WASHINGTON — The House Intelligence Committee voted along party lines to release a staff memo alleging FBI misconduct in the Russia probe while shooting down a request from Ranking Member Adam Schiff (D-Calif.) to first bring the FBI and Justice Department before the committee to address GOP concerns.
Intel Republicans also voted to delay the release of a memo from House Intel Dems responding to the GOP memo, in what Schiff told reporters on Capitol Hill was a “transparently political objective… to allow the majority to set a certain narrative for a week or so before they release a full statement of the facts from the minority.” House Intel Republicans are letting the rest of the House review the Dems’ memo before any potential future release.
Schiff said Dems were also told that committee Republicans have opened an investigation into the FBI and DOJ. Rep. Mike Conaway (R-Texas), who is managing the committee’s Russia investigation with Schiff, countered that what they’re doing is simply standard committee oversight.
The GOP memo, prepared by staff of Chairman Devin Nunes (R-Calif.), reportedly alleges that the FBI used the Steele dossier to renew FISA monitoring of Trump campaign adviser Carter Page without letting the judge who signed off on the order know that the Clinton campaign paid for the latter half of Fusion GPS’ investigation with former MI6 operative Christopher Steele.
Former Director of National Intelligence James Clapper has said that some of the details in the Steele dossier have been corroborated as true, while other details have not been corroborated or disproven. The dossier said Page, who has admitted to traveling to Russia during the presidential campaign but said it was for personal reasons, met with Russia’s state-owned oil company Rosneft during his Trump campaign tenure.
“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 only the majority’s memo without the full facts,” Schiff said outside the committee room, surrounded by the panel’s Democrats. “A very sad day, I think, in the history of this committee.”
“As I said to my committee colleagues during this hearing, sadly, we can fully expect that the president of the United States will not put the national interests over his personal interests, but it is a sad day indeed when that is also true of our own committee — because today this committee voted to put the president’s personal interests, perhaps their own political interests, above the national interests in denying themselves, even, the ability to hear from the department and the FBI,” he added.
According to Bloomberg, President Trump “erupted in anger” after learning of the letter that Associate Attorney General Stephen Boyd sent to Nunes warning that release of the staff memo would be “extraordinarily reckless.”
“We believe it would be extraordinarily reckless for the committee to disclose such information publicly without giving the department and the FBI the opportunity to review the memorandum and to advise the (committee) of the risk of harm to national security and to ongoing investigations that could come from public release,” Boyd wrote. “Indeed, we do not understand why the committee would possibly seek to disclose classified and law enforcement sensitive information without first consulting with the relevant members of the intelligence community.”
Furthermore, he added, the DOJ is “unaware of any wrongdoing” in their FISA warrants.
Trump now has five days to decide whether to block the House Intel majority’s intention to release the four-page memo, under the rule invoked by committee Republicans to override the classified nature of the document.
White House deputy press secretary Hogan Gidley told CNN after the committee vote that Trump would meet members of his national security team, hear their advice and then make a decision.
“He wants to see what’s in it, and obviously there are national security concerns,” Gidley said, adding that while Trump wants transparency “the president would never risk putting American lives at risk over a classified document.”
FBI Director Christopher Wray came to Capitol Hill on Sunday night and viewed the memo, reportedly after Rep. Trey Gowdy (R-S.C.) pressed Nunes to let the director see it, and Schiff spoke with Wray this afternoon.
“The review did not satisfy, I think, either the bureau’s or the department’s concerns,” said the top committee Dem. “And indeed the director of the FBI asked for the opportunity to come before the committee and express those concerns, but that request was denied by the chairman today.”