A top secret memo on alleged surveillance abuses that was made available to the entire House on Thursday is piquing interest of some Republicans in the Senate.
The four-page report, written by the GOP majority in the House Intelligence Committee, has already made waves among dozens of House Republicans demanding its release to the public over concerns about the misuse of Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act by the Obama administration, even as Democrats dismiss its contents as nothing more than "talking points."
The effort by conservatives, boosted online by a hashtag, #ReleaseTheMemo, appears to be gaining momentum as Chairman Devin Nunes, R-Calif., is participating in talks about the process through which it could be unveiled, lawmakers say.
In the meantime, some Republican senators are curious about the memo's contents.
Sen. Rand Paul, R-Ky., made an effort to gain access to the memo, but was rejected, his spokesman, Sergio Gor, confirmed to the Washington Examiner on Saturday.
A member of the Senate's intelligence panel, James Lankford of Oklahoma, also wants to see it.
"Senator Lankford has expressed interest in seeing the memo," Lankford's communications director, D.J. Jordan, told the Washington Examiner in an email on Sunday, adding: "To date, he has not seen the memo yet."
One other member of the upper chamber member, Senate Majority Whip John Cornyn, R-Texas, attempted to view the report, but was blocked. He did, however, receive a briefing on it from Nunes, according to CNN's Manu Raju.
The fate of the memo may be placed on the back burner as Republicans and Democrats in Congress, along with the White House, trade blame for a partial shutdown after the Senate failed to pass a short-term spending bill late Friday and scramble to come to some sort of agreement.
Still, at least 180 of nearly Republicans in the House have viewed the memo in recent days, the Washington Examiner's Byron York reported Sunday morning, signalling widespread interest at a time when the shutdown has taken center stage.
Rep. Dave Joyce, a Republican from Ohio, issued an opaque tweet on Saturday that the House Intelligence Committee "plans to begin the process to release" the report, but cautioned that this process may take up to and beyond 19 congressional work days.
A congressional source told the Washington Examiner that a meeting took place to discuss the process for the memo's release to the public, but cautioned more details need to be ironed out before a final decision is made.
That process, if set in motion, would likely entail another intelligence panel vote. After that, "if the executive branch gives the thumbs up they go public," said Rep. Jim Jordan, R-Ohio, in a recent Fox News interview.
Another congressional source explained that President Trump would have five days to block its release.
A request to a White House spokesperson about Trump's opinion on the memo went unanswered, but the source suggested that if Trump were to block the memo's unveiling to the public, then the entire House could still secure its release through a vote.
The contents of the memo are "alarming," claims Jordan. Other Republicans have used similarly explosive language to describe it, but beyond suggesting the document describes classified information from both the FBI and the Department of Justice, they have been unable to share concrete details due to a waiver they signed.
Unnamed individuals who spoke with the Washington Post said it contains assertions that seek to discredit Fusion GPS, the opposition research firm that hired a ex-British spy Christopher Steele, who is the author of the infamous and largely unverified "Trump dossier." The memo reportedly says the FBI included false claims from Steele about Trump associates' ties to Russia, in an approved application to spy on Trump campaign adviser Carter Page, though current and former law enforcement officials told the Post that much more information was also used to justify the surveillance application.
The top Democrat on the House Intelligence Committee, Adam Schiff, called the memo "a profoundly misleading set of talking points drafted by Republican staff attacking the FBI and its handling of the investigation."
“Rife with factual inaccuracies and referencing highly classified materials that most of Republican Intelligence Committee members were forced to acknowledge they had never read, this is meant only to give Republican House members a distorted view of the FBI," Schiff, D-Calif., in a statement Thursday. All Democratic members of the intelligence committee voted against opening access to the memo to all House members.
Beyond the intelligence panel, there appears to be little to no interest among the rest of the House Democrats.
A third congressional source from the Republican side estimated few, if any, Democrats have bothered to look at the memo when asked by the Washington Examiner.
Despite concerns about FISA from some Republican and Democratic lawmakers regarding privacy protections for U.S. citizens, both chambers voted to reauthorize Section 702, a key counterterrorism surveillance tool, and the bill was signed by Trump on Friday.
That happened after Trump complained earlier in the month: "'House votes on controversial FISA ACT today.' This is the act that may have been used, with the help of the discredited and phony Dossier, to so badly surveil and abuse the Trump Campaign by the previous administration and others?"
He later changed his tune to one that reflected his administration's support for the reauthorization of the measure, and in a tweet Friday claimed "[t]his is NOT the same FISA law that was so wrongly abused during the election. I will always do the right thing for our country and put the safety of the American people first!"