|Posted by JROE LIGHTFOOT on February 10, 2018 at 1:30 PM|
According to Joseph Weber at Fox News, President Trump on Saturday defended his decision to send the Democrats' memo on the Russia probe back for edits -- accusing them of playing politics for submitting a document laden with “sources and methods” too sensitive to make public.
“The Democrats sent a very political and long response memo which they knew, because of sources and methods (and more), would have to be heavily redacted, whereupon they would blame the White House for lack of transparency,” Trump tweeted early Saturday morning. “Told them to re-do and send back in proper form!”
Trump’s remarks came a day after the White House notified the House Intelligence Committee that the president was “unable” to declassify the memo, citing national security concerns.
In a letter to the committee, White House counsel Don McGahn said the memo contains "numerous properly classified and especially sensitive passages” and asks the committee to revise it with the help of the Justice Department.
McGahn said Trump is still "inclined" to release the memo in the interest of transparency if revisions are made.
Trump’s decision to withhold declassifying the memo was met with strong criticism from top congressional Democrats.
“President Trump’s refusal to release (the) memo is a stunningly brazen attempt to cover up the truth about the Trump-Russia scandal from the American people,” House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, (D-Calif.) said. “The president’s decision to block the Democratic memo from release is part of a dangerous and desperate pattern of cover-up on the part of the president.”
The Democrat memo counters a document in which Republican leaders of the GOP-controlled committee allege government abuse in the Russian probe. Trump declassified the GOP memo last week, allowing its publication despite objections from the Justice Department.
The memo argues the FBI and Justice Department, at least in part, used a loosely-vetted, Trump opposition-research dossier by former British spy Christopher Steele and financed in part by Democrats, to apply for a surveillance warrant from the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance, or FISA, court on former Trump campaign adviser Carter Page.
California Rep. Adam Schiff, the committee’s top Democrat, on Friday argued that Trump is treating the two memos differently, saying the president is now seeking revisions by the same committee that produced the original Republican memo.
Still, Schiff said Democrats look forward to conferring with the federal agencies “to determine how we can properly inform the American people about the misleading attack on law enforcement by the GOP."
GOP California Rep. Devin Nunes, the House Intelligence Committee chairman, encouraged Democrats to accept the Justice Department's recommendations and "make the appropriate technical changes and redactions."
Committee members voted unanimously on Monday to have the Democrats’ memo released. However, several Republicans said they thought it should be redacted.
House Speaker Paul Ryan has said the Democrats’ memo should be released.
After the issue of the Republican memo, Trump said its release "vindicates" him in the current Russia investigation headed by special counsel Robert Mueller. But Democrats in Congress and Republicans -- including Ryan, R-Wis., and partner Republican Rep. Trey Gowdy, of South Carolina, who aided in the preparation of the Republican memo -- have said it should not be used to challenge the special counsel.
Prior to Trump’s verdict on the Democratic memo was released Friday, White House spokesman Raj Shah said the president was examining the memo with the White House counsel's office, FBI Director Christopher Wray, and another top DOJ official.
The president had until Saturday to make a decision on whether to permit the classified document to become public.
The White House has sent lawmakers a document signed by Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein and Wray, in addition to a marked-up copy of the memo, leaving out segments it believes is too sensitive to make public.
Amongst those sections are some that the DOJ says could compromise intelligence sources and approaches, current investigations and national security if released.
Democrats alleged that the White House released the GOP memo to divert from the investigation, which is examining if Trump's campaign was in any way linked to the Russian meddling in the 2016 elections.
Republicans have claimed that the reliance on Steele's information was an illicit politicization of the government's surveillance powers.
Dems have disputed that the GOP memo was incorrect and a misrepresentative assembly of "cherry-picked" facts.
They stated that federal law enforcement officials had notified the court about the political bases of Steele's work and that some of the former spy's material was verified by the FBI. They also stated that there was more verification presented to the court other Steele's data, though they have not offered any details.