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The classified Intel memo: What you need to know

House Republicans are clamoring for the release of a classified memo that they say provides shocking new information about the FBI's investigation into possible cooperation between the Trump campaign and Russia.

The four-page House Intelligence Committee memo was written by Chairman Devin NunesDevin Gerald NunesFive key takeaways from the Russian indictments Shepard Smith: New Mueller indictments prove Russia probe is 'opposite of a hoax' Schiff: 'We're very close to reaching an agreement' with FBI on countermemo MORE (R-Calif.) and his staff and is said to detail allegations that the FBI abused its surveillance powers.

The document has sparked a frenzy, even spawning a Twitter hashtag, #releasethememo.

Here’s what you need to know about the memo.

Who has seen it?

Lawmakers on the House Intelligence Committee voted last week, along party lines, to grant all House members access to the memo.

Nunes, however, rejected the request of Senate Intelligence Committee Chairman Sen. Richard BurrRichard Mauze BurrOvernight Finance: Senate rejects Trump immigration plan | U.S. Bancorp to pay 0M in fines for lacking money laundering protections | Cryptocurrency market overcharges users | Prudential fights to loosen oversight Senators introduce bill to help businesses with trade complaints Our intelligence chiefs just want to tell the truth about national security MORE (R-N.C.) to view the document this week. 

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In addition to Nunes, an even smaller group of lawmakers have the security clearance to view the highly classified materials that support the conclusions draw in the memo. Only a core group of congressional leaders known as the Gang of Eight, which includes Nunes and Rep. Adam SchiffAdam Bennett SchiffGOP strategist confronts ex-Trump staffer: ‘I’m sick of you guys making excuses for him’ Shepard Smith goes after Trump for not condemning Russia in tweets Trump: Why didn't Obama 'do something about Russian meddling?' MORE (D-Calif.), can view the underlying intelligence information.

A spokesman for Nunes told The Hill on Thursday that the committee has not briefed the White House on the contents of the memo.

How are the FBI and DOJ involved?

The panel will not allow the Department of Justice (DOJ) and the FBI to view the documents, even though they have demanded access.

Rep. Trey GowdyHarold (Trey) Watson GowdyOvernight Energy: Dems ask Pruitt to justify first-class travel | Obama EPA chief says reg rollback won't stand | Ex-adviser expects Trump to eventually rejoin Paris accord Overnight Regulation: Trump to take steps to ban bump stocks | Trump eases rules on insurance sold outside of ObamaCare | FCC to officially rescind net neutrality Thursday | Obama EPA chief: Reg rollback won't stand GOP lawmakers: Obama admin ‘hastily’ wrote lead ammunition ban MORE (R-S.C.), a senior member on the Intelligence Committee, said they are resisting the government’s requests to view the documents because the FBI and DOJ had been slow to produce the information that Republicans used to produce the memo.

Assistant Attorney General Stephen Boyd in a Thursday letter to Nunes warned that making the information public would violate the information-sharing agreement the DOJ reached earlier this month with Nunes and Speaker Paul RyanPaul Davis RyanRepublicans are avoiding gun talks as election looms The Hill's 12:30 Report Flake to try to force vote on DACA stopgap plan MORE (R-Wis.). He said releasing the memo without allowing the agencies to review potential cases of wrongdoing would be an "unprecedented" and "extraordinarily reckless” decision.

What does the memo say?

The contents of the document are shrouded in mystery.

Republican lawmakers who viewed the memo, however, have sounded the alarm about its contents. They say the document provides hard evidence of senior FBI and DOJ officials making politically motivated decisions that ultimately sparked special counsel Robert MuellerRobert Swan MuellerSasse: US should applaud choice of Mueller to lead Russia probe MORE's investigation into whether Trump campaign officials coordinated with Russia.

Reporting indicates that the memo outlines allegations that the FBI used the controversial "Steele dossier" to obtain a surveillance warrant in fall 2016 against Trump campaign adviser Carter Page. Such surveillance warrants hardly ever rest on a single piece of information, however.

While Nunes says the memo is made up of “facts,” Democrats have fiercely rejected that characterization, describing the document as “talking points,” “misleading” or just flat out “lies,” in some cases.

