House Intelligence ranking member Rep. Adam Schiff Wednesday accused Committee Chairman Devin Nunes of making “material changes” in secret to an explosive memo alleging FBI abuses of power, currently under review by the White House.
The letter accuses Republican Nunes of sending a version of the memo to the president that is different from the version the Committee approved Monday.
"It is now imperative that the Committee Majority immediately withdraw the document that it sent to the White House," Democrat 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."
Nunes admitted making “minor edits” to the document, but characterized them as “grammatical fixes and two edits requested by the FBI and by the Minority themselves.” Nunes said Schiff’s letter was part of an “increasingly strange attempt to thwart publication.”
Prepared by Nunes, the document alleges surveillance abuses connected with obtaining a warrant on Carter Page, a member of Trump's campaign team. It has stirred widespread controversy in recent weeks, and has been dismissed by Democrats as part of a concerted Republican effort to discredit the FBI and special counsel Robert Mueller’s probe into election meddling.
Schiff’s letter came hours after the FBI made a rare public statement, saying it had “grave concerns” about the memo’s accuracy.
Nunes had previously been warned not to release the document by the Department of Justice — who called the move “extraordinarily reckless” — and FBI director Christopher Wray, who cited a possible threat to national security.
The House Intelligence Committee voted Monday to release Nunes’ memo, while blocking a counter memo from the Democrats. The White House has five days to approve its public release.
Prior to Schiff’s accusation, the Trump administration appeared inclined towards release.
White House chief of staff John Kelly said in an interview on Fox News Radio Wednesday: “It will be released here pretty quick, I think, and the whole world can see it.”
However, Axios reported Thursday the White House may be thinking the memo's release, possibly in relation t Schiff's tweet.
Cover image: Ranking member Rep. Adam Schiff questions witnesses as chairman Rep. Devin Nunes looks on during a House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence hearing concerning Russian meddling in the 2016 United States election, on Capitol Hill, March 20, 2017 in Washington. (Drew Angerer/Getty Images).