Members of the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence near the end of five hours of questioning of FBI Director James Comey and National Security Agency Director Adm. Michael Rogers on allegations of Russian interference in the 2016 U.S. presidential election, on Capitol Hill in Washington, Monday, March 20, 2017. From left on bottom row, Rep. Rick Crawford, R-Ark., Rep. Trey Gowdy, R-S.C., Rep. Elise Stefanik, R-N.Y., and from left on top row, Rep. Jim Himes, D-Conn., Rep. Adam Schiff, D-Calif., the ranking member, and Chairman Rep. Devin Nunes, R-Calif. (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite)

 

The House Intelligence Committee voted to #ReleaseTheMemo. At the same time they voted against releasing the “counter memo” authored by Adam Schiff because of fear it would reveal classified information but did vote to make Schiff’s memo available to the whole House. I imagine that vote was based on their knowledge that Adam Schiff is a perennial leaker of classified information to Manu Raju at CNN and other #Resistance reporters. Of course it could be because, like Russian collusion with the Trump campaign, there is actually no evidence it even exists.

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Now the ball is in the White House’s court. It has five days to decline permission to declassify the information. Then the House will meet as a body and vote on release despite disapproval by the president. That doesn’t seem to be a huge risk, though:

But the White House has signaled support for the document’s release and is widely expected to defy the DOJ in allowing the publication to go forward. The DOJ has opposed the release of the document, reportedly infuriating President Trump.

It’s unclear how much input the DOJ will have prior to the publication of the memo. Typically, when sensitive documents are declassified, the agencies with equities in the intelligence weigh in to assess whether its release would damage national security.

Releasing the memo without allowing them to review it on those grounds, Assistant Attorney General Stephen Boyd wrote to Nunes, would be “extraordinarily reckless.”

But the committee initially stonewalled the DOJ from viewing the document because, as one committee member put it last week, “They’re the ones that have the problem.”

On Monday morning, deputy press secretary Raj Shah hinted on CNN that the DOJ would also not have an opportunity to review the document during the White House pre-release review.

“The Department of Justice doesn’t have a role in this process,” he told CNN.

Factually, that isn’t how any of this works and Raj Shah is exactly right. Congress isn’t “defying” the Justice Department because Justice was created by Congress and does not exist at the same organizational level as Congress. If Justice has a role, that will be up to the White House to decide but, given the way Justice and the FBI have set out to damage Trump, it would not be surprising if they were shut out.

This memo release is a huge step forward and I hope Nunes starts declassifying more information on the alleged Russian collusion. The investigation has been going on,in one form or another, for thirteen months. It is getting harder and harder to impute any honest motive to the way feet are being dragged and easier to see the intent is to hold out until October and drop the results, results that will be couched in the most negative possible way, just in time for the mid-term elections.