Trump blocks declassification of Democratic intelligence memo
After consulting leaders in the intelligence community, President Donald Trump will not release of the Democratic House Select Committee on Intelligence memo citing "significant concerns" for national security.
White House counsel Donald McGahn alerted the leadership of the House intelligence committee of the president's decision in a letter Friday.
After submitting the memo to the Office of the Director of National Intelligence and the Department of Justice for review, McGahn reported, "The Department has identified portions of the February 5th Memorandum the disclosure of which it believes would create especially significant concerns for the national security and law enforcement interests."
It is still possible President Trump will release the report. Citing the public interest in the memo, McGahn notified the HPSCI that Justice Department personnel will be available "should the Committee wish to revise the February 5th Memorandum to mitigate the risks identified by the Department."
Trump told reporters at the White House on Friday that the memo "is going to be released soon."
On February 5, the House intelligence committee voted unanimously to release the Democrats' memo. The document was then submitted to the White House for review.
The Democratic memo rebuts the four-page memo released by Republicans on the committee last week, which alleges the intelligence community abused its surveillance powers against the Trump campaign through the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court.
Specifically, the GOP memo claims that the FBI requested a FISA order to surveil Trump campaign official, Carter Page, based on a politically biased report produced by Christopher Steele for the Democratic National Committee and Hillary Clinton campaign.
The February 2 release of the Republican memo was specifically authorized by President Trump despite objections from the FBI and Department of Justice. Ahead of the president's declassification of the GOP document, the FBI released a public statement expressing "grave concerns about material omissions of fact that fundamentally impact the memo's accuracy."
After the memo was made public, Trump took to social media to say the report "vindicates" him in the Russia investigation.
The Republican authors of the memo claim the surveillance of Page Carter Page, represents a "troubling breakdown of legal processes established to protect the America people from abuses related to the FISA process."
Democrats have countered that the GOP memo was inaccurate and a misleading collection of "cherry-picked" details.
Rep. Adam Schiff of California, the ranking Democrat on the intelligence committee, issued a statement on Friday outraged at the decision to withhold the memo.
Schiff charged that while the White House "ignored" FBI and Department of Justice concerns about declassifying the Republican memo, President Trump "now expresses concerns over sharing precisely those facts with public and seeks to send it back to the same Majority that produced the flawed Nunes memo to begin with."
One of the authors' of the Republican memo, HPSCI chairman Rep. Devin Nunes, R-Calif., has stood by the accuracy of the GOP memo. In an interview with Sinclair Broadcast Group earlier this week, Nunes claimed the FBI "basically lied to the court" in order to obtain a FISA surveillance order against Carter Page.