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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 NunesOvernight Defense: Administration says 'low to moderate confidence' Russia behind Afghanistan troop bounties | 'Low to medium risk' of Russia invading Ukraine in next few weeks | Intelligence leaders face sharp questions during House worldwide threats he Hillicon Valley: Biden administration sanctions Russia for SolarWinds hack, election interference Intelligence leaders face sharp questions during House worldwide threats hearing 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 GrassleyChuck GrassleyGrassley: Iowa can't afford to be 'babysitting' unaccompanied minors Anti-Asian hate crimes bill overcomes first Senate hurdle On The Money: Senate confirms Gensler to lead SEC | Senate GOP to face off over earmarks next week | Top Republican on House tax panel to retire MORE (R-Iowa) and Vice Chairman Sen. Dianne FeinsteinDianne Emiel FeinsteinOvernight Defense: Army moves to combat sexual crimes | Eight West Point cadets expelled | Democratic senators want to restrict F-35 sale to UAE A proposal to tackle congressional inside trading: Invest in the US Democratic senators seek to constrain F-35 sale to UAE MORE (D-Calif.), as well as Sens. Lindsey GrahamLindsey Olin GrahamWall Street spent .9B on campaigns, lobbying in 2020 election: study Biden aide: Ability to collect daily intel in Afghanistan 'will diminish' Leaving Afghanistan: Is it victory or defeat? MORE (R-S.C.) and Sheldon WhitehouseSheldon WhitehouseLawmakers say fixing border crisis is Biden's job Democrats wrestle over tax hikes for infrastructure Democrats look to impose capital gains tax at death MORE (D-R.I.), who sit on the panel.

House Judiciary Chairman Bob GoodlatteRobert (Bob) William GoodlatteBottom line No documents? Hoping for legalization? Be wary of Joe Biden Press: Trump's final presidential pardon: himself 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 RatcliffeTrump alumni launch America First Policy Institute Sunday shows preview: Democrats eye two-part infrastructure push; Michigan coronavirus cases surge Former Trump officials eye bids for political office 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 SchiffOvernight Defense: Administration says 'low to moderate confidence' Russia behind Afghanistan troop bounties | 'Low to medium risk' of Russia invading Ukraine in next few weeks | Intelligence leaders face sharp questions during House worldwide threats he Hillicon Valley: Biden administration sanctions Russia for SolarWinds hack, election interference Intelligence leaders face sharp questions during House worldwide threats hearing MORE (D-Calif.) said he and Rep. Trey GowdyTrey GowdyPompeo rebukes Biden's new foreign policy The Hunter Biden problem won't go away Sunday shows preview: Joe Biden wins the 2020 election 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 HimesHouse panel spars over GameStop frenzy, trading apps COVID-19 could complicate Pelosi's path to Speaker next year Democrats debate fate of Trump probes if Biden wins 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 RooneyRepublican rips GOP lawmakers for voting by proxy from CPAC House Dem calls on lawmakers to 'insulate' election process following Mueller report Hill-HarrisX poll: 76 percent oppose Trump pardoning former campaign aides 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 RyanOn The Money: Senate confirms Gensler to lead SEC | Senate GOP to face off over earmarks next week | Top Republican on House tax panel to retire Trump faces test of power with early endorsements Lobbying world 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 ClintonPelosi on power in DC: 'You have to seize it' Cuba readies for life without Castro Chelsea Clinton: Pics of Trump getting vaccinated would help him 'claim credit' 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 ConawayEx-Rep. Mike Conaway, former aide launch lobbying firm Thompson named top Republican on Agriculture Bottom line 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.