‘We’re in memo hell’: House GOP leaders complain their own party turned Russia probe into partisan warfare
Republican leaders on the House Intelligence Committee—who helped ignite a partisan melodrama around the release of classified memos pertaining to the Russia investigation—are experiencing a case of “memo fatigue,” the Washington Post reports.
According to the Post, GOP leaders in the House are “dispensing with the memo format” as a means to sway the national discourse, with some party leaders expressing regret over the whirlwind scandal that unfolded in recent weeks.
Last Friday, the House Intelligence Committee released a memo, drafted by a staffer for committee chairman and former Trump transition team member Rep. Devin Nunes (R-CA), to the public. That four-page document alleged widespread surveillance abuses by the FBI, though House Republicans, including Nunes, were forced to walk back key claims that seemed to target the Department of Justice’s handling of the Russia investigation.
Now, Democrats want to release their own 10-page counter memo. Monday, the intel committee voted unanimously to release that memo after Democrats pressured Republicans on the issue of transparency. That memo awaits review by President Donald Trump, who can either redact all or portions of the text, or allow the full document to be released. The president has until Saturday to decide his course of action on that counter memo.
“The problem with this whole committee and the investigation itself,” House Intelligence Committee member Rep. Thomas Rooney (R-FL) told the Post, arguing “in a normal world,” the committee would have interviewed permanent witnesses to their surveillance concerns.
“Instead we do a memo,” Rooney added. “And now the Democrats are doing their memo, and we’re in memo hell.”
“I said from the beginning that neither of these memos should have been written,” Rep. Charlie Dent (R-PA) said. “I’m all for transparency, but this whole exercise is transparently partisan.”
The dramatic fight over the release of these memos is the latest evidence of climbing tension within the House intel committee. Nunes, who “temporarily” recused himself from the committee’s Russia investigation after it was revealed he obtained “unmasking” information directly from White House officials, has nonetheless been leading a shadow investigation geared towards discrediting the FBI’s probe of Trump and Russia.
Those tensions appeared to reach a fever pitch Wednesday, when CBS News reported Nunes is planning on building a literal wall between Democratic and Republican staffers on the committee.
Ranking member Rep. Adam Schiff (D-CA), who’s had is fair share of public disagreement with Nunes, called the proposal “destructive.”
“While we have more than our share of difficulties, the important oversight work of the committee continues with our staff working together irrespective of party,” Schiff said.