Trump Blocks Democratic Counter-Memo Over "National Security Concerns"

President Trump declined to release the Democrat rebuttal to a GOP-authored "FISA memo," following the advice of the Department of Justice and the Director of National Intelligence, the White House announced.

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President Trump is "inclined to declassify" the Democratic memo, however there are several sections which would create "especially significant concerns" for "national security and law enforcement interests," wrote White House counsel Don McGahn in a letter to House Intelligence Committee chairman Devin Nunes (D-CA).

While the White House ignored FBI requests to redact the names in the GOP-authored memo, the Democratic response is said to reveal sources and methods which must be concealed. 

In a separate letter to FBI Director Christopher Wray and Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein, McGahn highlighted the problematic information. The White House says it will work with the House Intelligence Committee if it wants to revise the Democratic memo and resubmit it for White House review. 

“The president encourages the Committee to undertake these efforts,” the letter states. “The Executive Branch stands ready to review any subsequent draft of the Feb. 5th memorandum for declassification at the earliest opportunity.”

Democrats on the House Intel Committee can now make the requested changes, or submit their memo to the full house to seek a vote to override the President's decision. 

The House Intelligence Committee voted earlier this week to release the 10-page Democratic memo authored by ranking minority Committee member Rep. Adam Schiff (D-CA) following the declassification and public release of a four-page "FISA memo" authored by staffers for Chairman Devin Nunes.

In response to Trump blocking the Democratic rebuttal, Nunes said on Friday that he was not surprised that the DOJ and FBI advised against its release.

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Rep. Devin Nunes (R-CA)

"Ranking Member Schiff pledged to seek the input of the Department of Justice and FBI regarding the memo’s public release, and it’s no surprise that these agencies recommended against publishing the memo without redactions," said Nunes. 

Nunes suggested that the Democrats make the "appropriate technical changes and redactions" as recommended by the justice department "so that no sources and methods are disclosed and their memo can be declassified as soon as possible."

Democrats Cry Foul

After the GOP-authored memo was released, Democrats cried foul - calling it "inaccurate" and claiming its sole purpose was to derail and obstruct the ongoing investigations into Russian interference in the 2016 election. 

Democrats were outraged at the President's decision. In a Friday night statement, Schiff said that Democrats had provided their memo to the F.B.I. and the Justice Department for review before it was approved for release by the committee, and that the Democrat rebuttal was drawn from the same underlying documents as the Republican one.

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Rep. Adam Schiff (D-CA)

“We will be reviewing the recommended redactions from D.O.J. and F.B.I., which these agencies shared with the White House,” Mr. Schiff said, “and look forward to conferring with the agencies to determine how we can properly inform the American people about the misleading attack on law enforcement by the G.O.P. and address any concerns over sources and methods.”

Rep Terri Sewell - a Democratic member of the committee, tweeted: “Republicans and Democrats on the Intelligence Committee voted UNANIMOUSLY to release this memo. @realDonaldTrump is not interested in transparency, he is interested in protecting himself and derailing the Russia investigation."

Despite Democrats' anger, McGhan said - in addition to the fact that Trump was "inclined to declassify" the document - that “The executive branch stands ready to review any subsequent draft of the Feb. 5 memorandum for declassification at the earliest opportunity.” 

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