Republican lawmakers are calling for the public release of a memo they say contains revelations about U.S. government surveillance abuses after the report was made available to all members of the House.
The House Intelligence Committee on Thursday approved, by a party-line vote, to make the four-page memo available to all members of the lower chamber. Reports have suggested the memo could contain answers to the question of whether the FBI and Justice Department used the infamous "Trump dossier" to abuse the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act.
The dossier, which was published in full by BuzzFeed in January of last year, contains a number of salacious and unverified claims about President Trump's ties to Russia, possibly opening him up to blackmail.
Several Republicans, unable to say more about the memo, have rallied for its release to the general public, in some cases using a "ReleaseTheMemo" hashtag on social media.
Rep. Steve King, R-Iowa, said he read the memo and implied there was some sort of bias in favor of Trump's 2016 Democratic opponent Hillary Clinton.
"I have read the memo," he tweeted. "The sickening reality has set in. I no longer hold out hope there is an innocent explanation for the information the public has seen. I have long said it is worse than Watergate. It was #neverTrump & #alwaysHillary. #releasethememo."
“You think about, ‘Is this happening in America or is this the KGB?’ That's how alarming it is,” Rep. Scott Perry, R-Pa., said, according to Fox News.
Rep. Matt Gaetz, R-Fla., called for the public release of the memo's information "to preserve our democracy."
“The House must immediately make public the memo prepared by the Intelligence Committee regarding the FBI and the Department of Justice," Gaetz said in a statement. "The facts contained in this memo are jaw-dropping and demand full transparency. There is no higher priority than the release of this information to preserve our democracy."
Gaetz, who has previously called for the removal of special counsel Robert Mueller, said there could be "major changes" for people working in the DOJ and FBI as a result of the memo's release.
On Fox News Gaetz went further, saying he believes people could "go to jail" due to the contents of the memo and the Mueller-led investigation, which is examining possible collusion between the Trump campaign and the Kremlin, is "a lie built on corruption." He also said it became clear to him why Sen. Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa, chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee, and Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., recommended the Justice Department criminally investigate the author of the Trump dossier, former British spy Christopher Steele.
Ohio Rep. Jim Jordan and North Carolina Rep. Mark Meadows called the memo "alarming" and "shocking," respectively.
“Part of me wishes that I didn't read it, because I don’t want to believe that those kinds of things could be happening in this country that I call home and love so much," Meadows added.
The Washington Examiner's Byron York reported Thursday that no copies of the report were handed out to House members, but rather a copy would be made available for them to read in a secure room in the Capitol.
Members are not allowed to take the report out of the room.
Jordan explained on Fox News the process for releasing the memo.
"Here is the process: Chairman [Devin] Nunes in the Intelligence Committee in the House he can he bring the committee back together. They can have a vote. If the majority of the committee votes to release these documents, the executive branch gets a certain amount of time to review them. If the executive branch gives the thumbs up they go public," he told Fox News' Sean Hannity. "This could happen real quick. Chairman Nunes is committed to getting this information to the public."
Meadows asked House Speaker Paul Ryan, R-Wis., to authorize a vote on releasing the memo, and Ryan chose to defer to Nunes to decide, Politico reported Thursday.
The top Democrat on the House Intelligence Committee, Adam Schiff, called the memo a "profoundly misleading set of talking points."
“[T]he Majority voted today on a party-line basis to grant House Members access to a profoundly misleading set of talking points drafted by Republican staff attacking the FBI and its handling of the investigation,” Schiff, D-Calif., in a statement. “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.”
“This may help carry White House water, but it is a deep disservice to our law enforcement professionals,” he continued.
Meanwhile, WikiLeaks, a government secrets-leaking organization that published hacked emails from Democratic officials during the 2016 campaign, is actively seeking information on anyone who has access to the memo.
The memo's internal release to House members came after the Senate barely followed the House on Tuesday in voting to reauthorize for six years Section 702 of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act, a key counterterrorism surveillance tool.
Trump supporters, like Hannity, have long made the case that the Obama administration used FISA warrants to spy on both the Trump campaign and transition team, though Obama officials deny these claims. Last week, before the FISA reauthorization bill's passage in Congress, Trump claimed in a tweet the Obama administration used the controversial surveillance tool to justify the "unmasking" of members of his campaign who were caught up in the surveillance of foreign nationals. However, Trump backed off his critique of the surveillance law in a tweet later that morning, one that reflected his administration's support for the reauthorization of the measure.