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Democrats step up demands for release of their own memo

House Intelligence Committee Democrats are pushing for a vote as soon as Monday to release their own classified memo countering a four-page Republican document that was released Friday afternoon.

The White House has signaled that it is open to allowing the release of the Democratic memo, as have some committee Republicans and Speaker Paul RyanPaul Davis RyanMcConnell: 'Whoever gets to 60 wins' on immigration Overnight Defense: Latest on spending fight - House passes stopgap with defense money while Senate nears two-year budget deal | Pentagon planning military parade for Trump | Afghan war will cost B in 2018 House passes stopgap spending measure with defense money MORE (R-Wis.).

But it remains to be seen how much of the document will be allowed to be made public. Committee Republicans who have seen the Democratic memo have said it is highly detailed and would need to be heavily redacted before release, and both the White House and Ryan alluded to the need to protect intelligence sources and methods. 

“If it is scrubbed to ensure it does not reveal sources and methods of our intelligence gathering, the speaker supports the release of the Democrats' memo,” AshLee Strong, a spokeswoman for Ryan, said in a statement.

A spokesman for the House Intelligence Committee did not respond to a request for comment. 

It remains unclear whether the Republican-led panel will allow a vote to release the second document on Monday — or if such a vote would be successful.

House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthyKevin Owen McCarthyDems confront Kelly after he calls some immigrants 'lazy' McConnell: 'Whoever gets to 60 wins' on immigration Hoyer: DACA deal a long ways off MORE (R-Calif.) in a statement Friday indicated the Democratic memo will be released.

"As the committee prepares for the release of the minority memo, we must recommit that despite political differences, our single greatest responsibility is to protect the American people. Our law enforcement agencies do that dutifully every day, and this oversight work ensures they will be able to continue to do that every day moving forward."

The Democratic memo was crafted to rebut what the minority sees as misleading and inaccurate claims in the GOP memo, crafted by staff for Chairman Devin NunesDevin Gerald NunesTrump likely to approve release of Dem memo: report Trump called for unity — he didn’t even last a week Mark Levin: Clinton colluded with Russia, 'paid for a warrant' to surveil Carter Page MORE (R-Calif.). That document, which was declassified and made public on Friday, lays out a series of allegations of anti-Trump bias at the Justice Department. 

Among other allegations, it accuses senior officials of inappropriately using a piece of opposition research into Trump during the presidential race to obtain a surveillance warrant on Carter Page, who had been a foreign policy adviser to the Trump campaign. 

Nunes and other Republicans have defended the memo as an important effort at transparency. “The Committee has discovered serious violations of the public trust, and the American people have a right to know when officials in crucial institutions are abusing their authority for political purposes," Nunes said in a statement.  

The document does not specify any particular criminal statutes that may have been violated, and Democrats say it cherry-picks from the underlying intelligence in order “to circle the wagons around the White House and insulate the President.” 

“As the Minority memo makes clear, none of this is true,” Democrats said in a joint statement about the GOP memo. “The FBI had good reason to be concerned about Carter Page and would have been derelict in its responsibility to protect the country had it not sought a FISA warrant.” 

A Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) warrant is issued by a clandestine court and allows the government to surveil specified targets.

The panel voted on Monday to make the Nunes memo public, but voted down a slate of motions by ranking member Adam SchiffAdam Bennett SchiffTrump likely to approve release of Dem memo: report Trump called for unity — he didn’t even last a week Trump to be briefed on Democratic memo MORE (D-Calif.) designed to ensure the release of the minority's memo concurrently. The committee did vote to make the Democratic memo available to the entire House, as it had previously done with the Nunes memo. Republicans say they are merely requiring the Democratic memo to go through the same process that the Nunes memo did. 

But the move concerned even some Republicans. Sen. Susan CollinsSusan Margaret CollinsMcConnell: 'Whoever gets to 60 wins' on immigration GOP senators turning Trump immigration framework into legislation Longtime Clinton confidant blames Comey for 2016 loss MORE (R-Maine), who sits on the Senate Intelligence Committee, on Friday noted that when that committee released its controversial report on enhanced interrogation — the so-called torture report — the panel voted simultaneously to release a rebuttal from the CIA and minority views.

“This model of bipartisanship and careful vetting would have been a far better way to proceed,” she said in a statement.

Collins also noted that despite “serious and genuine concerns” raised by the Justice Department and the FBI about the national security implications of releasing the GOP memo, “it does not appear that any redactions or revisions were made to satisfy these legitimate concerns.”

FISA warrants are so highly classified that even the existence of a given warrant is supposed to be kept a secret. Exposing the existence of the Page warrant was by any standard an extraordinary move, surveillance experts note.

Senate Republican Conference Chairman John ThuneJohn Randolph ThuneOvernight Tech: Uber exec says 'no justification' for covering up hack | Apple considers battery rebates | Regulators talk bitcoin | SpaceX launches world's most powerful rocket Apple tells senator it may give rebates to consumers who bought iPhone batteries Republican agenda clouded by division MORE (R-S.D.) also cautioned the House committee that it should make the Democratic document public if it released the Nunes memorandum. 

"If you're going to release one, I think you have to release the other," he told reporters Thursday.

Because their document remains classified, Democrats are blocked from discussing the details of their own dissent. But the memo “rebuts the Nunes memo point-by-point,” according to Rep. Eric SwalwellEric Michael SwalwellDem lawmaker introduces bill to protect journalists from violence Lawmakers dispute ‘vindication’ for Trump in Intel memo House Intel Dem blasts GOP rep for failing to disclose key info in Nunes memo MORE (D-Calif.), as well as provides “new, unseen evidence that bolsters the FBI's credibility and the seriousness of the Russia investigation.” 

In a lengthy statement released Friday, the Democrats on the Intelligence Committee described many of the assertions in the Nunes memo as inaccurate or lacking important context. 

According to the Nunes memo, information from the so-called Steele dossier was "essential" to the acquisition of surveillance warrants on Page. It says the application "cited extensively" a 2016 Yahoo News article focused on a trip that Page made to Moscow that year, but "incorrectly assesses" that the author of the dossier, Christopher Steele, was not the source of the story, according to the memo. But “this is not at all why the article was referenced,” Democrats say.

The memo alleges that the political origins of the dossier — partially paid for by Hillary Clinton and the Democratic National Committee (DNC) — were not disclosed to the clandestine court that signed off on the warrant request. This is “not accurate,” Democrats say.

“These are but a few of the serious mischaracterizations of the FISA application. There are many more set out in the Democratic response, which we will again be seeking a vote to release publicly on Monday,” Democrats said, noting that they would seek the input of the relevant agencies to process any redactions necessary to protect sources and methods.

Surveillance experts have long claimed that the accuracy of the Republican memo's allegations will be virtually impossible to assess without seeing the warrant application for Page.

Only a handful of lawmakers on the committee had seen intelligence backing up the memo when the panel voted on Monday to release it.

Nunes himself has apparently not viewed the underlying information.

Updated at 4:59 p.m.