Politics & National Security
A Timeline of the House Intelligence Committee Chairman: All the Nunes That’s Fit to Print
The furor over the classified memo prepared by House intelligence committee Chairman Devin Nunes has reached a fever pitch now that the memo has been released. The memo has become a matter of great partisan contention in recent weeks―as has the congressman behind it. But this is not the first time that Nunes's behavior has been called into question. Rather, this caps more than a year of unusual behavior from him—behavior that caused consternation from his colleagues in both parties, as well as the intelligence community.
We thought it would be useful to list that behavior all in one place. So we put together a timeline.
Nunes served relatively quietly on the Trump transition team, first drawing attention for comments and behavior that cast doubt on the impartiality of his committee’s Russia probe. In the spring of 2017, following the president accusation that Trump had been wiretapped by the previous administration, Nunes held a series of unusual press conferences in which he expressed concern over improper “unmasking” of Trump transition officials. After reporters discovered that Nunes had received from the White House the “unmasking” information on which he claimed to have briefed the president, Democrats and watchdogs organizations raised concerns over Nunes’s leadership that forced him to informally recuse himself from the House intelligence committee’s Russia investigation. Nunes recused himself from the HPSCI probe pending a House ethics investigation, which cleared him in December 2017.
Nunes returned to the public eye in mid-January 2018, when he announced that his staff had prepared a classified memo documenting alleged government abuses of surveillance authority. Pursuant to a procedure detailed in House rules, the memo was released to the public following signoff from the intelligence committee Republicans and the president. Committee Democrats, led by Ranking Member Adam Schiff, have repeatedly expressed their concerns over the memo’s veracity and described it as “highly distorted spin.” The FBI has also expressed concern “about material omissions of fact that fundamentally impact the memo’s accuracy.”
Below is a timeline of Nunes’s actions regarding the Russia investigation, as well as possible abuse by law enforcement and intelligence officials in that connection. The statements come from reports in major news organizations, press conferences and releases by Nunes himself.
Nov. 11, 2016: Nunes announces his appointment to the Trump transition team, advising on the appointments of cabinet members and other administration leadership.
Feb. 27, 2017: The Guardian reports on evidence that Michael Flynn had communicated with Russian ambassador to the United States Sergey Kislyak. In response, Nunes gives a statement to reporters saying:
As of right now, I don’t have any evidence of any phone calls … That doesn’t mean they don’t exist, but I don’t have that. And what I’ve been told by many folks is that there’s nothing there ... I want to be very careful that we can’t just go on a witch-hunt against Americans because they appear in news stories.
In response to Nunes’s statement, Schiff gives a counter-press conference criticizing Nunes for disclosing information: “When you begin an investigation, you don’t begin by stating what you believe to be the conclusion.”
March 4, 2017: Trump posts a series of tweets alleging surveillance of his communications by the previous administration:
Terrible! Just found out that Obama had my "wires tapped" in Trump Tower just before the victory. Nothing found. This is McCarthyism!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) March 4, 2017
How low has President Obama gone to tapp my phones during the very sacred election process. This is Nixon/Watergate. Bad (or sick) guy!— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) March 4, 2017
March 8, 2017: Nunes and Schiff send a letter to then-acting Attorney General Dana Boente requesting, according to the Washington Post, “copies of any applications the Justice Department submitted to the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court, any orders that the court released, and any copies of warrants issued by federal judges or magistrates regarding Trump, his campaign surrogates, business associates, employees, family and friends” that may exist. The request is limited to applications, warrants and orders from 2016. The letter sets a deadline of March 13 for the Justice Department to produce the information.
March 13, 2017: The Justice Department requests more time to respond to the March 8 letter. In a statement, the Justice Department announces:
This afternoon, the Department of Justice placed calls to representatives of the chairman and ranking member of the United States House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence to ask for additional time to review the request in compliance with the governing legal authorities and to determine what if any responsive documents may exist.
