WASHINGTON – The House Intelligence Committee voted unanimously on Monday to authorize the release of a report by the panel’s Democratic minority on the FBI investigation into alleged Russian meddling in the 2016 US presidential election.
President Donald Trump, who last week declassified a memo drafted by the Republicans on the committee, will now have to decide whether the Democratic response can be published.
Starting Monday, the White House – that is to say, Trump – has five days to review the text of the Democratic memo and decide if the current version will be released.
The Republicans’ original report – drafted by committee chairman and Trump ally Congressman Devin Nunes and his staff – denounces alleged abuses in the FBI’s procedure for monitoring the communications of Carter Page, who in 2016 was a campaign adviser for the mogul.
However, Democrats on the House Intelligence Committee claim that Nunes’ four-page memo is designed to undermine the investigation headed by Robert Mueller into possible coordination between the Kremlin and Trump’s campaign to influence the 2016 election.
Therefore, they have insisted on the publication of their own version of the situation, something that conservatives blocked last week.
The Republicans on the committee who have seen the Democrats’ memo – said to have been drafted largely by the ranking Democrat on the committee, Adam Schiff – say that it is a very detailed document that should be edited prior to public release.
House Speaker Paul Ryan, a Republican, has also alluded to the need to protect intelligence sources and methods in offering his qualified support to releasing the Democrats’ memo.
If Trump decides not to release the memo, the House could vote to overturn that decision, although it would require a two-thirds vote to do so.