WASHINGTON – Citing national security concerns, the White House on Friday formally reported to the House intelligence committee that President Donald Trump is “not” to declassify a memo drawn up by Democrats that counters the GOP allegations about the misuse of the government surveillance powers to the FBI, Russia probe.
White House counsel Don McGahn said in a letter to the commission that the memo contains “many well-classified and especially sensitive passages” and asked the intelligence panel to review the memo with the assistance of the Ministry of Justice. He said Trump is still “inclined” to the memo in the interest of transparency as changes are made.
The president of the rejection of the Democratic memo is in contrast to his enthusiastic embrace of the letting go of the Republican document, which he promised to read to make it public. The president released the document last week, which on its publication in full over the objections of the Ministry of Justice.
The top Democrat on the intelligence panel, California Rep. Adam Schiff, a critical Asset for the treatment of the two documents are different, says the president is now seeking revisions of the same commission that the original Republican memo. Still, Schiff said Democrats “look forward to consult with the agencies to determine how we can properly inform the American people about the misleading attack on enforcement of the law by the GOP and address all of the concerns about sources and methods.”
Trump has said that the GOP memo “vindicates” him in the ongoing Russia investigation conducted by special counsel Robert Mueller. But congressional Democrats and the Republicans, including the House of representatives Paul Ryan and Rep. Trey Gowdy of South Carolina, who helped draft the GOP memo, said it should not be used for the undermining of the special council.
Earlier Friday, White House spokesman Raj Shah had Trump was discussing the Democratic document with the White House counsel’s office, FBI-Director Christopher Wray and other top Justice official.
The president had until Saturday to decide whether the classified material to the public, after the House intelligence committee voted Monday to release. Republicans supported release of the memo, the commission voted unanimously, but a number said that they thought that it would have to be redacted. Ryan also said that he thought that the Democratic document should be released.
In declining to declassify the document, the White House sent lawmakers a letter signed by the Deputy Attorney-General, Rod Rosenstein, and Wray, as well as a signed copy of the memo, where the sharing of opinion, too sensitive to make public. Among these passages, that the Justice said could compromise intelligence sources and methods, ongoing investigations and national security if disclosed.
Democrats who wrote the memo say disputes many of the claims in the GOP memo, accused the FBI and Justice Department are abusing their surveillance powers to obtain a secret warrant to monitor former Trump campaign foreign policy advisor to Carter Page.
The White House message caps a week in which the Republicans and Democrats in the european commission have publicly fought out, with the panel now, the construction of a wall to separate warring Republican and Democratic staff members who have long sat next to each other.
The disagreements have escalated in the past year, as Democrats have charged that Republicans do not take the panel’s examination of Russian elections interfere seriously enough. They say that the GOP memo, led by chairman Devin Nunes, R-Calif., is designed as a distraction from the probe, which is looking for or Trump’s campaign was in any way connected to the Russian interference.
Trump released the GOP-authored memo on the objections of the FBI, which said it had “serious concerns” about the document of the accuracy.
In the Nunes’ memo, Republicans took aim at the FBI and the Department of Justice about the use of the information of the former British spy Christopher Steele in obtaining a warrant to monitor Page under the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act, or FISA. The main complaint was that the FBI and the Department of Justice, it does not tell the court enough about Steele’s anti-Trump bias or that his work was funded by Hillary Clinton’s campaign and the Democratic National Committee.
They argued that the dependence of Steele material amounted to an improper politicization of the government surveillance powers.
The democrats countered that the GOP memo was incorrect and misleading collection of “cherry-picked” details.
They noted that the federal law enforcement officials was aware of the court about the political origins of Steele’s work and that some of the former spy of the information was confirmed by the FBI. They also noted that there is other evidence to the court in addition to Steele information, though they have not specified data.
The Democratic memo is expected to elaborate on these points.
House Republicans who have seen the document, had said portions will almost certainly be redacted to protect intelligence sources and methods. Earlier this week, the White House officials said the Democratic memo would go through the same national security and legal scrutiny as the Republican document. But White House chief of staff John Kelly hinted at a possible redactions, said the Democratic version is ‘not as clean’ as the GOP’s.
Rep. Adam Schiff of California, the ranking Democrat on the House intelligence committee, has said he will be scrutinizing the process on the foot. His office has no immediate comment Friday on the White House message.
Associated Press writer Jill Colvin contributed to this report.
Read the letter: http://apne.ws/OeAhbxf
Follow Chad Day and Mary Clare Jalonick on Twitter: https://www.twitter.com/ChadSDay and https://www.twitter.com/MCJalonick