Trump Halts Declassifying Democrat Memo; Revisions Underway

The White House noted that Trump is "inclined to declassify the February 5th Memorandum" but is holding off due to "classified and especially sensitive" information within the document.

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Washington, D.C.— On Friday evening, President Trump declined to release the Democratic House Intelligence memo, noting that he was “unable” to declassify the memo, citing the “significant concerns” of both the FBI and the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) in relation to releasing the memo, due to “longstanding principles regarding the protection of intelligence sources and methods, ongoing investigations, and other similarly sensitive information,” according to a written statement from White House Counsel Donald McGahn.

According to a report by The Hill:

White House counsel Don McGahn wrote a letter to House Intelligence Committee Chairman Devin Nunes (R-Calif.) explaining that “although the president is inclined to declassify” the Democratic memo, the administration believes it would create “especially significant concerns” for “national security and law enforcement interests.”
Trump’s legal team insists that it came to that conclusion at the behest of senior officials at the Office of the Director of National Intelligence and the Department of Justice (DOJ).

The letter from McGahn to Nunes specified that certain information could not be released without compromising “sources and methods, ongoing investigations, and other similarly sensitive information.” A separate letter to McGahn from FBI Director Wray and Deputy Attorney General Rosenstein referenced information identified within the memo holding “national security or law enforcement concerns.” The FBI had previously echoed similar concerns about the release of the Nunes memo prior to Trump’s approval of the release.

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The Democratic memo is reportedly ten pages long and is written in part as a rebuttal of the recently released GOP House Intelligence Committee memo, which claimed to have exposed politicization of the FBI and DOJ and lying by omission to the FISA court in an effort to attain surveillance warrants on Trump campaign staff.

McGahn wrote that in the name of maintaining transparency, President Trump had directed the DOJ to give technical assistance to the committee to a help revise the memo based on the “significant concerns” of the FBI and DOJ.

“The Executive Branch stands ready to review any subsequent draft of the February 5th Memorandum for declassification at the earliest opportunity,” McGahn’s letter declared.

On Saturday morning, President Trump took to Twitter to accuse the Democrats of playing politics with classified information, claiming that Democrats knew that inclusion of “sources and methods (and more) would have to be heavily redacted, whereupon they would blame the White House for lack of transparency.”

Democrats including Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-CA) and House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi have criticized Trump for approving the release of the Nunes memo while blocking the release of the Democratic memo.

Chairman of the House committee, Rep. Devin Nunes, who ran point on the GOP’s FBI/FISA memo, said Democrats should follow the guidance of the DOJ’s recommendations and “make the appropriate technical changes and redactions” in order to allow their memo into the public domain.

Congressman and House Intelligence Committee member Jim Himes (D-CT) said on Saturday that the Committee plans to apply redactions to the memo, according to the New York Times. On Sunday, Committee member Adam Schiff (D-CA) said that “we’re going to sit down with the FBI and go through any concerns that they have, and any legitimate concerns over sources and methods, we will redact.”

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