President Donald Trump has decided not to release the Democratic response to the memo released last week that outlines Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act abuses.
The rebuttal 10-page memo was sent back to the House Intelligence Committee for alterations, according to CNN.
“The Department has identified portions of the February 5th Memorandum the disclosure of which it believes would create especially significant concerns for the national security and law enforcement interests,” White House counsel Donald McGahn said in the letter to the House Intelligence Committee. “The enclosed letter from the Deputy Attorney General and the Director of the Federal Bureau of Investigation explains these determinations in greater detail.”
The committee voted unanimously last week to release the Democrat memo, and Trump had the final say on whether it was to be declassified or not.
“Although the President is inclined to declassify the February 5th Memorandum, because the Memorandum contains numerous properly classified and especially sensitive passages, he is unable to do so at this time,” McGahn continued.
He added. “However, given the public interest in transparency in these unprecedented circumstances, the President has directed that Justice Department personnel be available to give technical assistance to the Committee, should the Committee wish to revise the February 5th Memorandum to mitigate the risks identified by the Department.”
McGahn said that Trump “encourages the Committee to undertake these efforts” so the memo can be released to the public.
Rep. Adam Schiff wrote the response to House Intelligence Chairman Devin Nunes’ memo. He and other Democrats say that the Republican memo left out key facts.
“The Democratic response sets out the material facts that were necessary for the public to see that the FBI acted properly in seeking a FISA warrant on Carter Page,” Schiff said, according to CNN. “After promising to treat the Democratic response in precisely the same way, the White House now seeks to have the Democratic memo sent back to committee and revised by the same Majority that produced the flawed Nunes document to begin with.”
The letter from Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein and FBI Director Christopher Wray that was included with the letter to the committee detailing the president’s decision to not release the memo said that they had identified information that “would have national security or law enforcement concerns if released publicly.”
“Along with other Intelligence Committee Republicans, I had warned that the Democratic memo contains many sources and methods,” Nunes said. “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. 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.”
CNN reported that “a vote of the full House after a rare debate in closed session for the full chamber” would override the president’s objection and release the memo.
Rep. Trey Gowdy, R-S.C., posited that Shiff inserted sensitive information in his FISA memo knowing the Trump administration would have to make redactions purely, so he could score political points against the president.
Gowdy, who is chairman of House Oversight and Government Reform Committee and a member of the House Intelligence Committee, also strongly implied Clinton confidant Sidney Blumenthal played a key role in feeding information to the State Department that was used to justify the FISA warrant to surveil the Trump campaign.
“I think the Democrats are politically smart enough to put things in the memo that require either the (FBI) or the Justice Department to say it needs to be (redacted),” Gowdy told Fox News anchor Martha MacCallum on Tuesday night. “Therefore, it creates this belief that there’s something being hidden from the American people.”
“Keep in mind this is the same crowd that voted not to release our memo and voted not to gain a lot of this information over the last 12 months,” he added. “Unfortunately, we’re in an environment where you would include material that you know has to be redacted, and you know responsible people you know are doing to redact it just show that question will be asked.”
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