President Trump won't declassify a memo from House Intelligence Committee Democrats that rebuts a GOP memo released last week alleging the FBI abused its surveillance authority when obtaining a FISA warrant to spy on a former member of Trump's campaign.
After rejecting the Democrats' memo last week, the House committee voted to release it and sent to the president for review.
The GOP memo, penned by the staff of committee Chairman Devin Nunes, R-Calif., was the center of controversy for a few weeks leading up to its release with Republicans saying it would show the bureau's bias against the president and Democrats calling it an attempt by their colleagues to taint Special Counsel Robert Mueller's probe into Russian interference in the U.S. presidential election and potential collusion by members of the Trump team.
Saying that the president was inclined to release the Democrats' memo, White House Counsel Don McGahn told the committee in a letter that “because the memorandum contains numerous properly classified and especially sensitive passages, he is unable to do so at this time.”
Trump signed off on the release of the four-page Nunes memo last week despite the objections of the Justice Department and FBI Director Christopher Wray.
But the rebuttal memo is considerably longer at 10 pages and likely contains at least references to the underlying intelligence, viewed by committee ranking member Rep. Adam Schiff, D-Calif., but not by Nunes, that supports the FISA application for a warrant to conduct surveillance on Carter Page.
“After ignoring urging of FBI & DOJ not to release misleading Nunes memo because it omits material facts, @POTUS 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,” Schiff, who authored the memo, tweeted.
“Given the public interest in transparency,” McGahn wrote, “the President has directed the Justice Department personnel to be available to give technical assistance to the committee.”
“The President's double standard when it comes to transparency is appalling," Sen Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., said in a statement.
Saying that both memos should be released, Rep. Justin Amash, R-Mich., tweeted, “I've read both memos. Neither one endangers national security. The American people deserve the opportunity to read both memos.”