President Donald Trump’s White House jumped immediately to review an explosive classified memo for possible release hours after Republicans on the House Intelligence Committee voted to make it public.
Trump has five days to decide whether to release the memo. Republicans on the House Intelligence Committee drew howls of protest from Democrats when they voted unanimously to release the classified memo, which alleges misconduct by the FBI and Justice Department. Democrats demanded that source materials get included to avoid cherry picking and wanted their own rebuttal released, but got voted down.
Asked whether the president would order the release of the memo today, counselor to the president Kellyanne Conway responded: ‘Probably not.’
‘We’re going to review it today, how’s that,’ she told Fox and Friends Tuesday.
Vote: Devin Nunes (left), the Republican intel chair, got a party-line victory in his ‘release the memo’ campaign, while ranking Democrat Adam Schiff had an attempt to publish a matching dissenting memo voted down
She said the issue would not be in Trump’s state of the union speech prime time Tuesday night. ‘It is not in there. Transparency and accountability are, we respect the process, we can’t comment on the contents of the memo at the moment,’ she added.
The highly-classified memo said to lay bare the FBI and DoJ acting against President Donald Trump before the election should be published, the House Intelligence Committee voted along party lines on Monday night.
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Assistant Attorney General Stephen Boyd wrote the committee arguing it would be ‘extraordinarily reckless’ to release the memo ‘without giving the Department and the FBI the opportunity to review the memorandum.’
Rep. Jim Jordan of Ohio, a committee member, defended the action, telling CNN Thursday evening: ‘I think it will speak for itself and I think will answer a lot of questions.’
‘We’re going to review it today, how’s that,’ counselor to the president Kellyanne Conway told Fox and Friends Tuesday.
Responding to a Democratic complaint, he said: ‘It should be foot noted and cited, but that’s not the choice the committee made.’
He claimed text messages between FBI lovers Peter Stzrok and Lisa Page revealed an anti-Trump bias at the FBI. ‘Now that the Strzrok-Page text messages have come out we know that the fix was in,’ he said.
House minority leader Nancy Pelosi blasted the memo. ‘It’s not even true. They have made up a memo that isn’t even true. And they are lying to the American people.’
‘They do these things as a distraction,’ she said of Republicans.
House Speaker Paul Ryan told reporters he though the memo should be released – casting the declassification as run-of-the mill open government.
‘I think we should disclose all this stuff. I think sources and methods we’ve gotta protect, no two ways about it for sure, 100%,’ he said.
‘But I think disclosure is the way to go. It’s the best disinfectant. And I think we need to disclose, that brings us accountability, that brings us transparency, that helps us clean up any problem we have with (the Justice Department) and FBI,’ he said.
Trump himself must now decide on its publication and will have a window of five days to make his decision, a timeline he will adhere to, according to Deputy Press Secretary Hogan Gidley, who spoke to CNN on Monday night.
The committee, which is majority Republican, voted down a proposal to release the Democratic-authored minority memo as well.
The move comes after a ‘release the memo’ campaign by Republicans, who believe it will show that the FBI and DoJ wrongly surveilled at least one member of the Trump campaign on the basis of the notorious ‘golden showers’ dossier, drawn up by British spy Christopher Steele.
The memo, drawn up by Republican committee chair Devin Nunes, represents another potentially explosive twist in the aftermath of the 2016 election.
The White House says President Donald Trump has not decided whether he’d authorize the release of a classified House Intelligence Committee memo, but says he favors ‘full transparency.’
A highly sought after classified memo says that Deputy Attorney General Rod J. Rosenstein approved a request last spring for extended surveillance on Carter Page (pictured), an unpaid foreign policy adviser to Trump’s presidential campaign. Page is seen here during a December 2016 visit to Moscow
White House Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders said Monday that ‘no one’ at the White House has seen the memo, so the president was not prepared to make a decision.
A number of conservatives favor releasing the memo, which they believe could discredit the findings of the investigation into ties between the Trump campaign and Russian officials.
White House aides have previously said Trump favored releasing the document, which is in contrast to the stance of the Justice Department.
The issue is also set to roil the Republicans.
GOP Senator Lindsey Graham of South Carolina vocally opposed its publication, saying the decision should be made by someone who does not stand to gain or lose politically by its publication.
The highly sought after memo says, according to the New York Times, that Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein approved a request last spring for extended surveillance on Carter Page, an unpaid foreign policy adviser to Trump’s presidential campaign.
Republicans appear poised to argue that Rosenstein did not thoroughly review the request to spy on Carter through the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA), using the law enforcement official as a weapon in their power struggle with DOJ.
Page is under scrutiny for a 2016 trip he made to Moscow where he met with Russian officials.
It was a scholarly visit in which he says he made it clear he was not there representing the presidential candidate.
A report he provided to the campaign afterward with his insights and an offer to set up a trip to Russia for Trump has made him a person of interest in investigations into alleged collusion, though.
House Republicans on the Intelligence Committee are now claiming, per the Times, in an unreleased memo that Carter was surveiled last year with a warrant that Rosenstein signed off on.
