WASHINGTON — Republicans on the House Intelligence Committee, disregarding Justice Department warnings that their actions would be “extraordinarily reckless,” voted Monday evening to release a contentious secret memorandum said to accuse the department and the F.B.I. of misusing their authority to obtain a secret surveillance order on a former Trump campaign associate.
The vote, made along party lines, threw fuel on an already fiery partisan conflict over the investigations into Russia’s brazen meddling in the 2016 presidential election. Republicans invoked a power never before used by the secretive committee to effectively declassify the memo that they had compiled. It was an extraordinary maneuver, cheered on by President Trump, who has repeatedly dismissed the Russia investigation as a “witch hunt” and a sham.
Committee Republicans said the memo’s release would shed useful light on potential political bias that may have warped the early stages of the Russia investigation without compromising intelligence gathering. Representative K. Michael Conaway of Texas, a senior Republican on the committee, said on Monday that he was confident the Republican memo itself would not present a national security risk and was complete and fair as written.
Democrats called the three-and-a-half-page document a dangerous effort to build a narrative to undercut the department’s continuing Russia investigation, using cherry-picked facts assembled with little or no context. Speaking to reporters after the closed-door vote, Representative Adam B. Schiff of California, the committee’s top Democrat, said Republicans had voted “to politicize the intelligence process.”
“Sadly, we expect that the president of the United States will not put the national interest over his own personal interest,” Mr. Schiff said. “But it is a sad day indeed when that is also true of our own committee.”
Mr. Schiff said the committee had opened new avenues to investigate the Justice Department and F.B.I., a characterization disputed by Mr. Conaway.
What comes next was less clear. Under the obscure House rule invoked by the committee, Mr. Trump now has five days to review the document and decide whether to try to block it from going public. The White House has repeatedly indicated that it wants the memo out, but Mr. Trump’s Justice Department had been working to slow or block its release.
Shortly after Monday’s vote, the memo was taken to the White House, where it was being reviewed by White House lawyers, according to a person familiar with the review.
Voting as a bloc, Democrats tried to advance a series of motions on Monday that they said would help put the Republican memo in context. All but one of those motions failed along party lines. The committee did make a Democratic memo rebutting the Republican version available to the full House, but Republicans said they wanted time for members to review the document before considering its public release.
The Republican memo, which was made available to all members of the House, is said to contend that officials from the two agencies were not forthcoming to a Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court judge. Republicans accuse the agencies of not properly disclosing that the Democratic National Committee and Hillary Clinton’s 2016 presidential campaign helped finance research that was used to obtain a warrant for surveillance of Carter Page, a Trump campaign adviser. The research presented to the judge was assembled by a former British intelligence officer, Christopher Steele.
The memo is not limited to actions taken by the Obama administration, though. The New York Times reported on Sunday that the memo reveals that Deputy Attorney General Rod J. Rosenstein, a top Trump appointee, signed off an application to extend the surveillance of Mr. Page shortly after taking office last spring. The renewal shows that the Justice Department under Mr. Trump saw reason to believe that Mr. Page was acting as a Russian agent.
The inclusion of Mr. Rosenstein’s action in the memo could expose him to a torrent of criticism from Republicans on Capitol Hill and from conservatives in the news media who have seized on the surveillance to argue that the Russia investigation may have been tainted from the start. Mr. Rosenstein is overseeing that investigation because Attorney General Jeff Sessions recused himself. It was Mr. Rosenstein who appointed Robert S. Mueller III as special counsel.
Mr. Page, a former Moscow-based investment banker who went on to found a New York investment company, was on the F.B.I.’s radar for years. A trip he took to Russia in July 2016 while working for Mr. Trump’s campaign caught the bureau’s attention again, and by the fall of 2016, shortly after he left the campaign, American law enforcement officials began conducting surveillance on him.
To obtain the surveillance warrant, the government would have had to demonstrate probable cause that he was acting as an agent of Russia. Investigators must seek approval from the Justice Department for such a warrant, and then prosecutors take it to a surveillance court judge.
People familiar with the underlying application have portrayed the Republican memo as misleading in part, they say, because Mr. Steele’s information was insufficient to meet the standard for a FISA warrant. They said the application drew on other intelligence material that the Republican memo selectively omits. That other information remains highly sensitive, and releasing it would risk burning other sources and methods of intelligence-gathering about Russia.
Democrats tried unsuccessfully on Monday to push forward a motion for the F.B.I. and the Justice Department to brief the entire House in a private session on that material before the release of the Republican memo so that they could make a more informed judgment about its contents.
There is no known precedent for the Republicans’ action. Though House rules allow the Intelligence Committee to vote to disclose classified information if it is deemed to be in the public interest, the rule is not thought to have ever been used. Typically, lawmakers wishing to make public secretive information classified by the executive branch spend months, if not years, fighting with the White House and the intelligence community over what they can release.
Until this past weekend, the committee had refused to let anyone from the Justice Department or the F.B.I., who provided the materials underlying the memo, review it. Representative Devin Nunes of California relented on Sunday, allowing Christopher A. Wray, the F.B.I. director, to review the document. But Mr. Schiff said later in the day that Mr. Wray had conveyed to him that he still had concerns about its release.
In a letter last week to Mr. Nunes, the committee’s Republican chairman, Stephen E. Boyd, an assistant attorney general, said it would be “extraordinarily reckless” to release a memo drawing on classified information without official review. He said the department is “unaware of any wrongdoing related to the FISA process.”
Speaker Paul D. Ryan of Wisconsin largely stayed out of the dispute, deferring to Mr. Nunes and the committee on how to proceed.
Representative Nancy Pelosi of California, the Democratic leader, was not so circumspect.
“Clearly, House Republicans’ desire to protect President Trump has clouded their judgment and caused them to lose sight of what’s at stake: the security and integrity of our elections,” her office said in a statement.
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