House Republicans and right-wing media outlets were in a frenzy Friday afternoon calling for the release of a classified memo that allegedly details foreign-surveillance abuses under the Obama administration. But some analysts say the GOP’s outrage over the memo is designed to discredit the FBI and special counsel Robert Mueller’s Russia investigation.
The frenzy comes after the House Intelligence Committee voted along party lines Thursday to release the classified memo to all House members following the Senate’s 60-38 vote to reauthorize the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act. FISA controversially allows the U.S. to search phone records and emails of non-U.S. citizens abroad without warrants.
Some House Republicans allege the memo outlines widespread FISA abuses by the Obama administration in their investigation of Russian meddling in the 2016 U.S. presidential campaign.
“I have read the memo. The sickening reality has set in. I no longer hold out hope there is an innocent explanation for the information the public has seen. I have long said it is worse than Watergate. It was #neverTrump & #alwaysHillary. #releasethememo,” tweeted Rep. Steve King of Iowa.
Rep. Rob Wittman of Virginia called the memo “deeply concerning,” while Rep. Lee Zeldin of New York called for its “immediate public release.”
Speaking on Fox News, Rep. Scott Perry of Pennsylvania said, “You think about, ‘Is this happening in America or is this the KGB?’ That's how alarming it is.”
Even Donald Trump Jr. got involved, tweeting that “Democrats & deep state govt officials are doing everything they can to protect those within the government who used their positions of influence to target those they disagree with politically.”
But Rep. Adam Schiff of California, the ranking Democrat on the House Intelligence Committee, described the memo as inaccurate and a “profoundly misleading set of talking points,” according to CBS News.
"Rife with factual inaccuracies and referencing highly classified materials that most of Republican Intelligence Committee members were forced to acknowledge they had never read, this is meant only to give Republican House members a distorted view of the FBI," Schiff's statement said. "This may help carry White House water, but it is a deep disservice to our law enforcement professionals."
Republicans have for the past several weeks waged a campaign to discredit the FBI and the special counsel’s investigation into possible collusion between the Trump campaign and Russia, as the probe has intensified.
Analysts are wondering why President Trump or House Intelligence Committee Republicans wouldn’t just declassify the memo, since they hold the majority and could do so without Democratic support.
Still, WikiLeaks is offering up to $1 million for anyone who leaks the FISA memo.
The bill now heads to President Trump’s desk, but some GOP members say he shouldn’t sign it, in light of the memo.