March 22, 2018

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

10 February 2018, 08:37 | Taylor George


Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein is recommending to the White House how much of a secret countermemo by intelligence committee Democrats should become public this week

Meanwhile, Trump also blamed Democrats for setting him up for criticism for refusing to release a classified Democratic memo written to rebut a Republican document accusing the Federal Bureau of Investigation of conducting surveillance for political purposes.

"Although the President is inclined to declassify the February 5th [Democratic] Memorandum, because the Memorandum contains numerous properly classified and especially sensitive passages, he is unable to do so at this time", White House counsel Donald McGahn wrote in a letter to Rep. Devin Nunes, R-Calif., chair of the House intelligence committee.

The president alleged that the Democrats knew the memo would have to be heavily redacted and said they would use that as evidence of a "lack of transparency" in the White House.

Then he became the subject of an ethics investigation after he traveled to the White House, examined classified information provided to him by Trump administration aides, and disclosed the information in a clumsy attempt to validate the president's false claims that his phone was tapped by then-Preisdent Obama during the 2016 campaign.

The White House also released a letter sent to McGahn by Wray and to Rod Rosenstein, the No. 2 Justice Department official, expressing concerns about the memo's release "in light of longstanding principles regarding the protection of intelligence sources and methods, ongoing investigations, and other similar sensitive information".

"Blocking its release, and not the Republican one, is clearly a partisan move to muddy the facts, deceive the American public, and distract from Special Counsel Mueller's Russian Federation investigation", said Rep. Joaquin Castro (D-TX), a member of the House Intelligence Committee.

Nunes's memo claims that this surveillance was not properly vetted by the court; specifically, that it relied on the now-infamous Steele dossier, the document prepared by former British spy Christopher Steele alleging widespread collusion betweenTrump and the Russian government.

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House Intelligence Committee Chairman Devin Nunes, R-Calif., who produced the GOP memo, encouraged Democrats to accept the Justice Department's recommendations and "make the appropriate technical changes and redactions". "And now the Democrats are doing their memo, and we're in memo hell".

Last week, Republicans on the House Intelligence Committee voted to release the so-called "Nunes memo".

Rep. Justin Amash, R-Mich., also tweeted that he had seen both the Democratic and Republican memos, that neither is damaging to national security and that the Democratic response should be released. But with the objection to the Democratic memo, there is a procedure available to the House to override the objection and make it public anyway.

Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., blasted Trump's decision, saying the president's "double standard when it comes to transparency is appalling".

After Schiff challenged Trump's claim, the president lashed out on Twitter, calling him "Little Adam Schiff" and accusing him, without presenting any evidence, of leaving "closed committee hearings to illegally leak confidential information".

The surveillance warrant application itself remains under tight seal. It is said to indicate that the court was made aware of the political motivations behind the information provided by Steele, but that specific Democratic organizations were not identified. The New York Times has filed a motion asking the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court to unseal all materials related to the wiretap. "Any minor redactions should be made as quickly as possible and the memo should be released". Oversight might be some of the limited power the Republicans could have in a House under Democrats' control.

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