BREAKING NEWS : Suspect ID as man behind fake social media pages in Delphi investigation Full Story
BREAKING NEWS : Steuben County detectives arrest Fremont man in shooting death of friend Full Story

House intel votes to release Nunes memo

Rep. Adam Schiff (D-CA) calls the House Intelligence Committee's vote to release the Republican memo alleging FBI abuses a "tragic" day for the committee.

Posted: Jan 30, 2018 10:25 PM
Updated: Jan 30, 2018 10:25 PM

On Monday night, the House Intelligence Committee approved -- on a party line vote -- the public release of a memo alleging a litany of abuses by the FBI and the Justice Department. President Donald Trump now has five days to decide whether or not to allow the memo's release. While no final "OK" has been given, Trump had made little secret of his desire to release the memo.

In expectation of that decision, I reached out to Carrie Cordero, a CNN contributor who has extensive background on the subject having served as Counsel to the Assistant Attorney General for National Security; Senior Associate General Counsel at the Office of the Director of National Intelligence; and Attorney Advisor at the U.S. Department of Justice.

Our conversation, conducted via email and lightly edited for flow, is below.

Cillizza: Walk me through the process going forward. The memo is now at the White House. When does Trump need to make a decision? And when might we see the memo publicly released?

Cordero: According to the House Rules, the President has five days to object to the release of the memo on national security grounds. As long as he does not object, the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence (HPSCI) can release the document. Given that timeline, and the statements from the White House that the President thinks the memo should be released publicly, it is possible that it will be released as early as Saturday, or, perhaps Monday, if business days are used.

There is still a possibility, however, that intelligence community and Department of Justice leadership, or perhaps Trump's national security lawyers who work in the White House, will persuade the President that releasing the memo in its current form will harm national security, and that it should be properly reviewed for declassification purposes. Alternatively, a new memo could be written in an unclassified format that is prepared specifically for public release.

Cillizza: How normal (or not) is a memo like this one — produced by the majority on the House Intelligence Committee that lots of intelligence officials haven't even seen?

Cordero: Highly unusual. Unprecedented, in fact. In my 18 years of professional and academic involvement with the Intelligence Community I have not observed HPSCI release a document using this procedure, and I am not aware of its having been used in the past (although I expect intelligence community historians to be hard at work this week).

The context is that information that is provided to the intelligence oversight committees is information provided by the executive branch of government. And, in circumstances when the intelligence committees write reports based on information provided by the community, they work with the relevant intelligence community agencies to review the reports and declassify information. That's why sometimes the committees produce reports that include both an unclassified report for public consumption, and a separate, classified version.

It is also not unusual for members of the committees to want to discuss publicly information they receive on the committee. This can be for a variety of reasons, including, for example, circumstances where those members are concerned about the use of legal authorities or oppose certain activities being undertaken by an agency or intelligence element as a policy matter.

Normally, what happens in those situations is the member of Congress will send the information he or she wants declassified to the specific agency, and/or to the Office of the Director of National Intelligence (ODNI) for review and approval. This is because the information belongs to the executive branch; not to the committees or the legislative branch. And it is officials in the Executive Branch -- the DNI and ultimately the President -- who have final classification or declassification decision-making authority.

When a member seeks that review, sometimes the intelligence community will approve the declassification, sometimes they will say "no," and sometimes they will declassify portions of the proposed statement or document. This is how members who respect the process and the national security equities at play, work.

Cillizza: What are the national security concerns — if any — to releasing this memo? And how should transparency be balanced with these concerns?

Cordero: I haven't seen the memo, so I can't speak to the precise national security risks that exist if it is released. At a general level, depending on the classification level of the document -- whether SECRET or TOP SECRET -- if released in an unauthorized fashion [it] could cause either "serious damage" or "exceptionally grave damage" to the national security of the United States.

If public reports are correct that the information in the memo is derived from applications that had been presented to and approved by the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court (FISC) then the information could include sensitive investigative information, and information about sources and methods; that is, how the intelligence community obtains its information. Release of such information without proper consideration of the harm that could result from the disclosure can jeopardize ongoing investigations, human sources, technical sources and important relationships with foreign intelligence services, as examples.

As a practical matter, it appears that the White House and the Chairman of the HPSCI have worked together in a way that bypassed the normal process of consultation and deference to the Intelligence Community. Proponents of #releasethememo might bill this as a transparency "win," but I think that scholars and knowledgeable observers of the intelligence community transparency efforts will understand that what is transpiring this week is the exact opposite, because it is "transparency" that will cloud the public's understanding of the actual intelligence information involved. It is hard to see this proposed release as meaningful transparency versus a harmful politicization of intelligence.

Cillizza: Let's say this memo is released. How will it land at the FBI and the broader intelligence community? And what — if any — are the long-term implications of doing something like this?

Cordero: The release of this memo under the process that is unfolding this week may cause serious damage to the relationship between the operational and policy professionals who work in the national security space in the executive branch, and the political leadership at the White House and in the House of Representatives.

