After nearly two weeks of secrecy and controversy, the House Intelligence Committee voted Monday evening to release a classified Congressional memo that has been alleged to reveal “shocking” and “troubling” government surveillance abuses. News of the memo’s existence was made public in mid-January when it was reviewed by members of the House Intelligence Committee, who claimed that the secretive four-page document contained descriptions of FISA, or the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act, abuse more akin to the Russian KGB than what would be expected in the United States.
“It’s troubling. It is shocking. Part of me wishes that I didn’t read it because I don’t want to believe that those kinds of things could be happening in this country that I call home and love so much.”
As Fox News reported, the controversial memo was released to all House members after the approval of a motion introduced by New York Representative Pete King on January 18. The approval was granted with a vote split along party lines, with Democratic legislators voting against the memo’s release. Since, GOP lawmakers, led by House Intelligence Chairman Devin Nunes, have clamored for the secretive memo to be made public, suggesting that it could reveal to the American people staggering intelligence-gathering and surveillance abuses related to the Trump Russian collusion investigation.
According to several Republican lawmakers, the memo could also address the issue of the controversial and now infamous anti-Trump “dossier,” which may have been used in the process of obtaining a surveillance warrant against an associate of the POTUS. Since its existence was revealed, the dossier was reportedly paid for, at least in part, by the Clinton campaign and other Democrats during the 2016 presidential campaign.
Just last week, a top official with the U.S. Department of Justice called on Congress not to release the secret memo, claiming that doing so could potentially damage national security and “ongoing investigations,” as well as be extraordinarily dangerous.”
Despite the Justice Department’s stern warning against releasing the memo to the public, Fox News reported that the House Intelligence Committee, which boasts a GOP majority, voted to do just that. The vote was announced to the media by Representative Adam Schiff, a Democratic lawmaker from California and the senior Democrat on the House Intelligence committee. According to Schiff, the decision to release the memo was made along party lines, something he called “a very sad day, I think, in the history of this committee.”
“Today this committee voted to put the president’s personal interests, perhaps their own political interests, above the national interests.”
Donald Trump now has up to five days to intervene before the infamous memo can be made available to the public. It is unknown whether or not the POTUS will attempt to curtail the release of the memo, which members of the House Intelligence Committee have alluded could be beneficial to the Trump cause. However, earlier on Monday, White House press secretary Sarah Sanders indicated that the White House supports the release of the Memo.
“We want full transparency. That’s what we have said all along.”
Monday’s vote took place roughly 24 hours before Donald Trump is scheduled to give his first State of the Union address.
In a previous statement, Republican Florida Representative Matt Gaetz predicted that people may lose their jobs in and around Capitol Hill should the memo be released to the public. Ironically, Monday’s party-line vote to release the memo came just hours after FBI deputy director Andrew McCabe announced he was stepping down from his position. It is unknown if there is any connection between the McCabe announcement and the decision to release the memo.
It is unknown what impact, if any, the release of the controversial memo could have on the ongoing investigation into potential collusion between the Trump campaign and Russia. Congressional Democrats have, however, expressed concern that releasing the memo could compromise national security for no other reason than to be “good for the president.”