GOP reps demand release of 'shocking' surveillance memo

A growing number of Republicans are demanding the release of a classified report that they say reveals political bias at the FBI and Department of Justice in the investigation into possible ties between the Trump campaign and Russian election meddling

Rep. Pete KingPeter (Pete) KingBiden pays homage to Obama by rocking tan suit during birthday week Newsmax anchor Greg Kelly to host New York radio show Top GOP lawmakers call for Swalwell to be removed from Intelligence Committee MORE (R-N.Y.) spearheaded the effort this week to allow lawmakers to view a top-secret report compiled by House Intelligence Committee Chairman Devin NunesDevin Gerald NunesSunday shows preview: US reaffirms support for Ukraine amid threat of Russian invasion Florida Rep. Cherfilus-McCormick sworn in as newest House member GOP lawmaker adheres to term limit pledge, won't run for reelection MORE (R-Calif.).

Scores of Republicans have since viewed the document in a Sensitive Compartmented Information Facility on Capitol Hill. They left expressing shock, saying the special counsel investigation into whether Trump’s campaign officials had improper contacts with Russia is based on politically motivated actions at the highest level of law enforcement.

House Freedom Caucus Chairman Mark MeadowsMark MeadowsHouse has the power to subpoena its members — but does it have the will? Hannity after Jan. 6 texted McEnany 'no more stolen election talk' in five-point plan for Trump Jan. 6 committee asks Ivanka Trump to sit for interview MORE (R-N.C.) called the memo “shocking.”

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“I’m here to tell all of a America tonight that I’m shocked to read exactly what has taken place,” Meadows (R-N.C.) said in a speech on the House floor. 

“I thought it could never happen in a country that loves freedom and democracy like this country. It is time that we become transparent with all of this, and I’m calling on our leadership to make this available so all Americans can judge for themselves.” 

Meadows and his allies asked GOP leaders in the House to declassify the report as part of a short-term spending bill the House passed late Thursday night. Speaker Paul RyanPaul Davis RyanHow Kevin McCarthy sold his soul to Donald Trump On The Trail: Retirements offer window into House Democratic mood Stopping the next insurrection MORE (R-Wis.) said he wanted to follow House rules on the matter and deferred to Nunes and the Intelligence Committee.

Nunes could call for a vote to release the report on his panel. If a majority on the committee agrees to declassify the report, the executive branch would then need to sign-off to make it public, said Rep. Jim JordanJames (Jim) Daniel JordanBiden: A good coach knows when to change up the team House has the power to subpoena its members — but does it have the will? Jan. 6 committee asks Ivanka Trump to sit for interview MORE (R-Ohio), another Freedom Caucus member.

“It is so alarming the American people have to see this,” Jordan said.

Speculation about the memo and what it might say exploded on social media Thursday night under the hashtag #releasethedocuments. Conservative firebrand Sean Hannity kicked off his Thursday night Fox News show with a message directly to special counsel Robert MuellerRobert (Bob) MuellerAn unquestioning press promotes Rep. Adam Schiff's book based on Russia fiction Senate Democrats urge Garland not to fight court order to release Trump obstruction memo Why a special counsel is guaranteed if Biden chooses Yates, Cuomo or Jones as AG MORE.

“Your witch hunt is now over,” Hannity said. “Time to close the doors.”

Rep. Lee ZeldinLee ZeldinHochul raises .6 million since launching gubernatorial campaign Members of Congress not running for reelection in 2022 Rudy Giuliani becomes grandfather after son welcomes child MORE (R-N.Y.) said the memo contains widespread evidence of “FISA abuse.” Rep. Ron DeSantisRon DeSantisVirginia's Youngkin gets the DeSantis treatment from media Florida redistricting plan faces opposition from DeSantis On immigration, President Biden needs a re-set MORE (R-Fla.) said the report “raises serious questions about the upper echelon of the Obama DOJ and Comey FBI as it relates to the so-called collusion investigation.”