There is an entire system of classification that exists to protect national security information. There are laws, policies and procedures. While many involved in the classification system understand that it is far from perfect, and needs to be improved and modernized, it is the system currently in place. There are professionals throughout government who work every day to ensure that national security information is appropriately protected. Those who mishandle classified information -- whether intentionally or deliberately -- are subject to a range of serious consequences, from administrative to criminal prosecution.

Cillizza: Finish this sentence: "Releasing the memo publicly would be a _______ thing for the country." Now, explain.

Cordero: "Releasing the memo publicly would be a sad thing for the country."

Because it means that there is a real reason for Americans to have less faith that the components of their government are functioning in the American people's best interests. The committee vote that already took place last night was a major crack in the credibility of an important American institution: HPSCI. HPSCI is one of two intelligence committees created to provide an important check on intelligence community overreach. The vote last night, and if this document is released by the White House this week, means that an important component of intelligence oversight is broken.

Indiana Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Cases: 1130719

Reported Deaths: 17736
CountyCasesDeaths
Marion1468762242
Lake732391255
Allen68004883
Hamilton51739488
St. Joseph50459650
Elkhart40619547
Vanderburgh34963497
Tippecanoe31212276
Johnson27963467
Hendricks26585385
Porter25969387
Madison21318457
Clark20392279
Vigo19244309
LaPorte17405261
Delaware17004303
Howard16942315
Monroe16794220
Kosciusko14447167
Hancock13259186
Bartholomew13180191
Warrick12320190
Wayne12200269
Grant12181247
Floyd12096226
Morgan10552192
Boone9966124
Noble9429123
Marshall9295147
Henry9268169
Dearborn9053100
Dubois8877140
Shelby8402130
Cass8241128
Lawrence8134185
DeKalb7933109
Jackson779993
Huntington7761116
Montgomery7213123
Gibson7179118
Harrison7031100
Knox6958116
Steuben676589
Miami6675114
Whitley667260
Putnam651286
Clinton633179
Wabash6323111
Jasper622192
Jefferson5946105
Ripley565994
Adams547981
Daviess5124118
Scott498980
Wells4894106
White486069
Greene4749101
Clay468662
Decatur4659110
Fayette462597
Jennings457167
LaGrange432291
Posey412944
Randolph4010107
Washington393656
Fountain382264
Fulton368374
Spencer365147
Starke361474
Owen358577
Sullivan351155
Jay336450
Orange335272
Rush314833
Carroll301639
Franklin295244
Perry292853
Vermillion285958
Tipton253367
Parke251630
Pike251244
Blackford224944
Pulaski213759
Newton185052
Brown179750
Benton171717
Crawford170729
Martin152619
Switzerland149412
Warren137816
Union125116
Ohio92913
Unassigned0599

Ohio Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Cases: 1735925

Reported Deaths: 26851
CountyCasesDeaths
Franklin1807941843
Cuyahoga1705042655
Hamilton1146441544
Montgomery811601405
Summit728891210
Lucas637861027
Butler57319814
Stark544971183
Lorain42941645
Warren36238417
Mahoning36168788
Lake32818501
Clermont31601369
Trumbull27766620
Delaware27462185
Licking26929344
Medina26408353
Fairfield24875287
Greene24585373
Clark22391390
Portage21591283
Richland21339342
Wood20348248
Allen19172326
Miami17486352
Columbiana17078335
Muskingum16882207
Wayne15914307
Tuscarawas14631362
Marion13477196
Ashtabula12980237
Erie12832199
Scioto12586188
Pickaway12326155
Ross11824226
Hancock11659175
Geauga11090179
Lawrence10729172
Belmont10548234
Huron9891159
Jefferson9724228
Union966575
Sandusky9465166
Seneca9020161
Knox8893176
Washington8738159
Darke8446181
Athens842897
Ashland8130152
Auglaize8042120
Shelby7575135
Defiance7431117
Crawford7376150
Fulton7284113
Brown7225116
Logan7087111
Guernsey701786
Mercer6964100
Highland6822120
Clinton6554106
Williams655299
Madison653990
Preble6343140
Putnam6300122
Jackson586597
Champaign586187
Perry571279
Coshocton5700108
Ottawa5696102
Morrow524665
Fayette499072
Hardin4960100
Gallia475878
Van Wert470895
Pike468478
Adams4638110
Henry440380
Hocking414293
Holmes4044141
Wyandot379975
Carroll373678
Paulding327551
Meigs307961
Monroe237261
Noble221949
Morgan219439
Harrison216953
Vinton189738
Unassigned06
Fort Wayne
Partly Cloudy
23° wxIcon
Hi: 24° Lo: 17°
Feels Like: 16°
Angola
Mostly Cloudy
21° wxIcon
Hi: 24° Lo: 17°
Feels Like: 15°
Huntington
Partly Cloudy
22° wxIcon
Hi: 23° Lo: 16°
Feels Like: 22°
Decatur
Partly Cloudy
23° wxIcon
Hi: 25° Lo: 17°
Feels Like: 16°
Van Wert
Partly Cloudy
24° wxIcon
Hi: 25° Lo: 18°
Feels Like: 18°
After a cold start to the week, warmer air begins to filter back into the region Wednesday.
WFFT Radar
WFFT Temperatures
WFFT National

Community Events