Schiff Accuses Nunes Of Altering Memo Before Submission To Trump For Possible Release

440px-Adam_Schiff_115th_official_photo The plot thickened last night over the anticipated release of a four-page memo from the House Intelligence Committee.  California Rep. Adam Schiff (D) publicly accused House Intelligence Committee Chairman Devin Nunes (R-Calif.) of giving President Trump a “secretly altered” version of the memo to review for possible release.  The Schiff allegation raises an interesting issue under the House that could theoretically warrant judicial review (though the outcome is far from certain).  The Committee staff is arguing that the changes were minor edits, including grammatical changes.

As discussed in my column in the Hill newspaper, subsection 11(g) of Rule X allows the members to vote to release classified information when the majority determines “that the public interest would be served by such disclosure.” With such a vote, the president is notified of the action and is given five days to determine if the material should be released to the public. If a president objects, the committee can vote to refer the matter to the entire House of Representatives for a closed session and vote on the release of the information.

However, the rule anticipates that the presidential review and later possible House vote will be the same document approved by the Committee. Otherwise, the rule would make little sense since material could be added or removed unilaterally.

That is what Schiff is alleging.  He said in a tweet (when did we shift to government-by-tweet?):

“Discovered late tonight that Chairman Nunes made material changes to the memo he sent to White House – changes not approved by the Committee. White House therefore reviewing a document the Committee has not approved for release.”

The question is how such a dispute is handled.  Schiff notably did not seek an injunction from a court. These matters are generally left to the Congress to handle and a court would likely decline to intervene. However, what is being alleged is not the merits of the decision to proceed under Rule X but the failure to follow the rules.

There is also the question of whether removing material is the same as adding material. I do not know what Schiff is referencing but if information was deleted, Nunes could claim that the “lesser is contained in the greater” of the original vote.

As for grammatical changes, it could be argued that there changes were de minimus.  However, the time to correct language and grammar was before the vote, not after the vote.  That does not mean that this is a major breach, but it should have been avoided through better staff work.

Since this rule has never been used, this is a rather novel addition to an already novel situation.


What do you think?

247 thoughts on “Schiff Accuses Nunes Of Altering Memo Before Submission To Trump For Possible Release”

  1. “As for grammatical changes, it could be argued that there changes were de minimus.”

    De minimus?

    Gotta love the law. After 5 years of engineering school followed by 3 years of architecture school — aka 8 years of reasonably difficult university education that included not a single course in law — I was forced into a situation where I had to learn about the law, and do it fast (during ongoing civil and criminal proceedings), and the first thing I learned is that lawyers habitually resort to speaking in a DEAD LANGUAGE in order to impart both mystery and a façade of intelligence to what it is that they do.

    De minimus? Maybe it’s just my engineering training and it’s not actually a word in common usage, however I’d think that the better word would be “negligible.” It’s a word that normal people — people within a fairly large range of intelligence — use and can comprehend without looking for translations from Latin.

    Of course maybe that’s just me. I once threw a Henry Miller book (I think it was Tropic of Cancer) in the trash after fighting my way through the first chapter wherein he repeatedly resorted to throwing in words and (if I recall correctly) entire sentences of French — I guess in order to prove that he could speak French?

    I don’t consider that good writing. A good rule might be to speak French when speaking TO French, speak English to English, and for God’s sake, save the Latin for when there’s no good word in a living language.
    Ad hominem, for instance, is fine — wonderful Legal Latin — because there’s no English equivalent. But when you want to express an idea such as “de minimus,” it’s not particularly difficult to find a word that doesn’t need translation.

    Fortunately, Turley is usually a good writer, so I can ignore his de minimus infraction because it’s negligible. But if this becomes a habit, into the trash he goes with Henry Miller.

    1. French was spoken in the UK until 1100 and law was conducted in French there until the 14th century.

      In Italy and the Roman Empire and into modernity, law, medicine, etc. were conducted in Latin.

