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 RyanDebate with Donald Trump? Just say no Ex-Trump adviser says GOP needs a better health-care message for 2020 Liz Cheney faces a big decision on her future 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 McCarthyOn The Money: Treasury rejects Dem subpoena for Trump tax returns | Companies warn trade war about to hit consumers | Congress, White House to launch budget talks next week | Trump gets deal to lift steel tariffs on Mexico, Canada Congressional leaders to launch budget talks with White House RNC chair on Alabama abortion bill: I would have exceptions for rape, incest 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 NunesOvernight Defense: Congressional leaders receive classified briefing on Iran | Trump on war: 'I hope not' | Key Republican calls threats credible | Warren plan targets corporate influence at Pentagon Schiff says DOJ hasn't complied with subpoena for Mueller report Key Republican 'convinced' Iran threats are credible 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 SchiffSchiff: Impeachment proceedings could be 'tool' to get information, evidence Schiff: Escalating Iran tensions 'all too predictable' 5 things to watch as Trump, Dems clash over investigations 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 CollinsThe Hill's Morning Report — Presented by Pass USMCA Coalition — Trump: GOP has `clear contrast' with Dems on immigration Overnight Health Care — Presented by Campaign for Accountability — House passes drug pricing bills amid ObamaCare row | Senate Republicans running away from Alabama abortion law | Ocasio-Cortez confronts CEO over K drug price tag Colorado secretary of state bans employees from traveling to Alabama after abortion law 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 ThuneHillicon Valley: Trump takes flak for not joining anti-extremism pact | Phone carriers largely end sharing of location data | Huawei pushes back on ban | Florida lawmakers demand to learn counties hacked by Russians | Feds bust 0M cybercrime group Senate Commerce chair to renew push for regs on self-driving vehicles Hillicon Valley: Facebook co-founder calls for breaking up company | Facebook pushes back | Experts study 2020 candidates to offset 'deepfake' threat | FCC votes to block China Mobile | Groups, lawmakers accuse Amazon of violating children's privacy 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 SwalwellDe Blasio pitches himself as tough New Yorker who can take on 'Don the con' Momentum builds behind push to pass laws enshrining abortion rights Swalwell pledges to appoint Supreme Court justices who defend Roe v. Wade 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.