Republicans Authorize Sharing of Classified
Report on FBI, DOJ officials' Conduct
By KYLE CHENEY
January 20, 2018 "Information Clearing House" - Republicans on the House Intelligence Committee have authorized their colleagues to access a highly classified report that they say details their concerns with the conduct of top FBI and Justice Department officials, as well as the agencies’ handling of a controversial surveillance program.
“We have concerns — FISA concerns — that all members of the body should know,” said Rep. Mike Conaway (R-Texas), a member of the committee, referring to the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act. Some of President Donald Trump’s allies in the House have argued that the program was inappropriately used to surveil a foreign policy aide to the Trump campaign.
Democrats derided the release of the report as part of an attempt to discredit senior leaders of the agencies leading investigations into President Donald Trump’s ties to Russia and whether any of his associates aided Russia’s attempt to influence the 2016 election.
“[T]he Majority voted today on a party-line basis to grant House Members access to a profoundly misleading set of talking points drafted by Republican staff attacking the FBI and its handling of the investigation,” Rep. Adam Schiff, the committee’s top Democrat, said in a statement. “Rife with factual inaccuracies and referencing highly classified materials that most of Republican Intelligence Committee members were forced to acknowledge they had never read, this is meant only to give Republican House members a distorted view of the FBI.”
“This may help carry White House water, but it is a deep disservice to our law enforcement professionals,” he added.
Conaway noted that the classified report would probably remain off-limits to the public, though all members of the House are permitted to view it. But by releasing it to other House members, it gave Trump allies outside the Intelligence Committee a chance to batter FBI leadership and underscore complaints they’ve raised about the agency’s handling of its investigation of Trump associates’ contacts with Russia. Throughout the day Thursday, a handful of Trump’s top House allies began calling for the immediate public release of the report.
Rep. Matt Gaetz (R-Fla.) said the report must be released to “preserve our democracy.” Another conservative ally, Rep. Ron DeSantis (R-Fla.), called the report “deeply troubling” and said the Intelligence Committee should dust off a little-used process to reveal classified information publicly in order to show the public. Rep. Lee Zeldin (R-N.Y.) said the report would reveal “FISA abuse.”
“Releasing this classified information will not compromise good sources and methods,” Zeldin said in a statement. “It will, however, reveal the feds’ reliance on bad sources and methods.”
Never Miss Another Story
source familiar with discussions between the
leader of the Freedom Caucus, Rep. Mark
Meadows (R-N.C.), and House leadership —
amid high-stakes negotiations over the
government spending bill — said Meadows
asked Speaker Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) explicitly
to authorize a vote on releasing the report.
The source said Ryan deferred to the House
Intelligence Committee chairman, Rep. Devin
Nunes (R-Calif.), who has authority over
whether to start the process on releasing
Meadows, taking to the House floor late Thursday, said he was “shocked” by the contents of the report.
“It is time that we become transparent on all of this,” he said. “And I am calling on our leadership to make this available so that all Americans can judge for themselves.”
Conaway, though, told reporters he’d counsel his colleagues against revealing classified material.
“That’d be real dangerous,” he said, suggesting that a version of the committee’s findings could be made public without getting into the specifics of what drove Republicans’ decision to share the report with colleagues.
Another member of the Intelligence Committee, Rep. Chris Stewart (R-Utah), said he would like to release an unclassified version of the report “scrubbed” to protect classified information. He said that in addition to questions about FISA, the report would highlight concerns among Republicans about “the judgment of some members of the FBI or some members of the Department of Justice.”
The report appears to be the result of an inquiry by a subset of Republican members of the House Intelligence Committee, the details of which were revealed last month. That investigation, led by Nunes, focused on what some Republicans on the panel have come to view as abuses of the FISA process by senior FBI and DOJ officials, as well as the handling of a disputed Trump-Russia dossier by intelligence and law enforcement officials.
This article was originally published by Politico -
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