March 22, 2018

Trump won't declassify Democratic memo on Russia probe without revisions

10 February 2018, 10:49 | Taylor George

President Donald Trump will not immediately agree to release a Democratic memo rebutting GOP claims that the Federal Bureau of Investigation abused its surveillance authority as it probed Russian meddling in the 2016 election but 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 the past few weeks, Nunes and the Republican majority on the committee successfully worked with Trump to release a misleading memo suggesting wrongdoing on the part of intelligence officials investigating the Trump-Russia scandal, on a party-line vote.

White House counsel Don McGahn says in a letter to the committee that the memo contains "numerous properly classified and especially sensitive passages" and asked the intelligence panel to revise the memo with the help of the Justice Department.

Controversial House Intelligence Committee Chairman Devin Nunes (R-Calif.) is said to be spearheading the head-scratching push to construct a physical barrier in the committee's secure spaces, according to CBS News. The White House also released a letter from the Justice Department, written at the request of the White House, confirming the existence of national security concerns.

Partisan sparring over the Russian Federation investigation is causing chaos on the traditionally bipartisan House intelligence committee - with the panel now planning to build a wall to separate Republican and Democratic staff who have long sat side by side. "The President is weighing his options and will respond soon", the White House statement said. The committee voted on Monday to release the document, and it was sent to Trump's desk for approval.

U.S. intelligence agencies have concluded that Russian Federation interfered in the 2016 presidential campaign using hacking and propaganda, an effort that eventually included attempting to tilt the race in Trump's favor.

The House Intelligence Committee voted unanimously on Monday to release the 10-page Democratic memo, and the committee rules gave Trump five days to decide whether to block or allow its release. And the Democratic leadership has urged Speaker Paul Ryan (R-WI) to remove Nunes.

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A senior Republican on the committee, Florida Rep. Tom Rooney, said Thursday that he thinks the committee is "poison" right now, characterizing partisan tensions as a total breakdown on committee that could have national security concerns.

"Any minor redactions should be made as quickly as possible and the memo should be released", she said.

The plan to divide the Republican and Democratic staff comes as members of the two parties have publicly been at odds, first over the panel's ongoing investigation into Russian Federation and more recently over Republican investigations into the FBI and Justice Department.

The White House allowed the Nunes memo to be made public.

They joined other Trump administration critics in calling the release of the Republican document an effort to undermine the investigation led by Special Counsel Robert Mueller.

Maryland Democratic Rep. C.A. Dutch Ruppersberger, who served on it for 12 years and was ranking member for four, said the dueling sides should knock off the nonsense and get to work.

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