      I wonder how many educations, professions, manuals, regulations, textbooks et al. would require complete re-writes were English suddenly mandatory.

      (BTW, Obama will never be eligible for the presidency. The American Founders spoke French as they read the Law of Nations in French wherein they learned the definition of “natural born citizen” in French as the very Swiss Vattel wrote in French in France – 1758, Book 1, Ch. 19, Sec. 212. Small world, huh?).

      1. Of course biology still relies heavily on Latin. I know that from watching Chuck Jones cartoons (on the big screen, back when they were used as preludes to the main features in movie theatres). Otherwise, I’d have no clue that the Latin for Coyote is Stupidicus Moronicus.

        In engineering — which is to say physics — greek letters are the go-to symbols, but that’s about it. When trying to express a concept or work out a formula, unless trying to communicate with a Greek one doesn’t generally break out into words or long Henry-Miller-like passages of Greek not spoken by the people with whom one is presumably trying to communicate.

        My dad was an engineer (and a genius), and as it turned out, he spoke fluent Latin. But I only discovered that when I was something like 40 years old. He didn’t speak Latin around the house, and didn’t (to my knowledge) use Latin when speaking to people that didn’t speak Latin. I guess he didn’t feel the need to impress people or try to lend an artificial façade of mystery to what he needed to say. The guy never even mentioned that he spoke Latin (never mentioned that he was a genius, either). To my embarrassment, I had to find that out from someone else.

        Meanwhile, back on topic: The courts of America are open to the public (unless regarding in camera episodes or sealed documents or FISA) and the Language spoken is usually English (at least during my lifetime), so breaking into unnecessary passages of Latin is about as appropriate as shifting gears into Aramaic.

      2. Oh, George, I like you, but pleeeeeze stop the Vattel Stuff. Go to his book,and read about 2 paragraphs down, where Vattel specifically states that England does things differently, relying on the place of birth for citizenship. That is probably because England is an island, while France is surrounded by numerous other countries, where it is easy for people to cross the borders.

        Squeeky Fromm
        Girl Reporter

        1. Squeeky, allow me to clarify the confusion over an ineligible imposter who will never be a “natural born citizen” of America:

          The U.S. Constitution, Article 1, Section 2, Clause 5, requires the President to be a “natural born citizen,” which, by definition in the Law of Nations, requires “parents who are citizens” at the time of birth of the candidate and must be “…born of a father who is a citizen;…”

          Ben Franklin thanked Charles Dumas for the Law of Nations which “…has been continually in the hands of the members of our Congress, now sitting,…”

          The Jay/Washington letter of July, 1787, raised the presidential requirement from citizen to “natural born citizen” to place a “strong check” against foreign allegiances by the commander-in-chief.

          Every American President before Obama had two parents who were American citizens.

          Law of Nations, Vattel, 1758
          Book 1, Ch. 19

          § 212. Citizens and natives.

          “The citizens are the members of the civil society; bound to this society by certain duties, and subject to its authority, they equally participate in its advantages.
          The natives, or natural-born citizens, are those born in the country, of parents who are citizens. As the society cannot exist and perpetuate itself otherwise than
          by the children of the citizens, those children naturally follow the condition of their fathers, and succeed to all their rights. The society is supposed to desire this,
          in consequence of what it owes to its own preservation; and it is presumed, as matter of course, that each citizen, on entering into society, reserves to his children
          the right of becoming members of it. The country of the fathers is therefore that of the children; and these become true citizens merely by their tacit consent.
          We shall soon see whether, on their coming to the years of discretion, they may renounce their right, and what they owe to the society in which they were born.
          I say, that, in order to be of the country, it is necessary that a person be born of a father who is a citizen; for, if he is born there of a foreigner, it will be only the
          place of his birth, and not his country.”

