After indicating earlier in the day he may release a “letter” related to the Democrat memo on FISA court abuse, President Donald Trump announced late Friday he is inclined to release the Democrat memo but that the administration needs time to work on what can ultimately be made available to the public. The implication is that the memo needs significant redaction.
Per pool reports, regarding a note from Principal Deputy White House Press Secretary Raj Shah that refers to an attached letter from White House Counsel Don McGahn:
The White House has transmitted the attached letter—along with a classified attachment not included— to House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence Committee regarding the classified intelligence memorandum the Committee voted to disclose on February 5th.
The letter, which mentions the sensitive nature of the information included in the Democrat memo, is included in the tweet below:
WH letter to Nunes on POTUS decision not to declassify the Dem memo: pic.twitter.com/1ejQtzCgK3
— Phil Mattingly (@Phil_Mattingly) February 10, 2018
Rep. Trey Gowdy (R-S.C.) — author of the Republican memo released last week which the Democrat memo is said to rebut — predicted the Democrats might iinclude information within their 10-page document that required redaction giving the impression that the administration is hiding information from the American people.
In an appearance on Fox News’s “The Story with Martha MacCallum,” Gowdy appeared to suggest that lawmakers in the opposing party want Americans to wonder about information that may be redacted.
“The Democrats are politically smart enough to put things in the memo that require either the [Federal] Bureau [of Investigation] or the Department of Justice to say it needs to be redacted. Therefore, it creates this belief that there’s something being hidden from the American people,” Gowdy said.
The competing memos are a result of the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence’s investigation of a dossier — known as the Steele dossier — and how it was created, funded and used to obtain a FISA warrant to secretly spy on Trump adviser Carter Page. The Republican memo, a result of that investigation, was released last Friday. It alleged disturbing abuses of both the FBI and the DOJ in pursuit of Democrat’s plans to cause political damage to the Trump campaign, and later the Trump administration.
The Democrats responded with a memo of their own, written by Rep. Adam Schiff (D-Calif.) and reportedly rebuts many of the claims in the Republican version, and used the same Committee vote to moved it to the president’s desk requiring his signature to release.
Trump had five days to release the memo pursuant to House Committee rules. Friday was the last day of that timeframe. The memo will go back to the House Committee if Trump fails to release and they have the opportunity to resubmit it to the president, and may also be able to release the memo on their own.