A spokesman for Nunes responds:
The Department of Justice has asked for more time to comply with the House Intelligence Committee's request for information related to possible surveillance of Donald Trump or his associates during the election campaign ... We have asked the department to provide us this information before the committee's open hearing scheduled for March 20. If the committee does not receive a response by then, the committee will ask for this information during the March 20 hearing and may resort to a compulsory process if our questions continue to go unanswered.
March 15, 2017: In response to Trump’s March 4 tweets alleging wiretapping, Nunes tells the Washington Post, “I don’t think there was an actual tap of Trump Tower.” Nunes and Schiff also send a letter to then-FBI director James Comey, NSA director Adm. Mike Rogers, and CIA director Mike Pompeo "demanding a complete list of people whose names have been 'unmasked' after popping up in other surveillance ..." Nunes tells the Post that it’s possible that Trump’s name might be on such a list. He adds that he has seen no evidence of what the Post describes as “improper contacts” between Trump, his associates, and the Russian government.
March 17, 2017: Nunes issues a statement saying:
The Committee is satisfied that the Department of Justice has fully complied with our request for information from our March 8 letter on possible surveillance related to Donald Trump or his associates. The Committee still has not received information requested from the CIA and FBI in our March 15 letter that is necessary to determine whether information collected on U.S. persons was mishandled and leaked. However, the NSA has partially met our request and has committed to fully meet our request by the end of next week.
March 20, 2017: The House Intelligence Committee holds an open hearing on Russian active measures with testimony from Comey and Rogers. In his opening statement, Nunes asks the following questions:
Were the communications of officials or associates of any campaign subject to any kind of improper surveillance? The Intelligence Community has extremely strict procedures for handling information pertaining to any U.S. citizens who are subject even to incidental surveillance, and this Committee wants to ensure all surveillance activities have followed all relevant laws, rules, and regulations. Let me be clear: we know there was not a wiretap on Trump Tower. However, it’s still possible that other surveillance activities were used against President Trump and his associates.
Nunes also encourages “anyone who has information about these topics to come forward and speak to the Committee.”
During the hearing, Schiff asks then-FBI director Comey whether Comey is aware of any surveillance collection that targeted Trump. Comey replies that there was no information he has to corroborate Trump’s claims. Comey goes on to say that there is law that governs a process for surveillance and the administration would have followed both.
March 21, 2017: The Daily Beast will later report that on March 21, Nunes was "traveling with a senior committee staffer in an Uber on Tuesday evening when he received a communication on his phone ... After the message, Nunes left the car abruptly, leaving his own staffer in the dark about his whereabouts."
March 22, 2017: Nunes holds a press conference at the Capitol building, making the following statement before taking questions:
At our open hearing on Monday, I encouraged anyone who has information about relative topics, including surveillance on President-elect Trump or his transition team, to come forward and speak to members of the Committee. I also said that while there was no a physical wiretap of Trump Tower, I was concerned that other surveillance activities were used against President Trump and his associates. So first, I recently confirmed that on numerous occasions, the intelligence community incidentally collected information about U.S. citizens involved in the Trump transition. Details about persons associated with the incoming administration, details with little apparent foreign intelligence value were widely disseminated in intelligence community reporting. Third, I have confirmed that additional names of Trump transition team members were unmasked. And forth and finally, I want to be clear, none of this surveillance was related to Russia, or the investigation of Russian activities, or of the Trump team ... I’ve asked the directors of FBI, NSA, and CIA to expeditiously comply with my March 15th letter that you all received a couple of weeks ago, and provide a full account of these surveillance activities. I informed Speaker Ryan this morning of this information, and I will be going to the White House this afternoon to share what I know with the president and his team. Before I get to questions I want to say that, uh, as you know there has been what appears to be a terrorist attack in the United Kingdom, obviously very concerned and our thoughts and prayers go out to our strong friends and allies over across the pond.
