Dem senator: Nunes memo ‘reminiscent of the darkest days of the McCarthy era’

Sen. Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.) compared House Intelligence Committee Chairman Devin NunesDevin Gerald NunesDemocrats' opposition research got exposed — this time, not by the Russians GOP consultant sued by Nunes asks for help paying legal costs Hillicon Valley: Hacker group targeted electric grid | House Democrats press CBP over facial recognition program | Senators offer bill to protect health data | Groups file FCC complaint over carriers' use of location data MORE's (R-Calif.) move to make a memo on surveillance at the Department of Justice (DOJ) public to former Sen. Joseph McCarthy's (R-Wis.) aggressive probe of suspected communists in the 1950s.

"The release of this memo is really reminiscent of the darkest days of the McCarthy era, with character assassinations," Blumenthal told CNN's Alisyn Camerota on "New Day." 

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"It endangers methods and sources of the intelligence community, and it reflects an effort to distract from the [Robert] Mueller investigation," he continued, referring to the special counsel probing alleged ties between the Trump campaign and Russia's election meddling.

McCarthy claimed numerous Soviet and communist sympathizers had infiltrated the U.S. government during the Cold War. 

The House Intelligence Committee voted on Monday to make the GOP-drafted memo public, which alleges abuse of surveillance at the DOJ. President TrumpDonald John TrumpCNN's Camerota clashes with Trump's immigration head over president's tweet LA Times editorial board labels Trump 'Bigot-in-Chief' Trump complains of 'fake polls' after surveys show him trailing multiple Democratic candidates MORE has to sign off on releasing the document.

Democrats say the memo works to undermine Mueller's probe. 

The FBI expressed its concerns on the memo in a rare public statement on Thursday. 

"As expressed during our initial review, we have grave concerns about material omissions of fact that fundamentally impact the memo’s accuracy," the FBI said. 

The committee's ranking Democrat Rep. Adam SchiffAdam Bennett SchiffTrump knocks Mueller after deal struck for him to testify Mueller to give extended testimony after appearance postponed Mueller testimony likely to be delayed for one week MORE (Calif.) on Wednesday claimed that Nunes had shared a "secretly altered" version of the document with Trump. 

"Discovered late tonight that Chairman Nunes made material changes to the memo he sent to White House — changes not approved by the Committee. White House, therefore, reviewing a document the Committee has not approved for release." Schiff said in a tweet.

Blumenthal told Camerota changes made to the memo were done without the knowledge of Democrats working on the committee.

"What we know for sure is that they are unauthorized by the minority on the committee. They were made without their knowledge or approval," Blumenthal said.

Trump was expected to announce his decision on whether to release the memo on Friday; however, Schiff's letter could delay that decision.