Trump will not release Democrats’ memo on FBI surveillance

 Trump will not immediately release Democrats’ memo on surveillance

President Trump directed the Justice Department on Feb. 9 to work with House lawmakers so some form of the document could be made public.

President Trump will not immediately agree to release a Democratic memo rebutting GOP claims that the FBI abused its surveillance authority as it probed Russian meddling in the 2016 election, but he has directed the Justice Department to work with lawmakers so some form of the document could be made public, the White House counsel said Friday night.

In a letter to the House Intelligence Committee, White House counsel Donald McGahn wrote that the Justice Department had identified portions of the Democrats’ memo that it believed “would create especially significant concerns for the national security and law enforcement interests” if disclosed. McGahn included in his note a letter from Deputy Attorney General Rod J. Rosenstein and FBI Director Christopher A. Wray supporting that claim.

The decision stands in contrast to one Trump made last week on a Republican memo alleging the FBI misled the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court to obtain a warrant to surveil a former Trump campaign adviser, Carter Page. After the House Intelligence Committee voted on a Monday to make that document public, Trump authorized its release swiftly on a Friday afternoon.

The process had been largely the same for the Democratic rebuttal. The committee voted on Monday to release the document, and it was sent to Trump’s desk for approval. But this time, the president waited until the evening, informing Capitol Hill of his decision via his White House counsel around 7:30 p.m.

Rep. Adam B. Schiff (D-Calif.) on Feb. 5 said the House Intelligence Committee voted to release Democrats’ response to a GOP memo alleging surveillance abuses.

The committee had earlier voted along party lines against releasing both the Democratic and Republican memos at the same time.

McGahn wrote in his letter that Trump was “inclined to declassify” the Democrats’ memo, but given its sensitive passages, he was “unable to do so.” McGahn wrote that the president had instructed the Justice Department to work with Congress to mitigate those risks.

“I’m not surprised,” said Rep. Jim Himes (D-Conn.) in a statement. “Those on the side of truth don’t fear transparency.”

Senate Minority Leader Charles E. Schumer (D-N.Y.) said in a statement: “The President’s double standard when it comes to transparency is appalling. The rationale for releasing the Nunes memo, transparency, vanishes when it could show information that’s harmful to him. Millions of Americans are asking one simple question: what is he hiding?” The Nunes memo refers to the GOP memo, which was produced by the staff of Rep. Devin Nunes (R-Calif.).

 

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