Nunes then visits the White House to brief Trump on the intelligence reports. Directly afterward, he holds another press conference, this time on the White House lawn. Trump says he feels “somewhat vindicated” after the Nunes briefing.
Nunes is peppered by questions from reporters and commentators both at Capitol Hill and at the White House, many of them focusing on whether the president’s communications were “incidentally” collected” or “targeted.” In response, Nunes says he believes the surveillance was done legally, that the collection was incidental, and that he doesn’t know if the president’s communications were targeted.
When asked whether it was the surveillance or the unmasking that alarmed him, Nunes says,
All the above. I’m really bothered by the unmasking ... [but on the surveillance] it bothers me that that would have any foreign intelligence value whatsoever, and why people would need to know that about president elect trump and his transition team.
Asked whether it was appropriate for him to brief the president “given that it’s his own administration or campaign associates that are a part of this investigation,” Nunes replies that the reports “have everything to do with surveillance activities” and that “the President needs to know that these intelligence reports are out there” and that Nunes has “ a duty to tell him that.” Nunes does not answer a reporter’s question on whether the Justice Department approved his briefing of Trump. At this point, Nunes has not consulted with the committee’s Democrats regarding either the substance of his concerns or his press conferences, but he says he will meet with Schiff “at some point to talk about where to go with this investigation.”
March 23, 2017: In a closed-door committee meeting, Nunes apologizes to the committee Democrats for his handling of the potential revelations into surveillance of the Trump team, calling it a "judgement call" to brief the president before talking to his colleagues. Nunes stresses "that he really wanted [the committee’s investigation] to be bipartisan,” according to Democratic Rep. Jim Himes.
A Nunes spokesperson later clarifies that Nunes does not know “for sure” whether Trump or his associates were even party to the communications that Nunes is concerned had been surveilled. "He said he'll have to get all the documents he requested from the [intelligence community] about this before he knows for sure."
March 23, 2017: Appearing on Hannity, Nunes explains his rationale for briefing Trump on the sensitive information: "I felt like I had a duty and obligation to tell him, because, as you know, he’s taking a lot of heat in the news media ... I think to some degree there are some things he should look at to see whether, in fact, he thinks the collection was proper or not."
March 24, 2017: Nunes cancels a planned open intelligence committee hearing scheduled with former Director of National Intelligence James Clapper, former CIA director John Brennan, and former Deputy Attorney General Sally Yates, “in order to make time available” for Comey and Rogers to brief the panel on “additional information” that came up during the open hearing on March 20. In a tweet, Schiff calls the cancellation an “attempt to choke off public info.”
March 27, 2017: Nunes admits meeting secretly at the White House with intelligence officials to view the intelligence behind his claims in his March 22 press conference. His spokesman explains:
Chairman Nunes met with his source at the White House grounds in order to have proximity to a secure location where he could view the information provided by the source ... The Chairman is extremely concerned by the possible improper unmasking of names of U.S. citizens, and he began looking into this issue even before President Trump tweeted his assertion that Trump Tower had been wiretapped.
In response, Schiff calls on Nunes to “recuse himself from any further involvement in the Russia investigation” and all “oversight matters pertaining to any incidental collection of the Trump transition."
March 28, 2017: Nunes declines to recuse himself from the investigation. Pressed about Democrats’ concerns, he says “That sounds like their problem.”
March 28, 2017: Two watchdog organizations, Democracy 21 and Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington, submit a letter to the Office of Congressional Ethics requesting a preliminary investigation into whether Nunes “disclosed classified information to the public on March 22, 2017 in violation of House ethics rules.”
March 29, 2017: Nunes makes a statement to reporters, saying: "We’re beginning to figure out who’s actually serious about the investigation because it appears like the Democrats aren’t really serious about this investigation." Schiff responds by reiterating his concerns about Nunes's cancellation of the March 28 open hearing featuring Clapper, Brennan, and Yates, which Nunes has yet to reschedule.
