Today, President Trump said that the White House will delay the release of the classified memo written by Democratic members of the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence to the public. The Democrats say this memo provides more context to the memo released last week written by Republican Committee members alleging politically motivated surveillance abuse by the Justice Department and the FBI.
In response to last week’s decision by the Committee to release the Republicans’ memo after the Committee had voted against being able to review the documents the memo is based upon, POGO and Demand Progress sent a letter last Friday to House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-WI) calling for the removal of those members of the Committee who voted to remain uninformed. The following Monday, during a Committee meeting, Representative Jackie Speier (D-CA) pressed Chairman Devin Nunes (R-CA) to allow all the members of the Committee to have access to all of the underlying materials. In the exchange, Chairman Nunes ultimately agreed to contact the Justice Department and the FBI to ask that they formally provide Committee members access to all of the underlying documents.
Today, POGO’s executive director, Danielle Brian, made the following statement:
“Congressional oversight of the Intelligence Community has always been a difficult, delicate task. Most of the work takes place in secret. Americans are asked to trust that behind closed doors, House Intelligence Committee members can set aside political gamesmanship and focus on the hard work of preserving our freedom from outside threats and from government encroachment.
But the fractured, chaotic, and bitterly politicized process that brought these memos to the forefront of public debate is not that. Quite the opposite.
After all of the political points have been scored, debated, and forgotten, the legacy of these memos will remain: they showed that the House Intelligence Committee could not withstand the pressures of politics.
However, it is encouraging to see that the Chairman has recognized that the members of the Committee should have access to the underlying documents. We are pleased that some Committee members shared the concerns we raised in our joint letter, specifically Representative Speier, and forced this issue again on Monday.”
In 2016, POGO joined 32 organizations urging Speaker Ryan and Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi to adopt a series of reforms to strengthen congressional oversight of the Intelligence Community.