The House Intelligence Committee voted on party lines Monday to release a controversial and classified memo that Republican members of Congress have said contains evidence of surveillance abuses surrounding the Russia investigation.
The committee’s decision to release the memo, which was written by Republican staffers, shows House Intel Republicans using an obscure rule for what appears to be the first time, in defiance of warnings from the Department of Justice and the FBI to not release the document for national security reasons. The Republicans on the committee appear to be siding with the President, who has previously accused both of the agencies of being “deep state.”
The committee simultaneously blocked the House Intel Democrats’ attempt at publishing a counter memo, which they say provides necessary context to ensure the public has all the facts, according to the committee’s top Democrat Rep. Adam Schiff of California. Schiff also said that Republicans on the committee have decided to investigate the Department of Justice and the FBI.
"I think we have crossed a deeply regrettable line," Schiff said after the vote.
Conservative House Republicans have alleged that the classified memo produced by Republican Rep. Devin Nunes of California, said to involve information about the surveillance of former Trump aide Carter Page, is “worse than Watergate” and “shocking.” House Democrats, on the other hand, say its “highly misleading” and an attempt by Republicans to try and undermine special counsel Mueller’s investigation into the Trump campaign’s alleged collusion with Russia.
The President has five days to accept or decline the committee's vote to make the memo public. The White House has largely shown willingness to declassify the document, according to CNN, both because of its continued attacks on the FBI and the DOJ, as well as its attempts at undercutting Mueller’s investigation.
The Department of Justice wrote a letter to Rep. Nunes last week, saying that releasing the memo would be “extraordinarily reckless.”
"Indeed, we do not understand why the committee would possibly seek to disclose classified and law enforcement sensitive information without first consulting with the relevant members of the intelligence community,” the letter stated.
This story is developing and will be updated.