House panel releases Democrats’ memo defending FBI surveillance of ex-Trump campaign aide

Washington • The House Intelligence Committee released a redacted version of a Democrat-written memo rebutting GOP allegations that federal law enforcement agencies used politically-biased information to conduct surveillance on one of the president’s former campaign aides.

President Donald Trump had argued that making the Democrats’ memo available to the public would reveal intelligence gathering sources and methods.

The 10-page document contains more classified information than the four-page Republican memo to which it responds. Intelligence Committee Democrats, led by ranking Democrat, Rep. Adam Schiff of California, had pledged to heed recommendations from the FBI and Justice Department regarding any redactions of sensitive information — something, the Democrats say, the GOP did not do.

But on Saturday, committee chairman Devin Nunes, R-Calif., accused Democrats of colluding with the government in a “cover up” of information as he announced the memo had been posted online

“We actually wanted this out,” Nunes told an audience at the Conservative Political Action Conference. “It’s clear evidence that the Democrats are not only covering this up, but they’re also colluding with parts of the government to cover this up.”

According to a senior Democratic committee official, the Democrats on the Intelligence panel have received the memo, and are reviewing it.

Democrats bristled when Trump refused to allow their full memo to be made public, accusing him of applying a double standard. He promised to release the Republican memo before he had even read it, according to White House officials and the timing of his public comments.

The GOP memo charged that the FBI and Justice Department had secured a surveillance warrant against former Trump campaign aide Carter Page by relying on false information from Christopher Steele, the British ex-spy who wrote a now-famous dossier alleging Trump has personal and financial ties to Russia.

Democrats have argued that the information presented in the Republican-drafted memo was “cherry-picked” and lacked important context that they would present in their memo. They have said the GOP was reluctant to allow its release because the rebuttal would undercut the Republicans’ argument.