Get Ready For Another Week Of Memo Madness — This Time Over Democrats' Response

2 hours ago
Originally published on February 5, 2018 10:18 am

Updated at 1:18 p.m. ET

House Republicans' once-secret memo did not end the Russia imbroglio and, in fact, it didn't even end memo mania in Washington, D.C.

The capital geared up for another installment on Monday: The House Intelligence Committee is expected to vote on whether to release a secret Democratic counter-memo that rebuts the one prepared by the majority and its chairman, Rep. Devin Nunes, R-Calif.

House Speaker Paul Ryan, R-Wis., and other leaders in Congress have said they thought the Democrats' response should be released too, but it needs to follow an identical process as the one used last week for Nunes' memo.

That means Republicans, who hold the majority on the Intelligence Committee, must vote to release the minority's counter-memo. They have a closed-door meeting scheduled for 5 p.m. ET on Monday.

If the committee voted to release it, the memo would be sent to the White House for declassification as before and President Trump would need to authorize its release. So if last week's precedents are followed — and Trump agrees that Democrats' response should be public — that would mean it could be out by Friday.

White House spokesman Raj Shah told reporters traveling aboard Air Force One on Monday that the administration would consider the Schiff memo just as it did the Nunes document.

Trump, however, took a shot on Twitter at the Intelligence Committee's ranking member, Rep. Adam Schiff, D-Calif.

Schiff responded in short order.

Nunes' memo charges that "biased" officials in the FBI and Justice Department abused their surveillance powers in asking for a warrant to monitor the communications of a former Trump campaign foreign policy adviser, Carter Page.

Although the document makes a narrow case about the specific practices involving Page, Trump and his supporters also say it suggests a "systemic" pattern of abuse. That is not described.

Trump also said on Twitter that it "totally vindicates" him. It does not; the memo delineates how the FBI's Russia investigation began earlier with another foreign policy aide who has since pleaded guilty to lying to the FBI.

The chairman of the Senate Intelligence Committee, Richard Burr, R-N.C., said in October that for the purposes of his investigation, the question of whether the Trump campaign conspired with the Russians who attacked the 2016 election remains "open." Trump and the White House say there was no collusion.

Meanwhile, the FBI and Justice Department deny any wrongdoing on their part involving surveillance warrants.

Democrats argue the Nunes document glosses over some aspects of the story and leaves out others. Schiff and his minority say they prepared their secret rebuttal to fill in what they call these gaps.

Their allies also have prepared other memoranda of their own; House Judiciary Committee Ranking Member Jerrold Nadler, D-N.Y., released a memo that he said makes the case while stopping short of the classified aspects of the matter.

Plus Nunes isn't finished with memos either. He told The Weekly Standard that he plans to release more documentation about what he calls abuse by the FBI and the Justice Department, although he hopes it will be via the "standard process," as opposed to with a secret document that must then be declassified.

Trump hailed Nunes on Monday and appeared to welcome these efforts.

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