Republicans in the Senate — and a Twitter campaign that may have been spurred by Russian bots — are calling for the release of a four-page memo written by Rep. Devin Nunes (R-CA) related to the Russia investigation. Democrats oppose the release. Only some members of the House have seen it. Assistant Attorney General Stephen Boyd warned it would be "extraordinarily reckless" to release it.
What is the Nunes Memo?
So what's in the memo, and why is it so controversial? The memo's thesis is that the Justice Department abused its authority to spy on Trump associates. It focuses on Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein's decision to grant an extension on surveillance of Trump associate Carter Page, Newsweek reports. Nunes argues that the FBI and DOJ sought the warrant based on information in the Christopher Steele dossier, which alleges years of cooperation between Trump and the Russians. But Newsweek points out that warrants are rarely granted on the basis of one piece of information.
Republicans say the memo sticks to the facts, and some who've seen it say it reveals a scandal that's "worse than Watergate." Democrats argue that the memo, written without their input, is politically motivated to discredit special counsel Robert Mueller's investigation into Trump and Russia — and, specifically, to undercut Attorney General Rod Rosenstein, who has refused to fire Mueller. Democrats on the House Intelligence Committee said it's a "misleading set of talking points attacking the FBI." On Monday, Rep. Eric Swalwell, a member of the House Intelligence Committee, is riddled with "deliberate inaccuracies."
Only some members of the House have seen the memo, although the Intelligence Committee has voted to allow all members to see it. Nunes, the chairman of the House Intelligence Committee, has refused to let his counterpart in the Senate, Sen. Richard Burr (R-NC), see the memo. The FBI, DOJ and Trump have not seen the memo either, Newsweek says.
On Monday, Rep. Ted Lieu (D-CA) tweeted, "As a Member of the House Judiciary Committee, I read the partisan, classified Nunes House Intel memo. I can't talk about it. However, here's an analogy. Remember Geraldo Rivera and the infamous Mystery of Al Capone's Vaults? It's like that, but Geraldo Rivera has more integrity."
As a Member of the House Judiciary Committee, I read the partisan, classified Nunes House Intel memo. I can't talk about it. However, here's an analogy.— Ted Lieu (@tedlieu) January 29, 2018
Remember Geraldo Rivera and the infamous Mystery of Al Capone's Vaults? It's like that, but Geraldo Rivera has more integrity.
When will the Nunes Memo be released?
A vote on the release may come as soon as Monday evening. If a majority of the House Intelligence Committee votes to release it, Trump has five days to block it. If he doesn't, its contents will be published. Trump reportedly is not opposed to its release.
Two weeks ago, a Twitter campaign with the hashtag #releasethememo popped up. For a time, it was the top trending hashtag among Russian-linked Twitter accounts, The Hill reported.