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?