Democrats step up demands for release of their own memo

House Intelligence Committee Democrats are pushing for a vote as soon as Monday to release their own classified memo countering a four-page Republican document that was released Friday afternoon.

The White House has signaled that it is open to allowing the release of the Democratic memo, as have some committee Republicans and Speaker Paul RyanPaul Davis RyanDemocrats hit Scalia over LGBTQ rights Three-way clash set to dominate Democratic debate Krystal Ball touts Sanders odds in Texas MORE (R-Wis.).

But it remains to be seen how much of the document will be allowed to be made public. Committee Republicans who have seen the Democratic memo have said it is highly detailed and would need to be heavily redacted before release, and both the White House and Ryan alluded to the need to protect intelligence sources and methods. 

“If it is scrubbed to ensure it does not reveal sources and methods of our intelligence gathering, the speaker supports the release of the Democrats' memo,” AshLee Strong, a spokeswoman for Ryan, said in a statement.

A spokesman for the House Intelligence Committee did not respond to a request for comment. 

It remains unclear whether the Republican-led panel will allow a vote to release the second document on Monday — or if such a vote would be successful.

House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthyKevin Owen McCarthyClarence Thomas, Joe Manchin, Rudy Giuliani among guests at second state visit under Trump Hillicon Valley: Lawmakers say Zuckerberg to 'cooperate' on antitrust probes | Dems see victory after McConnell backs election security funds | Twitter takes down fake pro-Saudi accounts Lawmakers say Zuckerberg has agreed to 'cooperate' with antitrust probe MORE (R-Calif.) in a statement Friday indicated the Democratic memo will be released.

"As the committee prepares for the release of the minority memo, we must recommit that despite political differences, our single greatest responsibility is to protect the American people. Our law enforcement agencies do that dutifully every day, and this oversight work ensures they will be able to continue to do that every day moving forward."

The Democratic memo was crafted to rebut what the minority sees as misleading and inaccurate claims in the GOP memo, crafted by staff for Chairman Devin NunesDevin Gerald NunesWe've lost sight of the real scandal Twitter won't disclose who's running parody accounts being sued by Devin Nunes Nunes campaign drops lawsuit against constituents who accused him of being a 'fake farmer' MORE (R-Calif.). That document, which was declassified and made public on Friday, lays out a series of allegations of anti-Trump bias at the Justice Department. 

Among other allegations, it accuses senior officials of inappropriately using a piece of opposition research into Trump during the presidential race to obtain a surveillance warrant on Carter Page, who had been a foreign policy adviser to the Trump campaign. 

Nunes and other Republicans have defended the memo as an important effort at transparency. “The Committee has discovered serious violations of the public trust, and the American people have a right to know when officials in crucial institutions are abusing their authority for political purposes," Nunes said in a statement.  

The document does not specify any particular criminal statutes that may have been violated, and Democrats say it cherry-picks from the underlying intelligence in order “to circle the wagons around the White House and insulate the President.” 

“As the Minority memo makes clear, none of this is true,” Democrats said in a joint statement about the GOP memo. “The FBI had good reason to be concerned about Carter Page and would have been derelict in its responsibility to protect the country had it not sought a FISA warrant.” 

A Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) warrant is issued by a clandestine court and allows the government to surveil specified targets.

The panel voted on Monday to make the Nunes memo public, but voted down a slate of motions by ranking member Adam SchiffAdam Bennett SchiffPelosi: Whistleblower complaint 'must be addressed immediately' White House officials, Giuliani come to Trump's defense on Ukraine allegations Sunday shows - Trump's Ukraine call, Iran dominate MORE (D-Calif.) designed to ensure the release of the minority's memo concurrently. The committee did vote to make the Democratic memo available to the entire House, as it had previously done with the Nunes memo. Republicans say they are merely requiring the Democratic memo to go through the same process that the Nunes memo did. 

But the move concerned even some Republicans. Sen. Susan CollinsSusan Margaret CollinsTrump judicial picks face rare GOP opposition GOP signals unease with Barr's gun plan Sinema touts bipartisan record as Arizona Democrats plan censure vote MORE (R-Maine), who sits on the Senate Intelligence Committee, on Friday noted that when that committee released its controversial report on enhanced interrogation — the so-called torture report — the panel voted simultaneously to release a rebuttal from the CIA and minority views.

“This model of bipartisanship and careful vetting would have been a far better way to proceed,” she said in a statement.

Collins also noted that despite “serious and genuine concerns” raised by the Justice Department and the FBI about the national security implications of releasing the GOP memo, “it does not appear that any redactions or revisions were made to satisfy these legitimate concerns.”

FISA warrants are so highly classified that even the existence of a given warrant is supposed to be kept a secret. Exposing the existence of the Page warrant was by any standard an extraordinary move, surveillance experts note.

Senate Republican Conference Chairman John ThuneJohn Randolph ThuneThe Hill's Morning Report - Pompeo condemns Iran for 'act of war' while Trump moves with caution Hillicon Valley: Zuckerberg to meet with lawmakers | Big tech defends efforts against online extremism | Trump attends secretive Silicon Valley fundraiser | Omar urges Twitter to take action against Trump tweet NRA says Trump administration memo a 'non-starter' MORE (R-S.D.) also cautioned the House committee that it should make the Democratic document public if it released the Nunes memorandum. 

"If you're going to release one, I think you have to release the other," he told reporters Thursday.

Because their document remains classified, Democrats are blocked from discussing the details of their own dissent. But the memo “rebuts the Nunes memo point-by-point,” according to Rep. Eric SwalwellEric Michael SwalwellMarkey fundraises ahead of Kennedy primary challenge The Hill's Campaign Report: De Blasio drops out | Warren gains support from black voters | Sanders retools campaign team | Warning signs for Tillis in NC Swalwell to DNI: 'You do not have to be a part of a lawless administration' MORE (D-Calif.), as well as provides “new, unseen evidence that bolsters the FBI's credibility and the seriousness of the Russia investigation.” 

In a lengthy statement released Friday, the Democrats on the Intelligence Committee described many of the assertions in the Nunes memo as inaccurate or lacking important context. 

According to the Nunes memo, information from the so-called Steele dossier was "essential" to the acquisition of surveillance warrants on Page. It says the application "cited extensively" a 2016 Yahoo News article focused on a trip that Page made to Moscow that year, but "incorrectly assesses" that the author of the dossier, Christopher Steele, was not the source of the story, according to the memo. But “this is not at all why the article was referenced,” Democrats say.

The memo alleges that the political origins of the dossier — partially paid for by Hillary Clinton and the Democratic National Committee (DNC) — were not disclosed to the clandestine court that signed off on the warrant request. This is “not accurate,” Democrats say.

“These are but a few of the serious mischaracterizations of the FISA application. There are many more set out in the Democratic response, which we will again be seeking a vote to release publicly on Monday,” Democrats said, noting that they would seek the input of the relevant agencies to process any redactions necessary to protect sources and methods.

Surveillance experts have long claimed that the accuracy of the Republican memo's allegations will be virtually impossible to assess without seeing the warrant application for Page.

Only a handful of lawmakers on the committee had seen intelligence backing up the memo when the panel voted on Monday to release it.

Nunes himself has apparently not viewed the underlying information.

Updated at 4:59 p.m.