House Intel Committee Could Vote on Releasing FISA Memo Next Week

The FBI building that was allegedly one of the targets of a group of seven individuals, who were arrested yesterday, is seen June 23, 2006 in Miami, Florida. According to reports, the suspected terror group also wanted to target the Sears tower in Chicago. (Photo by Joe Raedle/Getty Images)
Joe Raedle/Getty

The classified House Intelligence Committee could vote on releasing a classified memo detailing FBI abuse related to its investigation of the Trump campaign as early as next week, according to a Republican congressman and two sources.

“That vote could occur as soon as next week,” said Rep. Walter Jones (R-NC) in a statement Wednesday. “Only through transparency and openness can we learn the truth, conduct appropriate oversight, and hold government officials accountable.”

One source said the vote could occur as early as Monday, but the other source said the vote would “likely” be the week after next, since Congress is only in session for three days next week.

Pursuant to House rules, the committee would simply need to take a vote in order to release the classified memo to the public, and since Republicans having an overwhelming majority on the committee, the memo will all but certainly be released. There would be a five-day waiting period for President Trump to object, but he is not expected to object.

The committee can also vote to release supporting classified documents cited in the memo that in the committee’s possession. Any classified documents that still reside with the intelligence community can only be declassified by President Trump.

White House Press Secretary Sarah Sanders on Tuesday indicated that Trump would be in favor of the memo’s release, but said she has not yet spoken to the president about whether he would declassify some of the documents.

“We certainly support full transparency and we believe that that’s at the House Intel Committee to make that decision at this point,” she said during the press briefing.

“It sounds like there are some members in the House that have some real concern with what’s in that memo, and feel very strongly that the American public should be privy to see it.”

The memo is a summary of alleged improper and possibly criminal behavior by senior Obama Justice Department and Federal Bureau of Investigations officials investigating the Trump campaign, uncovered by House investigators during the committee’s Russia probe.

The memo reportedly reveals how those senior officials abused the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) and used the Trump dossier — an unverified and salacious political campaign document funded by the Clinton campaign and the Democratic National Committee — to obtain a warrant to spy on a Trump campaign member in summer 2016.

The memo was produced by House Intelligence Committee staffers after the Justice Department and the FBI finally began handing over or providing access to requested documents late last year. The committee had subpoenaed documents as early as August, but the DOJ and the FBI stonewalled until the committee threatened to hold their leaders in contempt of Congress and House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-WI) intervened.

The unverified dossier was also reportedly one of the pieces of evidence the FBI used to launch its investigation into the Trump campaign, which later became the special counsel probe led by Robert Mueller.

The memo reportedly also shows that dossier author Christopher Steele lied to the FBI, which could explain why Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Chuck Grassley (R-IA) and Subcommittee Chairman Lindsey Graham (R-SC) earlier this month referred Steele for criminal investigation.

More than 200 House members have reportedly seen the memo. House Judiciary Committee members who have oversight of the DOJ and the FBI have been particularly vocal in calling for the memo’s release.

The top Democrat on the House Intelligence Committee Rep. Adam Schiff (D-CA) has attacked his colleagues over the memo, calling it a set of Republican talking points and a distortion of the underlying classified documentation.

House Republicans are also calling for the release of the underlying documentation, to refute Schiff’s accusations.

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