats over their allegations of Russian collusion and accusations that Russian bots pushed the #releasethememo hashtag on Twitter.
On Wednesday, Nunes tweeted a link to a conservative website, The Federalist, titled, “How The Media Enable Rep. Adam Schiff’s Russian Bot Conspiracy Theories.”
“PS-If you are a Russian Bot please make this go viral,” Nunes tweeted. “PSS-If you’re not a Russian Bot you will become one if you retweet.”
Schiff says he is trying to get his counter-memo released to the public as quickly as he can, saying the FBI was negotiating in “good faith” with congressional Democrats. The California Democrat told Esquire on Tuesday that a deal on the memo could be announced in the next 24-to-48 hours.
“What we want to do is identify any small subset of the memo that could reveal sources and methods,” Schiff said at the Commonwealth Club. “It hopefully won’t be necessary to go back to the White House, but I do want to make sure we have visibility of any concern the FBI has, as opposed to a political redaction the White House wants to make.”
If the memo is released this week, it would happen while Congress is out of Washington on a weeklong recess.
The House Intelligence Committee’s memo saga began when the committee voted just over a month ago to allow the full House to read the four-page memo, which accused the FBI and Justice Department of improperly concealing information from the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act court to obtain a warrant for Page.
The committee’s Democrats, taken by surprise by the Nunes memo, then drafted their own response when the committee voted over a week later to make the Republican document public.
The White House released the Republican memo without redactions — beyond a change quietly made at the request of the FBI before the committee voted to send it to the White House — and it says that once proper redactions are made, it’s inclined to release the Democratic memo, too.
“Although the President is inclined to declassify the February 5th Memorandum, because the Memorandum contains numerous properly classified and especially sensitive passages, he is unable to do so at this time,” White House counsel Don McGahn wrote in a letter to the committee.