          Ben Franklin letter December 9, 1775, thanking Charles Dumas for 3 copies of the Law of Nations:

          “…I am much obliged by the kind present you have made us of your edition of Vattel. It came to us in good season, when the circumstances
          of a rising state make it necessary frequently to consult the law of nations. Accordingly that copy, which I kept, (after depositing
          one in our own public library here, and sending the other to the College of Massachusetts Bay, as you directed,) has been continually
          in the hands of the members of our Congress, now sitting, who are much pleased with your notes and preface, and have entertained a
          high and just esteem for their author…”

          To George Washington from John Jay, 25 July 1787

          From John Jay

          New York 25 July 1787

          Dear Sir

          I was this morning honored with your Excellency’s Favor of the 22d
          Inst: & immediately delivered the Letter it enclosed to Commodore
          Jones, who being detained by Business, did not go in the french Packet,
          which sailed Yesterday.

          Permit me to hint, whether it would not be wise & seasonable to
          provide a strong check to the admission of Foreigners into the
          administration of our national Government, and to declare

          expressly that the Command in chief of the american army shall not be given to, nor devolved on, any but a natural born Citizen.

          Mrs Jay is obliged by your attention, and assures You of her perfect
          Esteem & Regard—with similar Sentiments the most cordial and sincere
          I remain Dear Sir Your faithful Friend & Servt

          John Jay

      3. Say what you will. But Classical Philosophy and the New Testament were “conducted” in classical Greek and koine Greek, respectively.

        That doesn’t mean much, because all are dead languages today. The point: English is the world’s language today. That’s how we communicate. Leave it be.

    2. W. Bayer,..
      – I don’t mind the Latin terms as much as the medical jargon, and especially the pharmaceutical names for new ( and existing) drugs.
      It’s like they packed one truck filled with Latin names, and truck filled with Greek names, and used the pieces of a head-on collison between the two trucks to make up names.

    3. William Bayer – you threw away a perfectly good book because you were not multi-lingual. That makes sense. 😉

      1. Well, I also tossed the book because I knew plenty of hipsters back in college who (from what I gathered from the book before tossing it) had been imitating Miller instead of living their own lives. I have the same problem with Jack Kerouac and others — people whose work perhaps captures their own generation but which, in my opinion, is dated, hasn’t survived the test of time, and was probably vastly overrated in its own era. Maybe to put things in perspective I should mention that I’ve also never understood why anyone would like the movie, Gone With the Wind. I love movies — especially Hollywood classics — but how anyone can stay awake through 15 minutes of Gone With the Wind has always been, and remains, a mystery to me. It could only be worse if every ten minutes or so the characters started speaking French for no apparent reason.

        That aside, I guess I just don’t care much for discovering that the guy I’m reading isn’t even trying to talk to ME.

        Pick a language and write in THAT language. It’s the same sort of gripe I have when I read, for instance, an article in the NYT where the writer refers to “African Americans” in one paragraph and then goes on to talk about “blacks” in another. Pick one, not both. In architectural design, the concept is called “continuity.”

        If Miller couldn’t figure that out, he didn’t know much about writing. That’s my opinion, and I can live with it. My first job (1968, age 15 with underage work permit in hand) was in a library, and if I learned nothing else from that experience, it’s that there are more great books out there than I could read if I lived to be 300 years old. Why would I want to waste my time reading a book which, after building to a point, presents that point in a language that I don’t speak? That’s a rhetorical question.

        I suppose it should go without saying that if I’d found anything remotely interesting about Miller’s French connection, I’d probably have stuck with it. As it is, Tropic of Cancer has the distinction of being one of only three books I’ve never finished after starting. One of the others is Rand’s The Fountainhead. The third I’ve forgotten completely. Mind you, there are some pretty crappy books that I nevertheless read through to the end. Generally, I make a commitment when I start a book and stick with it. Maybe that’s the best way to describe my opinion of Miller and Rand and someone else.

        1. William Bayer – I am currently taking a Great Course on Great Authors of Western Civilization. Roughly one author per lecture. I just finished the first kit Ancient through Medieval literature. Surprisingly, the only writer I had not read was Pindar. Pick up kit 2 on Saturday.

