A group of 65 Republican lawmakers are calling on the chairman of the House Intelligence Committee for the “immediate” public release of a memo alleging widespread surveillance warrant abuses by the Justice Department and FBI.
“After reading the document, we were shocked and frustrated, but it has deepened our belief in the vital importance of transparency,” Florida Rep. Matt Gaetz said in the letter, which was sent Friday night to California Rep. Devin Nunes, the chairman of the Intelligence Committee.
“We are writing to request the immediate release of this document to the public,” added Gaetz.
“The audience of this document should not be limited to Members of Congress — the American people deserve to know the information it contains.”
On Thursday, the Intelligence Committee voted along party lines — Republicans supported and Democrats opposed — to release a four-page memo alleging abuses of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act under the Obama administration.
As of Friday afternoon, 129 members of Congress who are not on the House Intelligence Committee had visited a classified facility to view the document. A congressional source familiar with the situation told The Daily Caller that all members who reviewed the memo are Republicans.
“Not a single Democrat,” said the source, who spoke on the condition of anonymity.
It is not entirely clear what the memo alleges. While Republicans have called for the release of the document, they are prohibited from discussing specific details because it contains classified information. But it is believed that the memo touches on the FBI and Justice Department’s use of surveillance warrants related to the Steele dossier and to the unmasking of Trump associates in intelligence reports by the Obama administration.
“What I read, every single American needs to read. Every single American needs to know what the FBI did, and what they did should never happen in this country,” Ohio Rep. Jim Jordan told TheDC on Thursday.
“I could not be more concerned,” added the Republican, who was one of the signatories on Gaetz’s letter.
Notably, no Republicans from the House Intelligence Committee signed on to the letter.
Democrats were largely silent on the memo given that so few have seen it. But California Rep. Adam Schiff, the top Democrat on the House Intelligence panel, called the document “a profoundly misleading set of talking points drafted by Republican staff attacking the FBI and its handling of the investigation.”
Schiff voted against the memo’s release during a closed-door business meeting on Thursday.
Democrats claimed that the memo was put together unilaterally by Republican staff on the Intelligence Committee.
“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,” Schiff added.
“This may help carry White House water, but it is a deep disservice to our law enforcement professionals.”
The partisan drama left observers itching for additional details. The Twitter hashtag #ReleaseTheMemo began trending on the social media site during the day. Some left-leaning news outlets pointed out that the hashtag went viral with the help of Russian bots and trolls.
One Republican source familiar with the memo acknowledged that GOP lawmakers have made aggressive claims about its contents. But the source said that their claims are not off base.
“I know there’s a feeding frenzy on this story right now on the Right, but it’s pretty bad,” the source said.