On the heels of both houses of Congress reauthorizing Section 702 of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA), it has been reported that an “explosive,” “shocking,” “troubling” and “alarming” four-page memo was made available to members of the House of Representatives after they voted to approve that reauthorization. The memo details systemic and routine abuses of FISA — leading many in the House to condemn those abuses and say that the memo should be made available to the public. There are also indications that the memo would destroy both the probe of Special Counsel Robert Mueller (shown) and allegations that President Trump colluded with Russia.
The House Intelligence Committee released the classified memo to members of the House on Thursday — the same day the Senate voted 65 to 34 to reauthorize section 702 for another six years. The House had already voted 256 to 164 on the reauthorization on January 11 — one week before the memo was made available to them.
Given the reaction of many in the House to the abuses detailed in the memo, one is left to wonder whether the vote would have been different had the memo been released before the vote. Representative Matt Gaetz (R-Fla.) says the memo should be made public and that “the consequence of its release will be major changes in people currently working at the FBI and the Department of Justice.” Others expressed similar sentiments. Representative Jim Jordan (R-Ohio) declared, “It is so alarming the American people have to see this.”
Representative Scott Perry (R-Pa.) likened the behavior of surveillance hawks to the Soviet KGB, saying, “You think about, ‘is this happening in America or is this the KGB?’ That's how alarming it is.” And Representative Mark Meadows (R-N.C.) called the memo “troubling” and “shocking,” adding, “Part of me wishes that I didn't read it because I don’t want to believe that those kinds of things could be happening in this country that I call home and love so much.”
While the specifics of the abuses detailed in the memo are not known (because it is classified), they must be worse than the abuses that are already known; It would be odd for legislators to react with such shock if the abuses were on par with those previously reported.
In demanding that the memo be released publicly, Representative Lee Zeldin (R-N.Y.) took to social media, tweeting on Thursday, “Releasing this classified info doesn't compromise good sources & methods. It reveals the feds' reliance on bad sources & methods.” And again on Friday, Zeldin tweeted, “Immediately #ReleaseTheMemo #FISAMemo & ALL relevant material sourced in it. Every American needs to know the truth! We wouldn't be revealing any sources & methods that we shouldn't; only feds' reliance on bad sources & methods.”
By tweeting not once, but twice, that the memo includes information about “bad sources and methods,” Zeldin seems to be — without revealing any details — indicating that the memo contains new and important information about FISA abuses.
Zeldin was joined — both on Twitter and in his sentiments — by Representative Ron DeSantis (R-Fla.). DeSantis tweeted about the memo twice on Thursday and three times on Friday. In those tweets, DeSantis said the memo “raises serious questions about the upper echelon of the Obama DOJ and Comey FBI as it relates to the so-called collusion investigation” and that “the select committee should, pursuant to House rules, vote to make the report publicly available as soon as possible” because it “is a matter of national significance and the American people deserve the truth.” He also tweeted the video of his appearance on Fox and Friends, where he made his case for the immediate public release of the memo.
The tweets of DeSantis seem to indicate that the memo addresses abuses related to Mueller’s investigation of alleged Trump/Russia collusion. Representative Gaetz was even more specific in his Fox News interview with Sean Hannity. When asked if the information in the memo meant that Mueller “should disband” his investigation, Gaetz said, “Absolutely. This was a lie — built on corruption — built on a sham. The entire investigation is a fiction — is a fallacy. And when the American people see how this began — when the American people see how different people interacted with one another — how organizations were infected and infiltrated and subjected to tremendous bias of individuals — and how that really played out, I think that every American will understand how absolutely ludicrous it is that we continue to allow the Mueller probe to go forward.” He added, “It needs to end because the entire basis is a lie.”
Earlier in that same interview, Gaetz said that the public release of the memo would not “just end with firings,” adding, “I believe there are people who will go to jail.”
While Republican members of the House have come forward to both condemn the abuses detailed in the memo and demand that it be made public, their colleagues across the aisle have been silent on the subject. Gaetz made the point in his Fox News appearance that this is par for the course. “Every single Democrat on the Intelligence Committee voted against even allowing other members of Congress to to see this information,” Gaetz said, adding that those same Democrats would — “of course” — vote against making the memo public.
President Trump — who has been on the receiving end of the abuses and corruption this memo seems to lay bare — has said he will sign the FISA reauthorization when it reaches his desk. He might be wise to reconsider that — not only because Section 702 is a recipe for abuses against the American people, but also out of his own sense of self preservation.
Photo of Robert Mueller: AP Images