          Miller is an interesting author. I had a friend who started rereading it about 6 months ago. Do not have a progress report. However, taste is personal. 😉

          1. I don’t recall but wasn’t Miller degrading the capitalist pigs in America while screwing every prostitute he could find and borrowing money to do so? He would be under indictment today if he were alive because he roomed for a while with a Russian. Yes, Paris is far better than America at least for wayward Henry.

          2. I’ll leave Miller alone for a while — snoring away peacefully in the trash while sleeping off a drunken binge — and merely mention that if your great course on great authors of Western Civilization includes any mention of Ayn Rand, I would recommend that you ask for your money back. If I had a time machine, I’d assemble a squad of assassins to accompany me back in time — not to hunt for Ayn Rand but to hunt for whoever it was that sold her her first typewriter.

            Taste is personal — you’re right about that — however there ARE some principles involved that transcend taste related to all creative enterprises. For instance, a building can be beautiful, but if it blows over in the wind it’s a BAD building by definition.

            Tropic of Cancer should come with a warning label — that it’s an English language book wherein the author inexplicably breaks into unnecessary passages of French. Without that warning label, I feel that my grievance is justified.

            When I read The Grapes of Wrath, it immediately became one of my favorite books — and that wouldn’t have happened if Tom Joad or the Preacher had a habit of suddenly conversing in untranslated Portuguese.

            When I read Don Quixote, it also became a favorite of mine — even though it was written in Castilian. That’s because the publisher didn’t expect me to understand Castilian and presented an English interpretation.

            1. William Bayer – I am not sure where this Great Course ends, I am on Moliere right now. Racine is next. We are doing Tartuffe. I think the Tropic of Cancer is an acquired taste and you are never going to acquire it. 😉 Taste is personal. We sure as heck cannot read everything. 🙂 And we can’t like everything.

              1. There are some very famous writers that have been more influential than other by virtue of having inspired more people to stop reading than to start or continue reading.
                The average English teacher knows more than most people about books, but also knows more than most people about getting youngsters to never want to read a book again for the rest of their lives.
                Oddly, neither those famous writers nor average English teachers ever seem to take credit for that talent.

                1. William Bayer – as an above average English teacher, I can tell you that some authors are more difficult to deal with than others. Some take very careful preparation of the students before you start the work. Shakespeare is poorly taught in high school and even in college. Shakespeare was meant to be seen and heard, not read. If you are going to do Romeo and Juliet, you should at least show a DVD of one of the versions to the class before you start dissecting the play, so the students know where the play is going. Same with any other play.

      2. ps. Not speaking French doesn’t mean that I’m not multi-lingual. I suppose it does mean that I’m not omni-lingual. English is a language. Math is a language. And per Wucius Wong, even vision is a language (and that’s probably the language I speak best of all). Check out Wong’s “visual vocabulary” before criticizing me for not wanting to waste time learning Miller’s French.

        1. William Bayer – I am mono-lingual so I have no excuse, but I know some phrases in several different languages and know enough Spanish to know when to duck. With Miller, if I did not understand the phrase, I had a French-English dictionary that I could look it up in (I was living at home and my mother had taken French) or I just ignored it and moved on.

          Sorry, I should have been more precise and said you did not read French rather than you were not multi-lingual.

          1. Maybe you hit the nail on the head there. When I tried to read Tropic of Cancer, it was on a camping trip. Before going camping I usually visit Half-Priced Books and load up on reading material. Didn’t have my laptop. Didn’t think to buy or bring a French dictionary. Shouldn’t have been necessary.
            And the tack of continuity I mentioned earlier could have been partially remedied by a simple footnote at the bottom of the page explaining what the “author” thought he was talking about. But that was absent.

            It all brings to mind the passage from Julius Caesar:

            CASSIUS: Did Cicero say anything?
            CASCA: Ay, he spoke Greek.
            CASSIUS: To what effect?
            CASCA: Nay, an I tell you that, I’ll ne’er look you i’ th’ face again. But those that understood him smiled at one another and shook their heads. But, for mine own part, it was Greek to me.