In a statement, Rep. Adam SchiffAdam Bennett SchiffMask rules spark political games and a nasty environment in the House CIA says 'Havana syndrome' unlikely a result of 'worldwide campaign' by foreign power The Hill's Morning Report - Biden to make voting rights play in Atlanta MORE (D-Calif.), the ranking member on the House Intelligence Committee, called the report “a profoundly misleading set of talking points drafted by Republican staff attacking the FBI and its handling of the investigation." 

"Rife with factual inaccuracies and referencing highly classified materials that most Republican Intelligence Committee members were forced to acknowledge they had never read, this is meant only to give Republican House members a distorted view of the FBI," Schiff said. "This may help carry White House water, but it is a deep disservice to our law enforcement professionals."

The sprawling Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA), which governs U.S. spying on foreigners, became politically entangled with the controversy over the federal investigation into President TrumpDonald TrumpCheney challenger wins Wyoming Republican activists' straw poll We must do more to protect American Jews 6 in 10 say they would back someone other than Biden in 2024: Fox News poll MORE's campaign and Russia in March 2017 when Trump tweeted that former President Obama had ordered surveillance on Trump Tower.

Some Republicans have claimed that the FBI used the so-called Steele dossier as the basis to obtain a politically motivated FISA warrant to spy on Trump during the transition — though former FBI officials say this reflects a misunderstanding of the law. 

One former senior official who worked on national security issues noted that, in general, the application for a surveillance warrant involves several layers of authentication of information, suggesting that if any of the information from the dossier were used in an application, it would have been corroborated. Justice Department lawyers often modify orders based on feedback from the court — and they must show probable cause that the target is acting as an agent of a foreign power. 

But Republicans are suggesting the classified memo contains airtight evidence that the FBI and Justice Department have conspired to undermine Trump’s presidency. 

“The revelations contained in the memo prepared by the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence have a compelling public interest and must be declassified and released as soon as possible,” the Republican Study Committee said in a statement.

Lawmakers were tight-lipped about the contents of the memo, as they are barred from unilaterally releasing classified information.

But the lawmakers who have long been claiming that FBI agents and Justice Department officials launched a partisan investigation into Trump said the report vindicated their claims. 

Republicans have long believed that an opposition research memo funded in part by Hillary ClintonHillary Diane Rodham ClintonNo Hillary — the 'Third Way' is the wrong way The dangerous erosion of Democratic Party foundations The Hill's Morning Report - Presented by Facebook - Democrats see victory in a voting rights defeat MORE's presidential campaign and the Democrats — which former FBI Director James ComeyJames Brien ComeyHillary 2024? Given the competition, she may be the Dems' best hope Trump draws attention with admission he 'fired Comey' Countering the ongoing Republican delusion MORE once described as “salacious and unverified” — was used to secure a warrant in a FISA court to spy on Trump and his campaign and transition officials. 

They have also drawn attention to private communications between FBI agents Peter Strzok and Lisa Page, who privately disparaged Trump and other political figures. Strzok had a lead role in the investigation into Clinton’s handling of classified material while secretary of State, and both were on Mueller’s team before getting reassigned. 

GOP lawmakers have also raised the alarm over Bruce Ohr, a senior Justice Department official, who appears to have close ties to the opposition research firm that compiled the anti-Trump dossier. 

“Some of the very people we have been talking about will be exposed as the key reason that all Americans need to see this memo,” Rep. Matt GaetzMatthew (Matt) GaetzMask rules spark political games and a nasty environment in the House Gallego on Jan. 6 rioters: 'F--- them' The Hill's Morning Report - For Biden, it goes from bad to worse MORE (R-Fla.) said on Hannity’s show.

“It names names. It says who was involved with who, how different actors and characters we heard about interacted with one another, and that is a type of information that we need all Americans to see immediately.” 

Katie Bo Williams contributed.