March 30, 2017: The New York Times reports that Ezra Cohen-Watnick, the National Security Council’s senior director for intelligence, and Michael Ellis, a lawyer in the White House counsel’s office working on national security issues, provided Nunes the intelligence documents he referenced in his March 22 press conference.
April 6, 2017: The House Ethics Committee opens an investigation into whether Nunes made unauthorized disclosures of classified information while overseeing the Russian investigation, focusing on whether Nunes broke federal law or House ethics rules.
Nunes recuses himself informally from the Russian investigation, leaving open the possibility of returning. He releases a statement, saying:
Several leftwing activist groups have filed accusations against me with the Office of Congressional Ethics. The charges are entirely false and politically motivated, and are being leveled just as the American people are beginning to learn the truth about the improper unmasking of the identities of U.S. citizens and other abuses of power. Despite the baselessness of the charges, I believe it is in the best interests of the House Intelligence Committee and the Congress for me to have Representative Mike Conaway, with assistance from Representatives Trey Gowdy and Tom Rooney, temporarily take charge of the Committee’s Russia investigation while the House Ethics Committee looks into this matter. I will continue to fulfill all my other responsibilities as Committee Chairman, and I am requesting to speak to the Ethics Committee at the earliest possible opportunity in order to expedite the dismissal of these false claims.
May 18, 2017: CNN reports that Nunes is still reviewing intelligence related to the Russia investigation, prompting angry responses from Democrats. Asked about his trip to the CIA to review the intelligence, Nunes responds, “I don’t talk about intelligence.” A senior Republican aide adds that Nunes “never technically recused himself” and had only that other Republicans “temporarily take charge” of the Russia investigation.
May 19, 2017: Nunes appears on Fox News with Bret Baier and says he is still handling the aspect of the committee’s Russia probe dealing with unmasking of Trump associates. “Simply put, I’m still the chairman of the committee ... The way to look into this is that I’m still read into everything, but ... I was going to set at least the Russia side of the investigation aside because I didn't want to be the face of this investigation. But everything else, I’m still in charge of … Especially the unmasking.”
May 31, 2017: Nunes issues three subpoenas relating to whether intelligence officials in the Obama administration improperly unmasked Trump officials in intelligence reports. He is criticized the next day by Schiff for using the power when he is recused from the Russia investigation.
June 19, 2017: In a radio interview, Nunes says, “I never recused myself ... This was essentially made up by the media."
July 24, 2017: Politico reports that Nunes is likely to attend a closed intelligence committee hearing featuring testimony from Trump’s son-in-law Jared Kushner, despite Nunes's informal recusal.
July 27, 2017: Nunes sends a letter to Director of National Intelligence Dan Coats announcing that he is introducing a bill to require “individual, fact-based justifications for each request for U.S. person information sourced from disseminated intelligence reports.” He writes that “one official, whose position had no apparent intelligence-related function, made hundreds of unmasking requests during the final year of the Obama administration,” and also that “Obama-era officials sought the identities of Trump transition officials within intelligence reports … there was no meaningful explanation offered by these officials as to why they needed or how they would use this U.S. person information, and thus, the Committee is left with the impression that these officials may have used this information for improper purposes, including the possibility of leaking.”
Aug. 24, 2017: Nunes signs off on subpoenas to both Attorney General Jeff Sessions and FBI director Chris Wray for the production of all documents related to Christopher Steele, the Steele dossier, Fusion GPS and any FISA applications involving those actors.
Sept. 1, 2017: Nunes sends Attorney General Sessions a letter granting the FBI and Justice Department 13 more days to comply with the previously issued subpoenas.
Oct. 4, 2017: According to an Oct. 9 CNN report, on Oct. 4 Nunes issues subpoenas to the partners leading Fusion GPS, requesting documents and testimony before the committee.
