The Slatest

House Intelligence Committee Votes to Release Democratic Memo

WASHINGTON, DC - FEBRUARY 05:  Rep. Adam Schiff (D-CA), ranking member of the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence, answers questions following a committee meeting at the U.S. Capitol February 5, 2018 in Washington, DC. The House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence voted to release the Democratic rebuttal of a memo released last week by their Republican counterparts relating to the committee's investigation of Russian influence in the 2016 U.S. presidential election.  (Photo by Win McNamee/Getty Images)
Rep. Adam Schiff (D-CA), ranking member of the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence, answers questions following a committee meeting at the U.S. Capitol February 5, 2018 in Washington, DC. The House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence voted to release the Democratic rebuttal of a memo released last week by their Republican counterparts relating to the committee’s investigation of Russian influence in the 2016 U.S. presidential election.
Win McNamee/Getty Images

On Monday, the House Intelligence committee voted to release a Democratic memo written to counter the claims advanced in a Republican memo that was made public on Friday. Both memos center on the FBI and Department of Justice’s allegedly improper use of facts obtained by Christopher Steele, a former British spy, to further the investigation of Carter Page, a former campaign adviser to Donald Trump.

The vote on Monday followed a failed effort last week to release the Democratic memo, blocked by Republicans last week on the day they voted to release the Nunes memo. From the New York Times:

Specifically, the Democratic memo is said to contend that the F.B.I. was more forthcoming with the surveillance court than Republicans had claimed. People familiar with the Democratic document said that it reveals that while the F.B.I. did not name the Democratic National Committee or Mrs. Clinton’s campaign, the bureau disclosed to the court that the information it had received from Mr. Steele was politically motivated.

The document is also said to contest Republican claims that Andrew G. McCabe, the deputy director of the F.B.I. at the time, had testified before the Intelligence Committee late last year that the agency would not have sought a wiretap of Mr. Page without Mr. Steele’s dossier of information.

The Republican reversal on the release of the Democratic memo shifts the burden of action to President Trump, who now has five days to block its release. Doing so would elicit more charges from Democrats that Republicans want to keep Democratic counterevidence under wraps in order to impugn the credibility of the Justice Department and FBI as the Russia investigation continues.

Allowing the release, on the other hand, would neuter those claims and make little difference to supporters already convinced by weeks of rhetoric from the conservative press and Republican lawmakers that the Nunes memo’s claims are sound and troubling. The White House has yet to signal whether it will allow the memo’s release, but Trump tweeted on Monday morning that the Intelligence Committee’s ranking Democrat, Rep. Adam Schiff, “is one of the biggest liars and leakers in Washington,” saying he “[m]ust be stopped!”

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Osita Nwanevu

Osita Nwanevu is a Slate staff writer. Follow him on Twitter.