The White House is pushing back after criticism from Democrats over President Donald Trump’s decision not to declassify a memo drafted in response to a Republican document he made public earlier this month.
Rep. Devin Nunes, who chairs the House Intelligence Committee, pushed to have the earlier memo released with the intention of exposing possible bias within the U.S. intelligence community.
The committee’s top Democrat, Rep. Adam Schiff, presented a 10-page response to his fellow Californian’s memo, which Trump said could not be released in its current form because it contained sensitive information.
In an appearance Monday on Fox News, White House deputy press secretary Hogan Gidley denounced what he called “liberal hypocrisy” on the issue.
“At the outset, they made the very clear point that anything released from this (Republican) memo would be devastating to national security,” he said. “Republicans could not do it. Then, when it came out, they said ‘Oh, we have to release our memo.’ Well, which is it? Is it hurting national security or isn’t it?”
According to Gidley, Democrats further demonstrated partisanship by voting to declassify the Schiff memo after previously voting to keep the Nunes memo sealed.
“They voted against the release of the Republican memo,” he said. “It was a vote along party lines. The Republicans voted unanimously to release the Democratic memo.”
The evidence, he asserted, makes it “very clear who’s playing politics with people’s lives.”
Trump decided to declassify the first document, Gidley said, because “it didn’t reveal sources and methods” used by the Department of Justice and the FBI.
The same could not be said for the Democratic memo, he claimed.
“This president refuses to put people’s lives at risk and play politics with national security,” Gidley said. “And that’s what the Democrats are doing here.”
Making it clear where the White House stands on the Schiff memo, he said its contents were too dangerous to be viewed by the general public.
“This report from the Democrats does not keep American lives safe,” he concluded. “What it does is it reveals serious national security information that could quite frankly put our lives at risk and the president is not going to do that.”
Trump indicated last week that he was inclined to release the second memo, but White House counsel Donald McGahn cited FBI and Justice Department concerns in his letter to the intelligence committee requesting a rewrite.
Schiff and others have accused the administration of double standards, noting that Trump released the Nunes memo over the concerns of the same federal agencies.
White House counselor Kellyanne Conway responded to such criticism in an interview Sunday on ABC’s “This Week.”
“The Democratic memo is much longer. It’s much more involved,” she said. “And those who are in a position to know national security and lawyers have said that it contains sources and methods that could be very compromising. So they want to make sure that that is cured before it is released to the public.”
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