Democrats could turn to this obscure method in a last-ditch attempt to get around Trump and release a controversial Russia memo
- Rep. Adam Schiff has been stonewalled by President Donald Trump on the release of the Democratic Russia memo that aims to refute the controversial memo released earlier this month by GOP Rep. Devin Nunes.
- If Trump does not agree to declassify the memo, Schiff could potentially use a House of Representatives override vote to release the memo despite Trump's objections.
- Schiff claims Trump has asked a lot more to be redacted from the memo than should be necessary, and has pointed out double standards in the White House's response to the Democratic and Republican memos on issues related to the Russia investigation.
After striking a defiant tone on Tuesday by rebuffing President Donald Trump's request for revisions to his memo, the top Democrat on the House Intelligence Committee Rep. Adam Schiff is running out of options for how to get his Democratic rebuttal to GOP Rep. Devin Nunes released - but he might just have one last trick up his sleeve.
Schiff stated on Tuesday that he would not be making significant revisions to his memo, but was open to working with the FBI.
"We're not going to make any revisions to it," Schiff said. "The only question is what redactions will be made. And obviously we'd like to keep those to a minimum."
Last week, Trump had refused to release Schiff's memo, which reportedly refutes claims that Nunes made in his controversial memo that Trump declassified earlier this month. The president said at the time that he was open to declassifying the Democratic memo as well, but only after revisions.
White House attorney Don McGahn said in a letter that Trump had refused to release the memo because it included "numerous properly classified and sensitive passages."
But there is one little-known congressional procedure that would allow Schiff to get his memo released - but would require lots of support to succeed.
Michael Gerhardt, a University of North Carolina professor who specializes in constitutional law and legislative processes, laid out what Democrats could do now that the ball is in their court.
"First, the Democrats could simply accept the President's decision and make no changes and effectively agree to allow their memo to be maintained confidentially," Gerhardt told Business Insider. "Second, the Dems could make the changes requested. Third, the full House, presumably behind closed doors, would vote to override the President's decision. The options are traced back to House rules and practices."
'Hypocrisy' and playing politics
Schiff claims Trump is requiring him and the Democrats on the House Intelligence Committee to redact and revise a lot more than should be necessary, because some of the information in the memo has already been unsealed by court decisions, the Weekly Standard reported.
AP Photo/Evan Vucci
AP Photo/Evan Vucci
The Democratic rebuttal memo that Schiff has been campaigning for pushes back against the Nunes memo's claims, in particular criticizing its assertion that an unverified dossier detailing Trump's alleged ties to Russia was the sole basis for a surveillance warrant issued against former Trump campaign adviser Carter Page, two sources on the House Intelligence Committee previously told Business Insider.
The Trump-Russia dossier, compiled by former British spy Christopher Steele, remains largely uncorroborated.
The week before Trump sent the Democratic memo back for revisions, he authorized the release of the the Nunes memo that details alleged misconduct on the part of the FBI and Justice Department in the Russia investigation. The FBI had released a rare public statement urging against its release, cautioning that it could reveal intelligence methods.
But Schiff has maintained over the past few days that Trump's concerns about the Democratic memo are politically motivated.
"The hypocrisy of this just kind of reaches out and grabs you by the throat," Schiff said on CBS's "Face the Nation". "Here the Republicans write a memo the FBI quite accurately describes as misleading and omitting material facts, the Department of Justice says it would be 'extraordinary reckless' to release this. And what does the president do? He says 'I'm going to release it, before I even read it, 100% I'm going to release it.'"