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House Intel votes to release Democratic rebuttal memo

"Countermemo" released

The House Intelligence Committee voted unanimously to release a memo by the committee's Democrats that rebuts the GOP-authored memo published Friday.

"The vote was unanimous to release this. I think the Republican members understood that after calling for full transparency, they were getting hammered over the course of the week for trying to hide the minority response," the ranking Democrat on the committee, Rep. Adam Schiff, D-California, told reporters after the committee vote. Still, he expressed concern that the White House could make "political redactions, not redactions to protect sources and methods." 

"That's why we're going to insist that the Department of Justice and the FBI report to us on the redactions they think are necessary, so that we can segregate any political interference from the White House," Schiff said. 

The vote on the Democrats' memo took place exactly one week the committee voted along party lines for the public release of a contentious memo on alleged surveillance abuses authored by staffers of Chairman Devin Nunes, R-California. 

House members have already had a chance to read the Democrats' memo. It was released to all members of the House last week, and several dozen lawmakers are said to have come to the committee's secure spaces to review it.  

The GOP memo, which was released over the objections of the Justice Department and FBI, focuses in part on the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) warrants that authorized the surveillance of former Trump campaign foreign policy adviser Carter Page. It attempts to make the case that the FISA warrants relied heavily on the Trump "dossier," arguing that the warrants would not have been obtained without the dossier, which contains information that is not known to have been verified by the intelligence community.

Democrats characterize the GOP memo alternately as "irresponsible" and a "dud." Others read it as a portrayal of improprieties by top leadership at the FBI and Justice Department. In a tweet, President Trump said "this memo totally vindicates 'Trump' in" the ongoing Russia probe.

The minority memo will be subjected to the same 5-day review process by the White House that applied to the majority's memo. The minority memo is being sent to the White House Monday evening, beginning the 5-day clock upon its arrival there. If President Trump objects to its release, the committee can either do nothing, and keep the memo hidden from public view, or vote to send the memo to the full House for another vote, which would take place after a debate in closed session.

On Sunday, a spokeswoman for the White House said of releasing the Democrats' memo, "If voted out, we'll consider it. Nothing more to add."