Despite a prior warning from the Department of Justice that doing so would be “extraordinarily reckless,” a classified memo put together by Republicans on the House Intelligence Committee could become released to the public by week’s end.
By invoking an obscure congressional rule Monday night, the GOP lawmakers on the panel were able to vote — along party lines — to release the GOP-gathered memo despite objections from the Democratic minority.
Now, the decision is in President Trump’s hands, who now has a maximum of four days to explicitly object to the memo’s release.
Despite signals from the White House that they are for “full transparency” on the memo, the Justice Department and FBI still have time to lobby the president against its release.
Should Trump object to its release, the full House can override his decision and make the memo public. Trump can also release the memo on his own between now and the five-day deadline, which began Monday night after the committee's vote.
The four-page memo, spearheaded by Chairman Devin Nunes, R-Calif., reportedly details alleged surveillance abuses by the Justice Department and FBI, and also names Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein, former FBI deputy director Andrew McCabe, and former FBI Director James Comey.
The memo reportedly alleges that senior Justice Department and FBI officials abused the process of obtaining a warrant under FISA, the classified surveillance program, specifically that of former Trump campaign aide Carter Page in early 2017.
Assistant Attorney General Stephen Boyd wrote to Congress last week, warning lawmakers releasing the memo without giving the Justice Department and the FBI an opportunity to review it “would be extraordinarily reckless.”
FBI Director Christopher Wray has viewed the memo since that letter, though it is unclear if any top Justice Department officials have — but a Justice Department spokesperson told the Washington Examiner early Tuesday the department has “nothing new" to say.
White House deputy press secretary Hogan Gidley told CNN late Monday the memo had arrived at the White House, and Trump would meet with his security and legal advisers before making a decision.
“Sadly, we expect that the president of the United States will not put the national interest over his own personal interest,” Rep. Adam Schiff, the committee’s top Democrat, said Monday night after the vote. “But it is a sad day indeed when that is also true of our own committee.”
Schiff revealed a series of blocks by the Republican majority, including a motion to make the Democratic memo countering the Republican version public as well. That was voted down, he said, though the committee did agree to make it public for the full House to view.
Schiff also said his concerns with the memo were not alleviated just because Wray reviewed the memo.
On MSNBC late Monday night, Schiff said the GOP lawmakers on House Intelligence voted to release the memo in an effort to undermine special counsel Robert Mueller.
Mueller has been tasked with investigating Russian meddling in the 2016 presidential election and possible collusion with the Trump campaign.
The Washington Post reported Monday Trump could use the memo as a basis for firing or forcing Rosenstein to leave. Rosenstein, who appointed Mueller, is the only one with constitutional power to remove him.