Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer and House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi are pressurizing House Speaker Paul Ryan to remove Rep. Devin Nunes (D-Calif.) as chairman of the House Intelligence Committee. At issue is a four-page memo Nunes prepared relating to the FBI handling of its investigation into supposed Russian meddling in the 2016 presidential election and any purported ties to the Trump campaign. Democrats claim that Nunes illegitimately altered the memo.

On Wednesday, Rep. Adam Schiff (D-Calif.), the ranking Democrat on the House Intelligence Committee, claimed that Nunes made changes to the memo that was released by Republicans to the White House earlier this week. Nunes’ office confirmed that minor changes were made in compliance with requests from the FBI and the Democrats themselves.

Rep. Pelosi wrote, "It has now come to our attention that Congressman Nunes deliberately and materially altered the contents of the memo since it was voted on by the House Republicans. This action is not only dangerous, it is illegitimate, and violates House rules." Writing that Nunes has "disgraced the House Intelligence Committee," Pelosi proclaimed that his "deliberately dishonest actions make him unfit to serve as Chairman," and called for his removal.

"It is long overdue that you, as Speaker, put an end to this charade and hold Congressman Nunes,” Pelosi wrote, “and all Congressional Republicans accountable to the oath they have taken to support and defend the Constitution, and protect the American people." Pelosi added, "The integrity of the House is at stake."

Sen. Schumer wrote to Speaker Ryan to say that the GOP appears to have “decided to sow conspiracy theories" and "attack the integrity and credibility of federal law enforcement as a means" to protect President Donald Trump and assail special counsel Robert Mueller. Schumer’s letter made a serious allegation against the GOP caucus. "Quite simply, under your leadership, dangerous partisanship among many House Republicans seems to have taken precedence over the oath we all take to protect our nation," Schumer wrote. Schumer submitted a series of questions to Ryan, among which were to ascertain whether the Speaker had assisted Nunes in drafting the memorandum in question.

The four-page memo drafted by Nunes and his GOP colleagues reportedly alleges that the Department of Justice and the FBI abused the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act by using an opposition research dossier on Trump and Russia that was prepared at the behest of the Democratic National Committee and the Hillary Clinton campaign in order to obtain a surveillance warrant on former Trump campaign adviser Carter Page. Several Republicans who have seen the memo claim that it shows that senior officials at the FBI and DOJ were politically motivated in their investigations. 

On Monday, Republicans on the House Intelligence Committee voted to make the memo public, subsequently turning it over to the White House, which has five days to keep it secret or publicize it. President Donald Trump has signaled that he is willing to release it.

On Wednesday, the FBI and DOJ object to releasing the memo, voicing "grave concerns about material omissions of fact that fundamentally impact the memo's accuracy." Speaker Ryan appeared to favor transparency. On Tuesday, after the House Intelligence Committee’s vote, Ryan said, "I think disclosure is the way to go. It's the best disinfectant." He added, "And I think we need to disclose, that brings us accountability, that brings us transparency, that helps us clean up any problem we have with DOJ and FBI."

Senate Republican Conference Chairman John Thune (R-S.D.) said on Thursday at the annual GOP retreat in West Virginia that Rep. Nunes should share the memo with Senate Intelligence Committee Chairman Richard Burr (R-NC) before its release to the public. Thune said that Burr has been unable to obtain the document. “I think the Senate Intelligence Committee needs to see it, for sure. Sen. Burr would like to see it and hasn’t been able to yet,” Thune said. He added, “There are important national security considerations they need to weigh, and hopefully they’re doing that.”

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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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