Oct. 9, 2017: CNN reports on Nunes’s subpoenas to Fusion GPS. When CNN asks Nunes why he signed off on the subpoenas despite having stepped away from the investigation, he responds, "You can ask, but you're not going to get a response."
Oct. 24, 2017: Nunes announces a separate intelligence committee investigation into Uranium One, a Canadian mining company that maintains mining licenses inside the United States. In 2010, the Obama administration approved a sale of Uranium One to Rosatom, the Russian government’s nuclear energy agency. Numerous agencies, including the State Department, signed off on the deal after finding that it would have no effect on national security. However, Republicans have pointed to this deal as evidence that the Russians benefited from their relationship with Hillary Clinton.
“We’re not going to jump to any conclusions at this time,” Nunes says in announcing the investigation. “But one of the things as you know that we’re concerned about is whether or not there was an FBI investigation, was there a [Justice Department] investigation, and if so, why was Congress not informed of this matter. So, that will be the start of the probe. It will be a joint … two different committees [House Judiciary Committee and the House Intelligence Committee, with both partnered separately with the House Oversight Committee] who will be looking into this. And we will keep you posted with further details.” Nunes also says that HPSCI has “been looking into this for awhile now.”
Nunes says that he has not spoken to the White House about the investigation. When asked if he would brief the White House in the future, he says, “if appropriate, yeah.”
Schiff declares Nunes’s announcement “a partisan effort to distract ... aligned with what the White House has been urging, and Fox and Breitbart.”
Oct, 26, 2017: Nunes goes on Fox News to discuss his concerns about Uranium One, saying, “How is it that our government could approve a sale of 20 percent of our uranium at the same time that there was an open FBI investigation?” (Note that the Washington Post’s Fact Checker disputes this statement, reporting that Uranium One’s production is only 2 percent of total U.S. uranium production.)
Dec. 2, 2017: Nunes releases a statement to the Washington Examiner in response to news accounts that Special Counsel Robert Mueller has removed Peter Strzok, deputy head of counterintelligence at the FBI and a key player in both the Clinton email investigation and the special counsel probe, due to text messages between Strzok and FBI lawyer Lisa Page disparaging Trump and other political figures.
By hiding from Congress, and from the American people, documented political bias by a key FBI head investigator for both the Russia collusion probe and the Clinton email investigation, the FBI and DOJ engaged in a willful attempt to thwart Congress' constitutional oversight responsibility. This is part of a months-long pattern by the DOJ and FBI of stonewalling and obstructing this committee's oversight work, particularly oversight of their use of the Steele dossier. At this point, these agencies should be investigating themselves …
In response, the Justice Department releases the following statement to the Washington Examiner:
We disagree with the Chairman's characterization and will continue to work with congressional committees to provide the information they request consistent with our national security responsibilities. The Department has already provided members of [the House Intelligence Committee] and House leadership with several hundred pages of classified documents and multiple briefings ― including for example clear answers as to whether any FBI payments were made to a source in question related to the dossier ― and has more recently cleared key witnesses they have requested to testify, including Mr. McCabe, Mr. Strzok, and the alleged handler in question.
Dec. 7, 2017: The House Ethics Committee announces that it is closing its investigation of Nunes and will take no further action against him. In response, Nunes issues the following statement:
On April 6, 2017, the Ethics Committee announced that it would investigate allegations that I made unauthorized disclosures of classified information. I’d like to thank the Ethics Committee for completely clearing me today of the cloud that was created by this investigation, and for determining that I committed no violation of anything—no violation of House Rules, law, regulations, or any other standards of conduct. While I appreciate the Ethics Committee’s work, I need to reiterate that the allegations against me were obviously frivolous and were rooted in politically motivated complaints filed against me by left-wing activist groups. I respect the ethics process, but I remain dismayed that it took an unbelievable eight months for the Committee to dismiss this matter.
