Congressional Democrats won’t bypass President Trump and will abide by the process as they try to release their classified memo dealing with the FBI and potential political snooping, a member of the House intelligence committee said Monday.
Rep. Jim Himes, Connecticut Democrat, said their party doesn’t want to create a precedent for turning sensitive classified information into a political battlefield, so Democrats won’t circumvent Mr. Trump.
The memo written by Rep. Adam Schiff of California, the intelligence panel’s top Democrat, was designed to combat the memo released by the committee’s top Republican after Mr. Trump said it didn’t damage national security.
The president late last week sent Mr. Schiff’s memo back for more work, saying it did give away classified details that could harm national security.
“We’re uncomfortable with the establishment of precedent where for political reasons — and this is what happened with the Nunes memo — for political reasons classified information gets out there,” Mr. Himes said on CNN.
Some analysts have wondered whether Democrats would take the memo to the House floor to read the chamber, shielding themselves in the Constitution’s “speech and debate” clause that protects them from repercussions stemming from floor debates.
The dueling memos by Mr. Schiff and Rep. Devin Nunes, California Republican, describe the process the FBI and Justice Department used to obtain a warrant to conduct surveillance on Carter Page, who had been a Trump campaign figure.
Mr. Nunes’ memo revealed that the FBI, in obtaining the warrant, had relied on a highly questionable dossier produced by an British ex-spy, with a Yahoo News article based on the spy’s own information cited as independent corroboration.
Mr. Schiff’s memo reportedly argues that there were other reasons for the warrant beyond the British spy’s information, and that the judges who approved the warrant weren’t kept in the dark on the source of the dossier — the latter being a charge made by Mr. Nunes.
Mr. Trump has accused Democrats of a setup, saying they knew Mr. Schiff’s memo contained classified information that couldn’t be released, making it look like the White House was stonewalling.
By Democrats’ own admission, their 10-page memo — about three times as long as the Republican memo — contains more details and goes through Mr. Nunes’ claims point-by-point in rebuttal.
The White House said that’s why the president sent it back to be reworked.
“The president released the first memo. He declassified it because it did not reveal sources and methods. This report from the Democrats does not keep American lives safe. What it does is reveal serious national security information that could, quite frankly, put our lives as risk and the president is not going to do that,” Hogan Gidley, deputy White House press secretary, said Monday on Fox News Channel.
Mr. Schiff, ranking member of the committee, has acknowledged the additional information.
“We’re going to sit down with the FBI and go through any concerns that they have, and any legitimate concerns over sources and methods, we will redact,” he said on CBS’ “Face the Nation” on Sunday.
Mr. Nunes said Sunday that Republicans do want to see Mr. Schiff’s document put out, because “it’s ridiculous on the face of it.”
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