Sen. Mark Warner (D-Va.) said Wednesday that the classified report compiled by the House Intelligence Committee, which reportedly details abuses by federal law enforcement and surveillance agencies, is “sloppy” and “baseless.” He also has not read the memo.
“I have not seen the memo,” Warner said, according to CNN. “But I think it is sloppy, careless, and again, I think has no grounding in fact.”
The senior senator form Virginia did not explain how he could know intricate details about a document he has not even read.
Under the rules of the U.S. House and the committee motion to make the report available to the entire House, only members of the House have been authorized to read the four-page classified memo. Before the memo can be made available to Senators and their staffs, executive branch agencies like the FBI, and the general public, the committee must vote to make the report publicly available. Congressional Democrats have repeatedly said they oppose making the report available to the public. Rep. Adam Schiff (D-Calif.), the top Democrat on the House Intelligence Committee, has said that the American public doesn’t have the necessary knowledge or experience to adequately understand the findings in the report and should therefore be denied access to it.
The memo, which has stoked both widespread speculation and outrage in Washington, reportedly contains information about the FBI’s reliance on a now-infamous dossier compiled by British ex-spy Christopher Steele to obtain a warrant from a Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court to spy on associates of the Trump presidential campaign. To date, none of the dossier’s substantive allegations of illegal foreign collusion have been independently verified.
Steele, who has not set foot in Russia in nearly two decades, relied on information he received third-hand, including from Kremlin-connected Russians who may have used Steele to peddle disinformation in order to interfere with the 2016 presidential elections in the U.S. This dossier was funded in part by the Democratic National Committee, Hillary Clinton, and possibly others. The firm that commissioned the dossier, Fusion GPS, was at the same time working on behalf of a Russian company accused by the U.S. government of fraud and money laundering as part of a scheme to violate U.S. sanctions against corrupt Russians.
Republican lawmakers in the House are currently considering if, when, and how to make the House report available to the public. Under House rules, if the president objects in writing to the release of the report, a majority vote by the full House of Representatives is necessary to make the report public. Absent a presidential objection, the House Intelligence Committee can release the memo by majority vote.