Democrats on the House Intelligence Committee blasted their Republican counterparts on Friday for releasing a controversial memo detailing alleged abuses of a government surveillance program, and called it a “shameful effort to discredit” the FBI and Justice Department.
“The selective release and politicization of classified information sets a terrible precedent and will do long-term damage to the Intelligence Community and our law enforcement agencies,” Intelligence Committee Democrats said Friday. “If potential intelligence sources know that their identities might be compromised when political winds arise, those sources of vital information will simply dry up, at great cost to our national security.”
They also said the memo “mischaracterizes highly sensitive highly classified information” in an effort to protect President Trump.
The House Intelligence Committee voted along party lines Monday to release the controversial memo, compiled by committee Chairman Devin Nunes, R-Calif., and GOP staff. The president declassified the four-page document Friday and it was released shortly thereafter.
The memo details how officials within the FBI and Justice Department used information contained in the unverified dossier compiled by Christopher Steele, a former British intelligence officer, to obtain and renew a FISA warrant to spy on Carter Page, a Trump campaign adviser.
The dossier was funded, in part, by the Democratic National Committee and Hillary Clinton’s presidential campaign, information the FBI and Justice Department omitted from its application to surveil Page, according to the memo.
Democrats on the House Intelligence Committee rejected the information contained in the document, and noted the FBI’s investigation into the Trump campaign did not begin with Steele’s dossier, as some Democrats have claimed. Instead, the probe’s origins can be traced back to George Papadopoulos, a Trump campaign foreign policy adviser.
“The sole purpose of the Republican document is to circle the wagons around the White House and insulate the president,” the Democratic lawmakers said.
“The authors of the GOP memo would like the country to believe that the investigation began with Christopher Steele and the dossier, and if they can just discredit Mr. Steele, they can make the whole investigation go away regardless of the Russians’ interference in our election or the role of the Trump campaign in that interference,” they continued.
The Democrats on the House Intelligence Committee have drafted their own memo, which they said refutes the information contained in Nunes’ document.
“Chairman Nunes’ decision, supported by House Speaker Ryan and Republican Members of the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence, to publicly release misleading allegations against the Department of Justice and Federal Bureau of Investigation is a shameful effort to discredit these institutions, undermine the Special Counsel’s ongoing investigation, and undercut congressional probes,” they said “Furthermore, their refusal to allow release of a comprehensive response memorandum prepared by Committee Democrats is a transparent effort to suppress the full truth.”