A member of the House Intelligence Committee, after the committee voted on Monday evening to release a classified memorandum drafted by Republicans about the FBI and its investigation into President Donald Trump, announced that the committee will open a new investigation into the conduct of both the Department of Justice and the FBI. Rep. Adam Schiff (D-Calif.), the ranking minority member on the committee, told the media that Democrats on the committee were informed of the new investigations “for the first time” on Monday evening. Also, while Schiff asserted that Democrats have a document to rebut the Republicans' memo, they have not released it.

According to Ty Cobb -- a member of President Trump's legal team -- the White House has five days to review the GOP memo.

According to committee rules, the Republican majority has to consult with the Democrat minority before opening an investigation. However, Schiff claimed that the Republicans did not do so. “We learned about that for the first time here today,” Schiff said. “Now it has been publicly reported from time to time that there was a subset of the majority working on some kind of an investigation or inquiry into the Department of Justice and FBI, but apparently [Chairman Devin Nunes, R-Calif.] made it formal today, according to the majority, the FBI’s under investigation and so is the Department of Justice.”

Schiff slammed the investigations “a wholesale broadside” against DOJ and FBI. He claimed that Republicans had crossed a line with the partisan vote, accusing Republicans of politicizing the executive branch’s investigatory powers.

According to Nunes’ office, Nunes made the investigation public “months ago” in a Fox News interview. In August, the committee issued subpoenas to the Justice Department and FBI for documents relating to the uncorroborated dossier linking President Donald Trump to Russia were a “strong sign” of the inquiry into the Justice Department and FBI. 

Last week, a top DOJ official called on Nunes not to release the memo, claiming that it would be “extraordinarily reckless” and could harm national security and ongoing investigations. The memo has been described by Republican legislators as “shocking,” “troubling” and “alarming,” and even likened it to KGN tactics. According to reports, members of Congress who have seen the classified memo suggest that it reveals the role played by the anti-Trump dossier in the Obama administration's petition for a surveillance warrant on at least one Trump associate.

Schiff said, “Today this committee voted to put the president’s personal interests, perhaps their own political interests, above the national interests,” the Democrat said on the day that FBI Deputy Director Andrew McCabe left his post. While the White House has not declared when it might release the memo, it appears to favor the release. On Monday, White House press secretary Sarah Sanders said, “We want full transparency,” and added, “That's what we have said all along.”

In December, POLITICO reported that Republican members of the Intelligence Committee had met privately to investigate the handling of the dossier by DOJ and FBI. They hope to release their conclusions soon. 

Also, Schiff denied on Monday that he aware of any “interference in the investigative process” on the part of the FBI of Justice Department in the surveillance on the Trump political organization.

The exact details of the memo drafted by the Republicans remain unclear but may soon be available for public view if the executive branch agrees to the Intelligence Committee’s recommendation to release it. The Democrats have prepared their own classified memorandum, which Schiff moved to release. However, he said that Republicans objected and instead voted just to release theirs. The panel voted without controversy to allow House members to read the minority memo. 

Where is the Democrats' memo?

In a tweet he issued on Monday, Rep. Lee Zeldin (R-NY) -- who sits on the House Foreign Affairs Committee -- asserted that he is not aware that the Democrats have prepared a document rebutting the Republicans' memo. He tweeted that he is not aware that such a memo has been shown to other members of the House. In an op-ed at American Military News, he calle for the release of the document. The former Army intelligence operative and JAG officer wrote on Monday:  

"Americans have the right to know, and if we, as their elected representatives, fail to stand up for them, who will? The significant power assumed in the ability to collect intelligence and Americans’ most intimate data, warrants an equal amount of oversight to ensure its proper usage. The only way forward is to allow the American people to decide for themselves whether the methods enclosed in this classified document were justified."

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Spero News editor Martin Barillas is a former US diplomat, who also worked as a democracy advocate and election observer in Latin America. His first novel 'Shaken Earth', is available at Amazon.

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