The four-page GOP memo it addresses, on alleged Justice Department surveillance abuses concerning a campaign adviser of President Donald Trump, said federal law was broken in spying on the adviser. The committee and Trump approved its full release last week, without allowing a confidential memo by committee Democrats to also be released.
Republicans say the memo shows evidence of bias from the start of the investigation into Russian electoral interference, and Democrats say it’s an effort by Trump to undermine the investigation.
Committee Democrats have said their 10-page rebuttal corrects errors in the memo and adds context to actions of the FBI and the Justice Department. The GOP memo notes how the department obtained a secret Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court order to wiretap former Trump aide Carter Page.
The Democratic memo says the FBI offered more information than the GOP version suggests. Committee Republicans say the FBI did not mention to the court that information in the warrant request from former British espionage agent Christopher Steele was initially financed by lawyers of Hillary Clinton‘s presidential election committee and the Democratic National Committee.
“What we will learn is that it is not true that this FISA warrant was awarded solely on the basis of the Steele dossier,” Rep. Jim Himes, D-Conn., said Sunday. “We will also learn that the FBI, because they are very careful people, didn’t mislead the judge, that the judge had some sense that this information came out of a political context.”
If the release of the Democratic memo is favored by the committee, it must also receive the president’s approval. If Trump refuses, the release could be overruled by a House vote.
Asked on Sunday if the committee will vote, panel Chairman Rep. Devon Nunes, R-Calif., said, “Yeah, we will.”
Other Republicans who favor releasing the rebuttal are Reps. Tom Toomey of Florida and Peter King of New York.
Trump said the GOP memo “totally vindicates” him in the Russia investigation. Release of the memo, though, did nothing to clear him of either collusion or obstruction of justice, the two topics under investigation by Special Counsel Robert Mueller and two congressional probes. It undermined some Republicans’ efforts to cast doubt on the roots of the investigation in confirming that an inquiry was in progress before law enforcement officials presented material about Steele in to obtain a warrant to follow Page.