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 NunesConservatives wage assault on Mueller report Hillicon Valley: EU hits Google with .7 billion antitrust fine | GOP steps up attack over tech bias claims | Dems ask FTC for budget wishlist | Justices punt on Google privacy settlement Devin Nunes 'cow' parody account overtakes Nunes in Twitter followers 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 GrassleyTreasury expands penalty relief to more taxpayers Overnight Health Care: Senators seek CBO input on preventing surprise medical bills | Oversight panel seeks OxyContin documents | Pharmacy middlemen to testify on prices | Watchdog warns air ambulances can put patients at 'financial risk' Drug prices are a matter of life and death MORE (R-Iowa) and Vice Chairman Sen. Dianne FeinsteinDianne Emiel FeinsteinDem senator: 'Appropriate' for Barr, Mueller to testify publicly about Russia probe GOP lawmaker offers constitutional amendment capping Supreme Court seats at 9 Overnight Energy: Judge halts drilling on Wyoming public lands over climate change | Dems demand details on Interior's offshore drilling plans | Trump mocks wind power MORE (D-Calif.), as well as Sens. Lindsey GrahamLindsey Olin GrahamDem senator: 'Appropriate' for Barr, Mueller to testify publicly about Russia probe Conservatives wage assault on Mueller report Graham expects 'thorough' briefing on Mueller report MORE (R-S.C.) and Sheldon WhitehouseSheldon WhitehouseDems introduce bill requiring disclosure of guest logs from White House, Trump properties Sanders announces first staff hires in Iowa, New Hampshire McConnell works to freeze support for Dem campaign finance effort MORE (D-R.I.), who sit on the panel.

House Judiciary Chairman Bob GoodlatteRobert (Bob) William GoodlatteTop Republican releases full transcript of Bruce Ohr interview It’s time for Congress to pass an anti-cruelty statute DOJ opinion will help protect kids from dangers of online gambling 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 RatcliffeCongress should take action to stop unfair taxation of the digital economy House panel approves controversial changes to Violence Against Women Act Former Texas GOP Rep. Ralph Hall dead at 95 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 SchiffShowdown looms over Mueller report Pelosi, Dems plot strategy after end of Mueller probe If Mueller's report lacks indictments, collusion is a delusion MORE (D-Calif.) said he and Rep. Trey GowdyHarold (Trey) Watson GowdyTop Republican releases full transcript of Bruce Ohr interview Gowdy calls congressional hearings like Cohen's 'utterly useless' The family secret Bruce Ohr told Rod Rosenstein about Russia case 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 HimesHillicon Valley: Doctors press tech to crack down on anti-vax content | Facebook, Instagram suffer widespread outages | Spotify hits Apple with antitrust complaint | FCC rejects calls to delay 5G auction House Dem introduces bill requiring public firms to disclose cybersecurity expertise in leadership House lawmakers clash over GOP allegations Dems coached Cohen 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 RooneyHill-HarrisX poll: 76 percent oppose Trump pardoning former campaign aides Dems fear Trump is looking at presidential pardons Ex-GOP lawmaker joins family firm  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 RyanFormer Dem candidate says he faced cultural barriers on the campaign trail because he is working-class Former House candidate and ex-ironworker says there is 'buyer's remorse' for Trump in Midwest Head of top hedge fund association to step down 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 ClintonIf Mueller's report lacks indictments, collusion is a delusion Conservatives wage assault on Mueller report The wisdom of Trump's lawyers, and the accountability that must follow Mueller's report 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 ConawayHillicon Valley: Tech tries to stop spread of New Zealand shooting video | Booker says big tech must do more to combat online hate | US allies drawn into Huawei fight | O'Rourke not 'proud' of being in hacking group as teenager Escalating battle with Huawei ensnares US allies Overnight Energy: Solar installations dropped in 2018 | UN report says rising Arctic temperatures 'locked in' | Fiat Chrysler to recall 850K vehicles 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.