Several lawmakers have seen intelligence behind Nunes memo

Only a handful of lawmakers had seen intelligence backing up a controversial memo spearheaded by House Intelligence Committee Chairman Devin NunesDevin Gerald NunesThe Hill's 12:30 Report — Presented by Kidney Care Partners — Lawmakers scramble as shutdown deadline nears ‘Fox & Friends’ host asks if McCabe opening FBI probe into Trump was attempt to ‘overthrow government’ Nunes says GOP lawmakers looking through Russia transcripts, will make DOJ referrals MORE (R-Calif.) when the panel voted on Monday to release it — frustrating Democrats as well as the Justice Department.

But outside the House Intelligence Committee, the pool of lawmakers who looked at the underlying information, a tranche of documents provided by the Justice Department as part of a Nunes-led investigation into surveillance abuses at the FBI, was broader — and appears to have grown in the two days since the vote.

According to a review by The Hill, confirmed by Justice Department spokeswoman Sarah Isgur Flores, at least seven members or their staff, beyond a core group of congressional leaders known as the Gang of Eight, had reviewed the underlying material as of last week.

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Flores told The Hill that “bipartisan viewing was done on a committee-by-committee basis.”

Those members are mostly lawmakers serving on the House and Senate Judiciary committees, which have jurisdiction over the Department of Justice.

This group includes Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Chuck GrassleyCharles (Chuck) Ernest GrassleySenate approves border bill that prevents shutdown Grassley raises voice after McConnell interrupts Senate speech Senate confirms Trump pick William Barr as new attorney general MORE (R-Iowa) and Vice Chairman Sen. Dianne FeinsteinDianne Emiel FeinsteinFeinstein says she thinks Biden will run after meeting with him Trump judicial nominee Neomi Rao seeks to clarify past remarks on date rape Bottom Line MORE (D-Calif.), as well as Sens. Lindsey GrahamLindsey Olin GrahamGraham seeks new Rosenstein testimony after explosive McCabe interview Senate confirms Trump pick William Barr as new attorney general Graham demands testimony from former FBI acting Director McCabe MORE (R-S.C.) and Sheldon WhitehouseSheldon WhitehouseNew battle lines in war over Trump’s judicial picks Dems probing whether NRA made illegal contributions to Trump Senate panel advances Trump's pick for key IRS role MORE (D-R.I.), who sit on the panel.

House Judiciary Chairman Bob GoodlatteRobert (Bob) William GoodlatteIt’s time for Congress to pass an anti-cruelty statute DOJ opinion will help protect kids from dangers of online gambling House GOP probe into FBI, DOJ comes to an end MORE (R-Va.) and ranking member Rep. Jerrold Nadler (D-N.Y.) or their staff viewed the document as well, according to the list provided by the Justice Department.

GOP Rep. John RatcliffeJohn Lee RatcliffeDems seize on Trump feud with intelligence leaders GOP announces members who will serve on House intel panel Congress can open the door to true digital service delivery in government MORE (R-Texas) viewed the documents this week — after the vote.  

According to a transcript of the closed-door meeting released Wednesday, ranking member Adam SchiffAdam Bennett SchiffHillicon Valley: New York says goodbye to Amazon's HQ2 | AOC reacts: 'Anything is possible' | FTC pushes for record Facebook fine | Cyber threats to utilities on the rise Schiff calls out Facebook, Google over anti-vaccination information Rule change sharpens Dem investigations into Trump MORE (D-Calif.) said he and Rep. Trey GowdyHarold (Trey) Watson GowdyTrey Gowdy joins Fox News as a contributor Congress must take the next steps on federal criminal justice reforms Lynch testimony marks final interview of GOP-led probe MORE (R-S.C.) were the only people on the committee to have reviewed the supporting intelligence.

“When all of this information is made available, there will be an accounting for all of us based on what is true,” Rep. Jim HimesJames (Jim) Andres HimesDem lawmaker on Omar tweet: Be careful about how you discuss sensitive issues Dems seize on Trump feud with intelligence leaders Meghan McCain on Ocasio-Cortez: She is 'just like Trump on Twitter' MORE (D-Conn.) said Monday night during the vote meeting, according to a transcript released on Wednesday.