  2. Isn’t it amazing that Hollywood makes a movie staring Tom Hanks and Merril Streep, being courageous news media professionals who are willing to go to jail for releasing hidden government information. Now The Washington Post doesn’t want the 4 page document released because the public doesn’t need to know the contents. I guess it all depends on who’s bull is being gored.

    1. I think it’s because the Pentagon Papers weren’t about a president collaborating with his consigliere to write a spurious memo in order to justify firing his deputy AG in order to destroy an investigation into himself, his family, and his campaign/administration about their involvement with a foreign enemy interfering in our electoral process [and other associated crimes].

      And the expression is: whose ox is being gored. And her name is spelled Meryl Streep.

      The truth is these are not very bright guys and things got out of hand – Deep Throat in All the President’s Men

      1. Thank God for “Affirmative Action Privilege”.

        We get our fair share of abuse…and incoherence and hysteria.

        The American birthrate is in a “death spiral”. In 100 years, there won’t be an American left in America.

        Women have important work to do – bear and nurture a population sufficient to grow the population and

        defend the nation.

        As the 21st amendment repealed the 18th, end the incoherence and hysteria.

        Repeal the 19th amendment.

        Make America Great Again!

      2. Rachel:
        Meryl Streep as oxen? I always pictured her as more porcine, but I do like the bovine visual. Munching away on some cud as she moos out the latest AntiAmerican or pro-Weinstein screed. Gracias.

    2. That is a most excellent point! But it is typical for Democrats. It was the same with the McCarthy Era “blacklisting” in Hollywood. The same with Free Speech, where they were once all for it, and now all against it. That is because they have no inner compass, no basic morality. They will say anything that helps them win votes and stay in power. Something I have said a hundred or more times, here:

      Expecting logical consistency, morality, truth, or principles from Democrats
      is like expecting fair play from a bad, cheating, metal-folding-chair-using
      wrestler. If you ask the bad wrestler if he feels bad for whomping the good
      wrestler over the head with a folding metal chair when the referee wasn’t
      looking, he will not have a clue what you are talking about. All he cares
      about is that he has the Championship Belt.

      It is the same with Democrats. They will say anything or do anything to win.
      Nothing else matters.

      Squeeky Fromm
      Girl Reporter

      1. They are communists with the motto: The ends justify the means.

        They will do anything to impose the “dictatorship of the proletariat”;

        such as strike once a month like the lazy, greedy, striking teachers unions

        who then pass on the strike benefits to all other public employees as “comparable pay”.

      2. Haha. Insert pot and kettle thingy here.

        this is to “I love me some straw-men” squeeKKK

  3. Darren, in order to be on the Internet one has to pay a provider and then one can create their own email addresses. I don’t think that is what you are talking about. I know there are some ‘designer’ email services around, but I am not sure how good any of them are.

    Can you provide more information and what email servers do you believe are trustworthy?

  4. I heard on the internet that one change involved Lindsey Graham. He had been referred to as Lindsey Graham Cracker and then the last word was deleted.

  5. The “Deep State” Feminazi Gaystapo ordered Reichsführer Rosenstein to appoint Obergruppenführer Mueller to destroy the duly elected President Trump through impeachment, not only for ideological purposes but also to misdirect Americans and shield the entire Obama governmental structure. The Obergruppenführer Mueller “Russia Investigation” is illegal, illegitimate and totally corrupt. Reichsführer Rosenstein did not have “…evidence of a crime and articulable facts” when he appointed the special prosecutor.

    The shadow government coup d’etat in America will fail and…

    all roads lead to Obama.


    2. tinfoil sale down to the Piggly Wiggly.

      this is to “I can only play this one song” georgie – paulie

      1. Marky Mark Mark – even Piggly Wiggly only sells aluminum foil, you twit.

  6. This seems like a very simple problem to solve. Just submit the original memo (as voted on) for release. The corrected memo could be withdrawn.
    However, this feels like a delay/obfuscation tactic more than anything else. It would be nice to publish both memos side-by-side, so the public can judge the veracity of Schiff’s claim.

