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The House Intelligence Committee just voted to release a memo drafted by Chairman Devin Nunes and other Republicans which discusses alleged misconduct by the FBI in the Trump-Russia investigation. Democrats on the committee claim that this memo is misleading, and they drafted their own memo which was based on the same intelligence that the Nunes memo was based on, except they claim their memo paints a more accurate picture of what the intelligence actually says.

Republicans on the House Intelligence Committee voted to release the Nunes memo, but voted against releasing the Democratic memo. My question is, have Chairman Nunes or any other Republicans on the committee publicly discussed why they voted against releasing the Democratic memo?

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You wrote:

The House Intelligence Committee just voted to release a memo drafted by Chairman Devin Nunes and other Republicans which discusses alleged misconduct by the FBI in the Trump-Russia investigation.

All media reports I've seen claim the memo was drafted by Devin Nunes and committee staff.

Also, here's how Reuters characterizes the memo:

Two sources familiar with the memo said it accuses the FBI and the Justice Department of abusing their authority in asking a Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court judge to approve a request to extend an eavesdropping operation on Carter Page, an adviser to Trump’s 2016 campaign.

The memo charges that the FBI and the Justice Department based the request on a dossier compiled by a former British spy hired to dig up negative information on Trump by a research firm partially financed by the Democratic National Committee and Hillary Clinton’s presidential campaign.

source: Reuters

You wrote:

Democrats on the committee claim that this memo is misleading, and they drafted their own memo which was based on the same intelligence that the Nunes memo was based on...

You should provide a reference that supports your claim that the Democrats' memo is based on "the same intelligence that Nunes" used.

You wrote:

... except they claim their memo paints a more accurate picture of what the intelligence actually says.

Again, a reference would be useful.

You wrote:

Republicans on the House Intelligence Committee voted to release the Nunes memo, but voted against releasing the Democratic memo. My question is, have Chairman Nunes or any other Republicans on the committee publicly discussed why they voted against releasing the Democratic memo?

Republicans are saying they need time to read the Democrats' memo.

Representative Mike Conaway, a senior committee Republican, said Republicans voted against releasing the Democrats’ memo because the House of Representatives had not had a chance to read it. He said the committee agreed to let House members read it and would consider making it public after that.

source: Reuters

Also, maybe Republicans want all eyes on their memo without any distractions for the moment.

[House Intelligence Committee Ranking Member Adam ] Schiff said Republicans said they might consider [releasing the Democrats' memo] in another week. So depending on when the Nunes memo becomes public, it could dominate the discussion in Washington and TV airwaves for several days before Democrats' counterpoint is unveiled.

source: NPR

Also consider this:

Your question, more precisely, may be: Why did all Republicans on the House Intelligence Committee vote against releasing the Democratic memo?

You can then ask: Why did all Democrats on the House Intelligence Committee vote against releasing the Republican memo?

One can extrapolate, based on the vote tallies alone, that partisan political interests, in particular, the upcoming mid-term elections, are also an influence driving each member's vote.

More information: https://intelligence.house.gov/

  • "One can extrapolate..." That seems to be just a more fancy variant of "I speculate that...". Don't get me wrong, the answer is still useful, but basically you don't know why, maybe nobody really knows why. Anyway, why questions are always difficult. – Trilarion Jan 31 '18 at 8:13
  • @Trilarion, your comment centers on true motivations. But the question doesn't ask for true motivations. It specifically asks if the issue has been "publicly discussed" by any Republicans on the committee. The answer to that question is clearly "yes", and I've provided an example. Everything else I wrote is elaborative but not necessary. – Michael_B Jan 31 '18 at 14:27
  • Also, "speculation" and "extrapolation" are practically opposites. The former is theorizing without any data or evidence. The latter is projection based on actual data or evidence. @Trilarion – Michael_B Jan 31 '18 at 14:32
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    To me "speculation" and "extrapolation", especially in everyday language, are rather synonymous. All extrapolation is partly speculative, most speculation is based on some form of evidence. – Trilarion Jan 31 '18 at 14:44
  • @Trilarion, fair enough. But my use of the word "extrapolation" was deliberate, as I think extrapolation is more helpful in Stack answers than pure speculation. The fact is, I wouldn't have even added that section to my answer were there not at least some data to back it up. – Michael_B Feb 1 '18 at 15:22
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From The Hill article found here (Third Paragraph in): "While the panel voted to release that [Democrat's response] memo to the entire House, Republicans expressed concern that publicly releasing the minority memo would damage sensitive intelligence sources and methods, according to Rep. Adam Schiff (D-Calif.), the committee’s ranking member."

