National Security

House Intel schedules business meeting as expectations for vote on secret memo grow

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The House Intelligence Committee could vote as early as Monday evening to release a controversial memo authored by committee Chairman Devin Nunes (R-Calif.) alleging surveillance abuses at the Department of Justice. 

The panel issued a last-minute notice of a business meeting at 5 p.m. for “consideration of pending committee business and other matters.” The memo did not specify a vote on the memo, but one has been expected amidst a crescendo of calls from the right. 
A committee spokesman said a vote on Monday night was possible but “not 100 percent.” Nunes has not committed publicly to holding the vote. 
The memo is believed to contain allegations that senior leadership at the Justice Department did not adequately explain to a clandestine court that some of the evidence used in an application for a surveillance warrant on Trump campaign aide Carter Page was funded by Democrats. 
Committee Democrats say that the Republican memo is full of misleading talking points and have prepared their own memo to rebut the document. It is unclear whether the committee will vote to make the Democratic memo public. 
Republicans are relying on an archaic House rule that members say the committee has never used before to release the memo. If the panel votes to override the classification of the document and make it public, the White House would have five days to oppose its publication. 
The Justice Department, which has been blocked from viewing the document, has opposed the move. But the White House, which also says it has not viewed the memo, has signaled support for its release.
“I think the president is more inclined for transparency in this investigation,” legislative affairs director Marc Short said on “Fox News Sunday,” referring to special counsel Robert Mueller’s probe into Russian election meddling and possible ties between the Trump campaign and Russia. 
“To the extent that the House, I think, has advocated that it’s publicly released, I think the president is receptive to that.”
On Monday morning, deputy press secretary Raj Shah hinted on CNN that the Justice Department would not have an opportunity to review the document during the White House pre-release review. 
“The Department of Justice doesn’t have a role in this process,” he told CNN. 
Assistant Attorney General Stephen Boyd — a Trump appointee — wrote in a letter to Nunes that releasing the memo publicly would be “extraordinarily reckless” and endanger national security.
Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) warrants are highly classified — even the existence of a given warrant is classified — and Boyd in his letter warned Nunes that the reported allegations in the memo would be based on information that “neither you nor most of [the committee have] seen.” 
According to lawmakers, the memo is based on sensitive documents provided by the Justice Department. 
The agency expressed concerns common to the exposure of any classified information: that its public release will damage ongoing investigations and harm national security by burning sources and laying bare intelligence community capabilities.

“Indeed, we do not understand why the committee would possibly seek to disclose classified and law enforcement sensitive information without first consulting with the relevant members of the Intelligence Community,” Boyd wrote.

Republicans have said that the Department of Justice should not be permitted to see the memo because it addresses wrongdoing at the department itself. Republicans for months have accused the department of unacceptable levels of bias against President Trump. Shah on Monday said the release would “send a message of accountability.” 

Some GOP members who have viewed the memo have hinted heavily that it contains the key to unraveling the special counsel investigation, long described by the president as a “witch hunt.”

There has been no public evidence to date that Justice officials abused the FISA process in obtaining a warrant on Page. 
Updated at 10:12 a.m.
Tags Department of Justice Devin Nunes Donald Trump FBI Robert Mueller Russia

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