The top Democrat in the House Intelligence Committee, Adam Schiff, has accused his Republican counterpart, Devin Nunes, of making “material changes” to a memo that alleges abuses in FBI surveillance before sending it to the White House. In a letter Schiff sent to Nunes late Wednesday, the Democratic lawmaker said that his staff discovered the memo that President Donald Trump received was “materially different” from what the committee approved.
The White House is reviewing the four-page classified memo that is broadly expected to be released as early as Thursday or Friday—although Schiff’s accusations could ultimately push back that decision. Calling the changes to the memo “deeply troubling,” Schiff said “the White House has been reviewing a document since Monday night that the Committee never approved for release.” Although the Democratic lawmaker didn’t reveal what the changes entailed, he characterized them as “substantive” and said the memo should be recalled.
Trump is still very adamant he wants the memo to be released, but Axios reports there are “rumblings that there could be an 11th-hour extenuating circumstance, perhaps related to Schiff’s tweet.”
“It is now imperative that the Committee Majority immediately withdraw the document that it sent to the White House,” Schiff wrote. “If the Majority remains intent on releasing its document to the public, despite repeated warnings from DOJ and the FBI, it must hold a new vote to release to the public its modified document.”
Republicans immediately dismissed the letter as nothing more than the latest effort by the Democrats to stall the impending release of the memo, insisting that the changes were nothing more than “minor edits” that are ultimately irrelevant. “In its increasingly strange attempt to thwart publication of the memo, the Committee Minority is now complaining about minor edits to the memo, including grammatical fixes and two edits requested by the FBI and by the Minority themselves,” Nunes spokesman Jack Langer said. “The vote to release the memo was absolutely procedurally sound, and in accordance with House and Committee rules. To suggest otherwise is a bizarre distraction from the abuses detailed in the memo, which the public will hopefully soon be able to read for themselves.”
Several outlets quote a senior “senior Democratic committee official” who disputes the characterization of the changes as minor, adding that the ultimate goal was to tone down some of the assertions in the document. “The changes are not cosmetic and almost all of them are unrelated to concerns about sensitive information. Instead, they try to water down some of the Majority’s assertions,” the source said. “While the Minority has continually pointed out flaws in the majority document, we have not requested any changes because we feel the whole document is fundamentally flawed.”
If you think Slate’s election coverage matters…
Support our work: become a Slate Plus member. You’ll get exclusive members-only content and a suite of great benefits—and you’ll help secure Slate’s future.Join Slate Plus