“I think the whole political purpose of this is to make a misleading case to the public, perpetuate the president’s political narrative, but not let the public see the underlying materials that would show just how distorted it is — I think that’s by design,” said Schiff, the top Democrat on the Intelligence Committee.

Schiff and other Democrats also insist the document cannot prove Republican lawmakers’ allegations of corruption at the FBI because most of the GOP lawmakers expressing concern only have access to the memo — not the intelligence materials that are necessary to verify such claims.

Why is it controversial?

The memo comes as many GOP lawmakers are stepping up their attacks against special counsel Robert Mueller and his Russia investigation, which is looking into ties between the Trump campaign and Russia.

Democrats are accusing Republicans of using the memo as a distraction as well as an attempt to undermine the credibility of Mueller’s investigation, which is heating up with interviews that are reaching the president’s inner circle.

Republicans say Democrats are ignoring evidence of wrongdoing and bias at the FBI.

Staunch conservatives, like GOP Reps. Matt GaetzMatthew (Matt) GaetzBipartisan bill offered in House to protect marijuana users in legal weed states House Republican says Trump calls him regularly ‘because I defend him on television’ The Memo: Nunes ‘bombshell’ fails to move debate MORE (Fla), Jim JordanJames (Jim) Daniel JordanCNN's Cuomo spars with GOP lawmaker over memos in heated exchange Burned by the budget, right warns Ryan on immigration Freedom Caucus chairman on budget deal: 'The swamp won and the American taxpayer lost' MORE (Ohio) and Mark MeadowsMark Randall MeadowsHouse conservative rejects ‘any suggestion of a coup on the speakership’ Freedom Caucus chairman warns Ryan over immigration Burned by the budget, right warns Ryan on immigration MORE (N.C,), assert that the contents of the memo are so incriminating that government officials could potentially face criminal prosecution.

Other GOP lawmakers said the memo could expose the basis for the Russia investigation as a fraud initiated by Obama-era government officials.

Republicans are suggesting that the FBI did not adequately explain to a clandestine court that some of the information it used to obtain a surveillance warrant for Page was the dossier, which contains unverified allegations about Trump’s ties to Russia. Some work on the dossier was funded by the Democratic National Committee and Democratic presidential nominee Hillary ClintonHillary Diane Rodham ClintonWoman behind pro-Trump Facebook page denies being influenced by Russians Trump: CNN, MSNBC 'got scammed' into covering Russian-organized rally Pennsylvania Democrats set to win big with new district map MORE's campaign.

Nunes crafted the memo without consulting Democrats on the committee. Although Schiff, on Wednesday, announced plans to write a memo that would run counter to the claims Nunes’s document makes, but he would need Nunes to hold a vote to release it.

The two memos from members of the same committee — the panel’s senior leaders — serves as a further escalation of the bitter partisan fighting that has plagued the panel. 

Democrats are accusing their GOP colleagues of purposely plucking facts to fuel their own political narrative in an attempt to protect the president.

Is it ever going to be public?

As the hype over the memo rolls into its third week, Republicans appear to be moving toward a vote as soon as next week.

Nunes could call for a vote to release the memo. If a majority of members on the Intelligence Committee agree to make it public and if President TrumpDonald John TrumpAccuser says Trump should be afraid of the truth Woman behind pro-Trump Facebook page denies being influenced by Russians Shulkin says he has White House approval to root out 'subversion' at VA MORE does not object, then the information will be released publicly. The White House has indicated that it is interested in its release.

“We certainly support full transparency, and we believe that’s [up to] the House Intel Committee to make that choice at this point,” White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders said at the White House press briefing on Tuesday.

If Trump, who has five days to block its release, vetoes the decision and sides with the Justice Department, the House could still override him in a floor vote.

The executive branch owns the underlying intelligence material so Trump, if he wanted to, could unilaterally make it public.

Nunes is under heavy pressure to release the memo from his Republican colleagues.

Gaetz along with 65 other lawmakers in a letter last week called on Nunes to release the memo, saying “the audience of this document should not be limited to Members of Congress — the American people deserve to know the information it contains.”

-Updated Jan. 27 at 8:06 a.m.