February 18, 2019

Trump orders Democrats to rewrite memo claiming it's 'too long & political'

11 February 2018, 03:45 | Devin Moran

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President Donald Trump on Saturday tweeted a brief explanation for why he rejected the request to declassify a Democratic memo from the House Intelligence Committee.

In a letter to House Intelligence Committee Chairman Devin Nunes, R-Calif., the White House said it could not release the Democrats' memo because the Justice Department "has identified portions.which it believes would create especially significant concerns for the national security and law enforcement interests".

The Republican memo portrays the Russian Federation investigation as a product of political bias at the FBI and Justice Department against Trump.

Citing national security concerns, the White House notified the House Intelligence Committee on Friday that the president was "unable" to declassify the Democratic memo.

Democrats called the Nunes memo biased and misleading and said it comprised cherry-picked information from the documentation of one part of the investigation into Russia's role in the 2016 US presidential election. Some Republicans have claimed the Democratic memo involved more substantial information about law enforcement sources and methods.

Nunes said in a statement that "Intelligence Committee Republicans encourage the minority to accept the DOJ's recommendations and make the appropriate technical changes and redactions so that no sources and methods are disclosed and their memo can be declassified as soon as possible".

The Democratic memo is expected to elaborate on these points.

As noted by Cortney, this move irked many Democrats who criticized the White House's lack of transparency.

Democrats say their memo contains corrections to errors and omissions in the Republican document.

Sen. Chuck Schumer of NY, the top Senate Democrat, said bluntly, "Millions of Americans are asking one simple question: What is he hiding?"

The FBI suspected that Page, a former investment banker based in Moscow who had previously been under investigation, was acting as a Russian agent.

He said Trump was still "inclined" to release the memo in the interest of transparency if revisions are made.

Rep. Adam Schiff of California, the ranking Democrat on the House intelligence committee, has said he will be scrutinizing the process closely.

"The President's decision to block the Democratic memo from release is part of a unsafe and desperate pattern of cover-up on the part of the President, " she said. Schiff and other Democrats say the Republicans are trying to undermine the Mueller inquiry.

On Tuesday, Kelly told reporters that Trump hadn't yet read the 10-page Democratic rebuttal because it's "quite lengthy".

White House counsel Don McGahn says in a letter to the committee that the memo contains "numerous properly classified and especially sensitive passages" and asked the intelligence panel to revise the memo with the help of the Justice Department.

The Nunes memo alleged that senior DOJ officials inappropriately relied on the research, paid for in part by Hillary Clinton, to obtain a surveillance warrant on Trump campaign aide Carter Page. "Ranking Member Schiff pledged to seek the input of the Department of Justice and Federal Bureau of Investigation regarding the memo's public release, and it's no surprise that these agencies recommended against publishing the memo without redactions".

In response, Schiff told Bloomberg News, "That's their spin", referring to Republicans.

"So, I'm not surprised they would like to see some omitted from our response", he added.

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