The House Intelligence Committee’s top Democrat accused the panel’s chairman of making “material #changes” to a GOP-drafted memo alleging surveillance abuses before sending it to the #White House to approve its public release, a move he charges should prevent President Trump from releasing it.
Rep. Adam B. Schiff (D-Calif.) sent a letter late Wednesday to Chairman Devin Nunes (R-Calif.), accusing him of “deliberately misleading” the committee. Schiff demanded that Nunes withdraw the version he sent to the White House because “there is no longer a valid basis for the White House to review the altered documents” and approve their public release.
Schiff and Nunes have been bitterly divided over the memo, which the House Intelligence Committee voted along party lines Monday to release to the public, provided Trump does not block the move.
Schiff charged that the memo was “secretly altered” after that, and that Democrats were only “belatedly” given a chance Wednesday night to see the altered version that was sent to the White House. He said it included changes that members “were never apprised of, never had the opportunity to review, and never approved.”
A spokesman for the committee’s Republican majority said the changes to the memo were “minor edits,” such as grammatical changes, “and two edits requested by the FBI and by the minority themselves.”
The spokesman defended the memo’s release as “procedurally sound,” adding that “to suggest otherwise is a bizarre distraction from the abuses detailed in the memo.”
A senior Democratic committee official disputed the suggestion that Democrats had asked for any of the changes, describing them as “not cosmetic” but attempts “to water down some of the majority’s assertions.”
“It is clear that the majority is no longer fully comfortable with what it has represented to House members,” the Democratic official said. “The majority has no choice but to restart the process in a transparent manner.”
Trump is widely expected to approve the memo’s release, potentially as early as Thursday, despite the protestations of Democrats and several senior law enforcement officials. He told a lawmaker Tuesday night following his State of the Union address that he plans “100 percent” to release the memo, and his chief of staff, John F. Kelly, said early Wednesday that he expected the memo would be made public “pretty quick.”