WASHINGTON: The Intelligence Committee of the US House of Representatives has voted unanimously to release a memo authored by its Democrat members that were written in response to a similar document from Republicans that accused the Federal Beaurue of Investigation (FBI) and Justice Department of being biased against the White House.
Representative Adam Schiff, a Democrat, told reporters on February 5 that the vote means the document will be sent to the White House and that it would be “very hard” for President Donald Trump administration to block its release.
The president will have five days to decide whether to block the release of the classified document.
Trump has claimed that the Republican memo, which alleges the FBI abused its surveillance powers during an investigation of his presidential election campaign’s possible ties to Russia, completely vindicates him.
But the memo also includes revelations that could complicate any attempt by Trump and his allies to undermine Justice Department Special Counsel Robert Mueller, who is investigating the Kremlin’s alleged meddling in the 2016 presidential election.
The memo released on February 2 contends that the FBI when it applied for a surveillance warrant on a onetime Trump campaign associate, relied excessively on an ex-British spy whose opposition research was funded by Democrats.
But the memo also calls that source a “longtime FBI source” with a credible track record.
It also confirms that the investigation actually began several months earlier and was “triggered” by information involving a different campaign aide.
The FBI on January 31 took the unusual step of publicly opposing the release of the memo, saying it demonstrated “material omissions of fact that fundamentally impact the memo’s accuracy.”
Democrats say the memo is a selectively edited set of Republican talking points aimed at distracting attention from the committee’s own investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election.
Senior Democrats in Congress have warned that Trump could trigger a “constitutional crisis” if he uses the memo as a pretext to fire Mueller.