The memo is said to suggest that Rosenstein did not do his homework before he OK’d the warrant that followed on a previous request for surveillance that had been justified at the time by the so-called dirty dossier that ex-British spy Christopher Steele compiled on Trump.
Trump has denied the salacious findings in the dossier that law enforcement officials have not otherwise been able to verify.
Steele is known to have been contracted by a Republican candidate competing against Trump in the primary.
He was paid to finish the job by Hillary Clinton’s campaign and the Democratic Party.
Republicans who have seen the Intelligence Committee’s memo have been demanding the public release of the document that is said to reveal the Obama administration surveillance on the Trump campaign in 2016.
‘It’s troubling. It is shocking,’ North Carolina Rep. Mark Meadows said last week.’Part of me wishes that I didn’t read it because I don’t want to believe that those kinds of things could be happening in this country that I call home and love so much.’
House Intel made the four-page memo available to members of the House last week.
They are still keeping it at arm’s length from their counterparts in the Senate and are refusing to provide a copy to the Department of Justice.
Rosenstein is a Trump-appointed DOJ official.
His opinion that FBI Director James Comey should be fired was used as the basis by Trump for the law enforcement official’s canning.
It was Rosenstein who later angered Trump when he authorized a special counsel investigation into Russia’s attempts to manipulate the 2016 election.
Trump is said to have considered firing Rosenstein as a result of the designation of Robert Mueller as special counsel before moving to get rid of Mueller himself before changing his mind on the advice of counsel.
Rosenstein is a Trump-appointed DOJ official. He angered Trump when he authorized a special counsel investigation into Russian attempts to manipulate the 2016 election
Republicans have been teeing up their memo on surveillance as a bombshell that will justify demands for an independent investigation of DOJ and the FBI, which had been conducting the Russia probe until Rosenstein brought in Mueller.
Rep. Adam Schiff, the ranking Democrat on the committee, said last week in a statement that the GOP-authored memo was sensational and that the opposing party had ‘selectively and misleadingly’ characterized classified information ‘in an effort to protect the President at any cost.’
As the Times article on Rosenstein was released, a debate was raging in Washington over whether the classified memo should be made public.
In a Sunday morning appearance on CBS, White House Legislative Affairs Director Marc Short intimated the president’s belief that it should.
‘We haven’t obviously read the memo. It’s classified. So it’s hard for me to speculate on what’s in the memo,’ he said. ‘I do think that we typically prefer transparency. And so if there are concerns that I think it would be helpful for Americans to know about, we would be open for that being released.’
Rep. Adam Schiff, D- Calif., ranking member of the House Intelligence Committee, speaks to members of the media, Monday, Jan. 29, 2018 on Capitol Hill in Washington. He blasted the decision to release the memo after getting voted down
Republican Sen. Susan Collins said Sunday that she was concerned that classified information would be compromised, however.
‘That’s a really serious matter. So, to me, the preferable way to handle the allegations of wrongdoing by certain FBI agents and a lawyer there is to leave it in the hands of the inspector general, Michael Horowitz. I know him. He’s aggressive. He will do a fair investigation,’ she told CNN.
On CBS’ ‘Face the Nation’ Short had argued ‘there’s plenty of ways you can redact a document to make sure that methods are not revealed’ and assuage concerns like those outlined by Collins.
‘But if there are serious concerns about unmasking that happened in the previous administration, then I think that the American people should know that,’ he said.
Stephen Boyd, an assistant attorney general, told Chairman Nunes last week that it would be ‘extraordinarily reckless’ for the committee to do so.
House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy, a Republican who’s read the memo, indicated on Meet the Press that it may be time for Trump to step in.
‘Having read this memo, I think it would be appropriate that the public has full view of it,’ he said.
Democrats have repeatedly complained that the memo is an effort to undermine Mueller’s Russia investigation.
For weeks, Republicans have called for the release of the memo, which they claimed would bolster GOP members’ claims of bias in the FBI.
Under the rules, Trump now has five days to either review or turn down publication.
However recently following repeated reports about it, Trump began agitating for the release of the memo.
When traveling to Switzerland for the World Economic Forum last week, the president expressed frustration that his own Justice Department didn’t want the memo released.
Schiff’s comments indicate that there has been yet another partisan breakdown on a panel that previously had a reputation for bipartisan cooperation.
Schiff said the new standard for the panel seems to be: ‘If it’s good for the president, then fine, regardless of it’s impact’ on the FBI or other government agencies.
He said the majority had ‘no intention’ of having the document vetted before its release.
‘The conclusion is pretty cooked,’ he said.
He ran through a series of votes where the majority got rolled, including losing an effort to allow a separate minority-drafted memo to ‘see the light of day.’
That Democratic-authored minority memo ‘is more of a counter-argument for all the errors and inaccuracies in the majority memo, which at the end of the day is frankly one big propaganda piece,’ Rep. Denny Heck, a Democrat from Washington, who sits on the House Intelligence Committee told CNN.