This suggests to me that they voted against releasing the DNC Memo at the same time as the Nunes Memo to the Public but are not opposed, and in fact did vote in favor of releasing the memo to the entirety of the House of Representatives. As the Nunes Memo was at this stage about one week ago, it is not out of the question that the Democrat's Memo could be released to the public after it has had time for the rest of the House of Representatives to review the information in the new memo and assess it's value to the public. This seems to be a procedure for how the Intel committee overrides the classification of documents it deems needed for the public to see. The delay is politically adventitious for the Republican position, but I think given the nature of how fractured America has become on these issues, neither memo will convince a significant amount of people to switch horses.

As to why the Republican's voted that way, it seems they wanted to make sure that the Democrats memo did not damage sources and methods, according to Adam Schiff.

  • There is no procedure for overriding classification available to the House of Representatives like you are describing. This is not a process that they are following. The declassification of the memo would be done by Trump via the power of the president. – Ukko Feb 1 '18 at 18:05
  • @Ukko: The logic behind this procedure is discussed in the linked article: "The memo is a committee work product and the responsibility for releasing it, or not releasing it, rests with Congress. The underlying intelligence, however, belongs to the executive branch, and Trump could unilaterally make it public if he wished." – hszmv Feb 1 '18 at 18:10
  • @Ukko: Basically, the intelligence the memo is based on is owned by the Executive Branch, and thus POTUS is the ultimate authority. However, the actual document(s) to be released are owned by Congress. Thus POTUS cannot authorize it's release. In order to do this, Congress needs to meet with the President (and his agents) to make sure nothing their document says compromises sources and methods for obtaining the Intel it used. If POTUS says yes, they will move forward. – hszmv Feb 1 '18 at 18:15
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    @Ukko: "Even if it is publicly released it is still classified." No, that's information that is released through unauthorized channels, like a leak to a Newspaper or a media outlet. Congress can release their own products as the deem fit. The only reason they have to bother the President is he owns the source of the information used in their product and they need to verify with him that there is nothing that disrupts other needs for his own classification. If approved, the memo becomes public knowledge and is no longer classified. – hszmv Feb 1 '18 at 19:56
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    The rub is that the law allowing congress to release the information does not say that it results in declassification. It is not a preferred source on SO but here is a link to a twitter thread by a lawyer specializing in this area arguing it would not declassify the info: twitter.com/MarkSZaidEsq/status/958184614618697733 It is important to remember that classified does not necessarily mean secret. Lots of classified files on people and events contain basically newspaper clippings.Classification often is not protecting what we know, but how much we know, good or bad. – Ukko Feb 2 '18 at 4:46
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As of this time I have not read or heard any public explanation as to why they voted against releasing the Democratic memo. My speculation is that they were opposed to releasing a narrative that was contradictory to the republican memo.

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    I downvoted this answer because this website is not a forum for speculations. – Philipp Jan 30 '18 at 18:28
  • @Phillip- noted, However: the first sentence explicitly answers the question posed by the OP, specifically " have Chairman Nunes or any other Republicans on the committee publicly discussed why they voted against releasing the Democratic memo?" .... I would expect you to downvote other answers that include phrases like "this suggests to me" or "one can extrapolate" as being equally speculative. – BobE Jan 30 '18 at 19:51
  • Extrapolation is projection based on known data. It's not pure speculation. More importantly, that information came at the end of my answer, almost as an aside. If that section were removed, my answer would still be valid because it has a direct response to the OP's question with references. – Michael_B Jan 30 '18 at 20:58
  • @Michael_B : as would mine. The direct, concise answer to the OP question of "have Chairman Nunes or any other Republicans on the committee publicly..." is simple: No, (at least not at the time the question was asked) – BobE Jan 30 '18 at 21:41
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    "As of this time I have not read or heard..." Unless you are a canonical source, you should specify more what you have read and heard so we can judge whether you not having read or heard anything is actually meaning anything. In other words. For answering question negatively one has to present the search that was done. Otherwise I'm fine with saying that there seems to be no public explanation. – Trilarion Jan 31 '18 at 8:10

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