WASHINGTON — The U.S. House Intelligence Committee voted along party lines on Monday to release a classified memorandum that Republicans say shows anti-Trump bias at the Justice Department, the committee’s top Democrat said.
Democratic Representative Adam Schiff, calling it a “sad day” for the committee, told reporters the panel also voted along party lines not to release a Democratic-drafted memo that countered the Republican report.
The memo was commissioned by Representative Devin Nunes, the committee’s Republican chairman, and discusses FBI surveillance practices.
Several House members have said it is critical of Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s probe, while Democrats have criticized the document as “highly misleading” and intended to undermine the investigation.
The House vote gives President Donald Trump up to five days to decide whether to release the classified document. White House spokeswoman Sarah Sanders said on Monday that no decision had been made.
The memos are a major component of an increasingly bitter dispute between Republicans and Democrats over investigations of alleged Russian meddling in the 2016 U.S. election and whether Trump’s associates colluded with Moscow.
Russia denies any meddling, and Trump has dismissed talk of collusion.
Republicans say the memo will expose dangerous bias against the Republican president. Democrats say the document is a partisan bid to protect Trump and a distraction from the need to prevent foreign influence on U.S. elections.
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House Intelligence is one of three congressional committees, along with Mueller, investigating the issue.
Monday’s vote was the first time the declassification process has been used by the committee.
“I think we have crossed a deeply regrettable line in this committee where for the first time in the 10 years or so that I’ve been on the committee there was a vote to politicize the declassification process of intelligence and potentially compromise sources and methods,” Schiff told reporters.
Representative Mike Conaway, a senior Republican member of the committee, said Republicans voted against releasing the Democrats’ memo because the House of Representatives had not yet 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.
Schiff also said the intelligence committee voted down a motion he proposed that the Federal Bureau of Investigation or Department of Justice brief the entire House in a classified session on the underlying facts in the Republican memo.
The Department of Justice, which previously said it opposed the memo’s release, declined comment.
(Reporting by Patricia Zengerle and Eric Beech; Editing by Eric Walsh and Cynthia Osterman)