Furthermore, as Chairman of the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence and as a Member of Congress, I am concerned about the unprecedented step the Ethics Committee took in both taking up allegations of unauthorized disclosures of classified information—a review that has historically been undertaken by non-partisan professional staff within the respective congressional committees—and how it ultimately reviewed this specific matter. I am also concerned by public statements made by four of the Ethics Committee’s five Democrats that appeared to prejudge this matter before they began investigating the complaint.
I therefore call on the Ethics Committee to publicly release all its transcripts related to my case. The Committee can work with me and my staff to ensure that any necessary protocols regarding classified information be adopted prior to any such release. Both this House and the American people would undoubtedly benefit from such an act of transparency and accountability to bolster confidence that partisanship does not infect the Ethics Committee’s investigations.
Dec. 15, 2017: Several HPSCI witness interviews are scheduled in New York next week despite that the witnesses are willing to come to Washington at a later date. This leaves member to choose between attending the important interviews in New York or being present for the tax bill vote. Additionally, no new interviews are scheduled after the holidays despite the Democrats’ numerous requests to bring in various witnesses. Schiff criticizes the committee majority for attempting to rush through the Russia investigation, saying, “We’re departing from all of our practices. We’re departing from what’s in the best interest of the investigation in an effort to jam in every possible interview in December. And this looks like the House leadership capitulating to pressure from the White House and Steve Bannon.” Nunes refuses to comment to the New York Times when asked for a response, saying, “Not a chance I’m ever going to talk to you.”
Jan. 3, 2018: Regarding his subpoenas of the Justice Department for documents related to Christopher Steele, Fusion GPS, and the Steele dossier, Nunes issues the following statement: “After speaking to Deputy Attorney General Rosenstein this evening, I believe the House Intelligence Committee has reached an agreement with the Department of Justice that will provide the committee with access to all the documents and witnesses we have requested. The committee looks forward to receiving access to the documents over the coming days.”
Jan. 18, 2018: HPSCI votes to share memo with full House the contents of the memo, prompting around 200 House Republicans to visit the secure facility where it was housed to read it.
Schiff responds with a statement condemning the release:
The 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 ... 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.
Those Republicans who began to read the memo took to Twitter or cable news to warn of what they say are gross violations by the FBI, with Rep. Steve King describing the memo's conclusions as "worse than Watergate," Rep. Jim Jordan claiming the document is “so alarming the American people have to see this,” and Rep. Mark Meadows saying, “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.”
The Washington Post later reports that Republican Reps. Mark Meadows and Jim Jordan first bring the memo to President Trump’s attention on a Jan. 18 phone call.
Jan. 19, 2018: The New York Times reports that the memo primarily alleges abuse of surveillance authorities in obtaining a FISA warrant to surveil former Trump campaign advisor Carter Page. Specifically, the memo reports that “law enforcement officials failed to adequately explain to the [FISA] court judge that they were relying in part on research by … Christopher Steele, that had been financed by the Democratic National Committee and Hillary Clinton’s presidential campaign.”
Jan. 22, 2018: Politico reports that Nunes has denied requests from the Justice Department and the FBI to view the memo.
Jan. 23, 2018: In an interview with the Washington Post, Schiff repeats his claims that the memo does not tell the full story, saying: “It’s highly distorted spin by Nunes. The Nunes spin memo distorts the underlying materials and has presented Members with a very misleading impression of what those materials show.”
Speaking on HPSCI’s decision along party lines to release the memo to the full House, Schiff says, “The release of the materials by the chairman violated an agreement he entered into with the FBI and the Department of Justice. The agreement was because of the sensitivity of the materials to limit their distribution. There were certain conditions attached to the viewing of the materials which have been violated.” Schiff adds that there was “no limit” to “how far Nunes and the majority are willing to go to protect the president from the Russia investigation.” According to the Washington Post, a representative says that “lawmakers had to sign a waiver produced by the House Intelligence Committee that barred them from obtaining copies of the report, taking notes about the report or discussing anything they read in the report.” The penalty for violating that waiver was unclear.
