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Republicans are demanding the public release of a four-page memo shown to the House Intelligence Committee, and have launched the hashtag #ReleaseTheMemo on Twitter to rally support.
The contents of the memo are currently classified but reports suggest that it contains answers to questions surrounding the controversial 35-page intelligence dossier on President Donald Trump published by BuzzFeed News in January 2016, including whether the FBI and Obama administration’s Justice Department used the dossier to excuse surveillance abuses against the Trump campaign under the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act.
Now, with Twitter as their battleground, several Republican lawmakers are making the case that the memo be released to the public.
Rep. Steve King (R-Iowa), who has read the document, described its contents as “sickening” and “worse than Watergate” in his tweet.
I have read the memo. 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— Steve King (@SteveKingIA) January 19, 2018
“You think about, ‘Is this happening in America or is this the KGB?’ That’s how alarming it is,” Rep. Scott Perry (R-Penn.) told Fox News.
Rep. Matt Gaetz (R-Florida) said that releasing the memo would “show the American people what is really going on in our government.”
“The House must immediately make public the memo prepared by the Intelligence Committee regarding the FBI and the Department of Justice,” he continued in a separately released 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.”
I viewed the classified report from House Intel relating to the FBI, FISA abuses, the infamous Russian dossier, and so-called "Russian collusion." What I saw is absolutely shocking.— Mark Meadows (@RepMarkMeadows) January 19, 2018
This report needs to be released--now. Americans deserve the truth. #ReleaseTheMemo pic.twitter.com/oP2UNujKQL
Even the president’s son and former aides got into the act.
The democrats are lucky Republicans are honorable people. If we played the game like they do the memo would be all over CNN and everywhere else by now. Maybe it’s time we stoop to their level? #releasethememo— Donald Trump Jr. (@DonaldJTrumpJr) January 19, 2018
The fact that NOT ONE Democrat wants a document of this magnitude released to the American people tells you all you need to know about what the @DNC has become.— Sebastian Gorka DrG (@SebGorka) January 19, 2018
And what would have happened to our great nation had Hillary won. https://t.co/lYNqB12zBI
Wikileaks, which published the hacked emails from the Democratic National Committee in the run-up to the 2016 presidential election, is also seeking to give the public access to the memo and has offered to match any reward of up to $1 million to anyone who can access it.
#ReleaseTheMemo: Do you know someone who has access to the FISA abuse memo? Send them here: https://t.co/cLRcuIiQXz— WikiLeaks (@wikileaks) January 19, 2018
WikiLeaks will match reward funds up to $1m sent to this unique Bitcoin address: 3Q2KXS8WYT6dvr91bM2RjvBHqMyx9CbPMN
or marked 'memo2018': https://t.co/lmsmphuH2N pic.twitter.com/j1YEkXqi2S
The memo itself is currently being kept in a secure room, according to reports by the Washington Examiner, to allow House members access to it. While the memo can be read in the room, it is not allowed to leave the room.
The committee voted along party lines on Thursday to grant access to all House lawmakers. All Democrats on the committee voted against releasing the memo, and some were quick to criticize its contents as misleading and to dismiss the sensationalism.
“[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,” said Rep. Adam Schiff (D.Calif.), the top Democrat on the committee.
“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.”
Still, for conservatives and Trump supporters, who have claimed since the election that the Obama administration used FISA warrants to illegally spy on the Republican campaign, the memo is explosive proof of their theory.
“Based on today’s events I have a message tonight for Special Counsel Robert Mueller. Your witch-hunt is now over. Time to close the doors,” Sean Hannity laid out on his Fox News show’s opening monologue. “It is more disturbing than we thought. And right now our sources are telling us that the abuse of power is far greater than Watergate… What we are talking about tonight are the abuse of the powerful tools of intelligence that we use to spy on people.”
“Those tools were used against an opposition candidate, and president-elect and his entire team. And it was done not only under false pretenses but with the with help of Hillary Clinton. She bought and paid for the dossier that they filled with Russian lies…”
To release the memo, House Intelligence Committee chairman Rep. Devin Nunes (R-Calif.) must call a vote. If a majority of the committee members vote that the memo should be made public, the White House will then be given time to review the document. If the executive branch also approves, the memo will be released.
David Gilmour is a reporter who specializes in national politics, internet culture, and technology.