Trump will not declassify Democrats’ current memo, White House says
President Trump will not declassify the memo from Democrats on the House Intelligence Committee as it currently is written, the White House announced in a letter Friday night. The Democrats’ memo is a rebuttal to the GOP memo about surveillance of a former Trump campaign official is expected to be released soon.
“Although the president is inclined to declassify the Feb. 5th memorandum, because the memorandum contains numerous properly classified and especially sensitive passages, he is unable to do so at this time,” the letter from White House counsel Don McGahn to Devin Nunes, chairman of the House Intelligence Committee, reads.
The White House letter said Justice Department officials will be available to help “should the committee wish to revise the February 5th memorandum to mitigate the risks identified by the department.”
Democrats had concerns with the GOP memo over sensitive information as well, but the president declassified that. Some Republicans have claimed the Democratic memo involved more substantial information about law enforcement sources and methods.
On Friday, the president met with FBI Director Christopher Wray, the principal associate deputy attorney general and the White House counsel’s office to discuss the Democratic memo, according to the White House. The president was given five days to oppose the release of the Democratic memo, after the House Intelligence Committee voted to release it earlier this week.
Republicans on the House Intelligence Committee had initially opposed the release of the Democratic memo, even as they voted to release the Republican-crafted memo.
The four-page GOP memo, released last week, argues that FBI surveillance of former Trump campaign official Carter Page was authorized in part because of claims in the unverified Trump dossier authored by former British intelligence agent Christopher Steele. The memo claims that FBI Deputy Director Andrew McCabe testified before the House Intelligence Committee in December 2017 that no surveillance warrant would have been sought without the Steele dossier information. But there is no direct quote from McCabe’s (behind-closed-doors) testimony about the use of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA).
Mr. Trump claimed that memo “totally vindicates ‘Trump,'” even though some Republicans like Rep. Trey Gowdy, the only Republican on the House Intelligence Committee to have actually seen the FISA applications, said the memo has nothing to do with the Russia probe.