Jan. 24, 2018: In a letter, the Justice Department warns Nunes against releasing the memo. The department writes that it would be
extraordinarily reckless for the Committee to disclose such information publicly without giving the Department and the FBI the opportunity to review the memorandum and to advise the HPSCI of the risk of harm to national security and to ongoing investigations that could come from public release.
Jan. 28, 2018: The New York Times reports that the activity at the center of the controversial memo—an allegedly less than forthright representation to a FISC judge in order to obtain a FISA order for electronic surveillance on Carter Page—was approved by Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein. According to several sources, Rosenstein approved the application for an extension of a FISA Warrant.
Jan. 29, 2018: The intelligence committee votes along party lines to release the memo and votes down several motions by Schiff, including a motion to release a Democratic rebuttal to the Nunes memo. Schiff says, “Sadly, we expect that the president of the United States will not put the national interest over his own personal interest. But it is a sad day indeed when that is also true of our own committee.”
The same afternoon, President Trump receives and reads the memo. He reportedly expresses to aides that the memo will allow him to fire Rosenstein.
Rosenstein and FBI director Christopher Wray meet with White House Chief of Staff John Kelly to lobby against the memo’s release. Wray later calls Kelly to renew his request.
Jan. 31, 2018: In a statement responding to the potential release of the memo, the FBI expresses “grave concerns about material omissions of fact that fundamentally impact the memo’s accuracy.”
Having stonewalled Congress’ demands for information for nearly a year, it’s no surprise to see the FBI and DOJ issue spurious objections to allowing the American people to see information related to surveillance abuses at these agencies. The FBI is intimately familiar with ‘material omissions’ with respect to their presentations to both Congress and the courts, and they are welcome to make public, to the greatest extent possible, all the information they have on these abuses. Regardless, it’s clear that top officials used unverified information in a court document to fuel a counter-intelligence investigation during an American political campaign. Once the truth gets out, we can begin taking steps to ensure our intelligence agencies and courts are never misused like this again.
Late on Jan. 31, Schiff tweets:
BREAKING: Discovered late tonight that Chairman Nunes made material changes to the memo he sent to White House – changes not approved by the Committee. White House therefore reviewing a document the Committee has not approved for release. pic.twitter.com/llhQK9L7l6— Adam Schiff (@RepAdamSchiff) February 1, 2018
A spokesperson for the Republican majority later says that the changes were “minor edits,” such as grammatical changes, “and two edits requested by the FBI and by the minority themselves.”
Feb. 1, 2018: Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer requests that Speaker of the House Paul Ryan remove Nunes from HPSCI and withdraw support for the release of the memo. Nancy Pelosi also writes to Ryan demanding Nunes’s removal. Ryan responds, “The memo is Congress doing its job and conducting legitimate oversight over a very unique law, FISA, and if mistakes were made and individuals did something wrong, then it is our job as the legislative branch of government to conduct oversight over the executive branch,” and continues, “What this is not is an indictment on our institutions, of our justice system. This memo is not an indictment of the FBI … it does not impugn the Mueller investigation.”
Feb. 2, 2018: Trump tweets,
The top Leadership and Investigators of the FBI and the Justice Department have politicized the sacred investigative process in favor of Democrats and against Republicans - something which would have been unthinkable just a short time ago. Rank & File are great people!— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) February 2, 2018
He also tweets a quote from Judicial Watch president Tom Fitton:
“You had Hillary Clinton and the Democratic Party try to hide the fact that they gave money to GPS Fusion to create a Dossier which was used by their allies in the Obama Administration to convince a Court misleadingly, by all accounts, to spy on the Trump Team.” Tom Fitton, JW— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) February 2, 2018
Around noon, Trump approves the memo for release by declassifying the document in its entirety—without any redactions. The House intelligence committee releases the memo soon after.