President Trump blocks Democrat-written memo, citing national security concerns

The president eagerly released a Republican-written memo last week.
February 10, 2018, 1:51am

Late Friday night, President Trump officially blocked from release a memo written by Democrats intended to give context to a Republican-written memo that he eagerly released last week.

In a statement, the White House announced that it was declining to declassify the memo, written by California Democratic Rep. Adam Schiff, the ranking member on the House Intelligence Committee. Schiff’s memo is believed to outline what Democrats say are attempts to undercut federal investigations into President Donald Trump and Russian meddling in the 2016 election, and comes in response to the Republican memo that focused on the Justice Department’s surveillance of former Trump campaign adviser Carter Page.

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“Although the President is inclined to declassify the February 5th Memorandum, because the Memorandum contains numerous properly classified and especially sensitive passages, he is unable to do at this time,” White House counsel Don McGahn wrote in the statement, explaining that the Justice Department officials believe parts of the memo would “create especially significant concerns for the national security and law enforcement interests.”

If the House Intelligence Committee agrees to revise the memo, McGahn added, the White House would be open to reevaluating its decision.

Though the FBI had cautioned the White House against releasing the Nunes memo, the Trump administration plowed ahead anyway.

“With regard to the House Intelligence Committee’s memorandum, the FBI was provided a limited opportunity to review this memo the day before the committee voted to release it,” the FBI said in a statement at the time. “As expressed during our initial review, we have grave concerns about material omission of fact that fundamentally impact the memo’s accuracy.”

Schiff wrote his memo after criticizing the Republican memo for “cherry-picking facts” to mislead the public and protect President Trump from the ongoing investigation. After the House voted to release Schiff’s memo on Monday, President Trump had five days to decide whether or not to make it public.

Trump tweeted Saturday that the Republican memo “totally vindicates” him and once again called the federal investigation into his campaign’s ties to Russia a “witch hunt.” A new poll by Reuters/Ipsos published Monday also showed that three out of four Republicans, traditionally members of the “law and order” party, believe the FBI and Department of Justice are trying to delegitimize President Trump.

“The memo clearly vindicates the President’s position that there was political bias,” White House Press Secretary Sarah Sanders also said Thursday.