    1. Dumb. So you want two republican memos released? Maybe try something that would actually be honest and transparent, like releasing the democrat’s memo at the same time. But this isn’t about honesty and transparency at all, as anyone with an IQ over 80 knows.

      What a bunch of liars and crooks the GOP is.

      1. Yes, release two memos to assess Schiff’s veracity. My guess he is being disingenuous.
        Yes, release Dem memo. Just subject it to the same process as the Nunez memo.
        Attacking others’ intelligence is not a very convincing argument.

  7. I see that the echo chamber is in full stride today. Well, you all keep telling yourselves that the world is flat. Just like trickle down, it might work this time.

  8. Where’s the beef? Does the government work for us or do we work for the government? I know, I know, correction: Is the government supposed to work for us or are we supposed to work for the government? Not that simple? How about, should we be concerned that our government may be actively working to undermine the rights of our citizens? Should we demand transparency on this issue in whatever means necessary to confirm our government is securing our rights and not infringing upon them?

    Those are basic questions every citizen should easily answer. If you find yourself in any way trying to defend those in our government opposed to releasing any information that would bring transparency on how government is/is not securing rights, then you should have no expectation for a just government.

    Release every memo, every document, all versions, and let’s debate all of it in the public square. We’ll see what shenanigans (if any) are there and make up our own minds. Of course all of that assumes one is concerned far more with the means of government and not the ends.

    1. Sure, let’s reveal confidential and classified information “in the public square.” I’m sure the Russians (and others) will kindly avert their eyes and ears.

      this is to “national security takes a back seat when the noose is closing in on the racist in chief” squeeKKK

      1. Marky Mark Mark – the FISC submitted a 23-page report (redacted) of problems with the FBI and private contractors. Trump is the final arbiter of what is secret. If he releases the memo, then it is Katy bar the door.

    2. Olly asked, ” How about, should we be concerned that our government may be actively working to undermine the rights of our citizens?”

      The citizen at issue is Carter Page. The FBI had a FISA warrant on Carter Page in 2014. It’s probable that the intelligence gathered on Carter Page in 2014 corroborated the portion of the dossier that referred to Carter Page. It’s also probable that the disclosure of the intelligence that corroborates the portion of the dossier that referred to Carter Page would damage the national security of The United States of America. Therefore, it is most improbable that that corroborating intelligence will be declassified and publically disclosed. And The POTUS, Trump, is the absolute last person on earth who will declassify any intelligence that corroborates anything in the dossier. Oddly enough, The POTUS Trump is, for the time being, the only person on earth who could declassify the intelligence that corroborates anything in the dossier.

      But then there is still Robert Swan Mueller The Third who will not be deterred.

      1. L4D,…
        Do you have a basis for claiming “it’s probable” that confirming the 2014 intel gathered about Page would damage national security?
        It may or may not eventually be released, so we might never find out for sure.
        Do you know what information the Russian Dossier has about Page?
        I haven’t read the dossier, butvmaybe it’s now available in full form online.
        It’s interesting that the FBI surveillance on Carter Page and Paul Manafort started for both on 2014.
        I don’t think that Page has been charged with any criminal violations….Manafort and Gates obviously have been charged.
        None of the charges directly relate to their roles on the Trump campaign, and it looks like many of the charges go back to evidence collected as far back as 2014.
        That brings up the question of whether the FBI decided to act on older evidence only after those charged were associated with the Trump campaign, or would the charges have been filed over that time frame in ang case.
        That same question may come up in relation to Trump; if Trump is ultimately charged with something that occurred 5 or 10 or 15 years ago, would the lag between the time alleged crime was committed and charges filed be explained because prosecutors became interested in prosecution only after Trump was elected.
        We’re obviously both speculating at this stage. The scenario that I laid out is speculative, and I think that your claims of “it’s probable” are speculative as well.

Comments are closed.