“If it turns out that the majority memo is wrong there will be hell to pay. If it turns out that the minority memo is wrong, there will be hell to pay,” he said.

The Gang of Eight — consisting of the top Republican and Democrat in both the House and Senate, and the leaders from both parties on the Senate and House Intelligence committees — was long assumed to have had access to the underlying intelligence, though Senate lawmakers were blocked from viewing the Nunes memo.

The Nunes document is not yet public and it remains unclear what proof it offers of FBI misconduct.

“It’s what we believe based on what we’ve researched,” Rep. Tom RooneyThomas (Tom) Joseph RooneyEx-GOP lawmaker joins family firm  The Year Ahead: Tech braces for new scrutiny from Washington GOP struggles to win votes for Trump’s B wall demand MORE (R-Fla.) said when the memo was first made available to House members.

Nunes has previously brushed aside the notion that the memo wouldn’t be persuasive without the underlying intelligence to substantiate its claims, characterizing the document as “facts” and calling the argument Democratic obstruction of his investigation into Justice Department misconduct.

But Democrats have argued that Republicans have cherry-picked information and that without access to the underlying material, the document cannot be taken as proof of the allegations it contains.

“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,” Schiff has previously said.

“The problem is, we can’t point out the inaccuracies without relying on the underlying material,” he said.

The Justice Department has made similar complaints, with Assistant Attorney General Stephen Boyd writing in a letter to Nunes that voting to release the document “would require [House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence] committee members to vote on a staff-drafted memorandum that purports to be based on classified source materials that neither you nor most of them have seen.”

The FBI, in a rare public statement on Wednesday, characterized the document as misleading, saying it has “grave concerns about material omissions of fact that fundamentally impact the memo’s accuracy.”

Boyd also suggested in his letter to Nunes that releasing the memo publicly would break the terms of the deal they made to provide the documents in the first place. The agreement was brokered by House Speaker Paul RyanPaul Davis RyanRubio discovers Native American heritage through TV show Feminine hygiene products to be available to House lawmakers using congressional funds Former Ryan aide moves to K street MORE (R-Wis.) and spokesmen for both Ryan and Nunes have rejected that claim.

The release of the Nunes memo is now in the hands of the president, who was given five days following the vote to reject its publication on national security grounds. He is widely expected to release it.

The Intelligence panel on Monday voted down several Democratic measures, including an effort to publicly release a countermemo rebutting the claims in the Nunes memo. They voted to make that document available to the entire House, as the Nunes memo was several weeks ago.

Committee Republicans also voted down a measure from Schiff that would have delayed the publication of the Nunes memo until the Department of Justice had briefed House members on the implications of exposing it.

“The Department of Justice and the FBI have been under investigation by this committee for many, many months for FISA abuse and other matters,” Nunes said on Monday, referring to the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act that allows government spying. “That investigation continues. And I would urge my colleagues to vote 'no.' We are not going to be briefed by people that are under investigation by this committee.”

The precise contents of the memo remain unknown. However, it’s believed to contain allegations that the FBI did not adequately explain to a clandestine court that some of the information it used in a surveillance warrant application for Trump adviser Carter Page came from opposition research partially funded by Hillary ClintonHillary Diane Rodham ClintonO’Rourke heading to Wisconsin amid 2020 speculation The Hill's 12:30 Report — Presented by Kidney Care Partners — Lawmakers scramble as shutdown deadline nears Exclusive: Biden almost certain to enter 2020 race MORE’s campaign, now known as the “Steele dossier.”

“We’ve taken the position that this is a serious issue that needs to be disclosed to the public,” Rep. Mike ConawayKenneth (Mike) Michael ConawayAdam Schiff, Glenn Simpson and their Forrest Gump-like encounter in Aspen Schumer hits back at Trump: ‘He’s hostage-taking once again’ Hillicon Valley: House Intel panel will release Russia interviews | T-Mobile, Sprint step up merger push | DHS cyber office hosting webinars on China | Nest warns customers to shore up password security MORE (R-Texas) told reporters after the vote.

The memo will not need to be redacted, he said, as the panel has no concerns that its release will damage national security.

This story was updated at 11:04 a.m. to show that Rep. Ratcliffe has seen the underlying documents.