Trump explains refusal to declassify Dems' memo


Democrats on the House Intelligence Committee are prepared to black out parts of the memo to ensure it doesn't reveal secrets.

President Donald Trump has accused the Democrats of playing politics with classified information, asserting that their memo countering GOP allegations about the conduct of the FBI's Russian Federation probe is a trap meant to "blame the White House for lack of transparency".

Trump Friday blocked the release of the memo which responds to a Republican memo alleging Justice Department surveillance abuses concerning Trump campaign adviser Carter Page.

The White House legislative director, Marc Short, countered that Democrats padded their memo with sensitive information, knowing Trump would stop its release, in an effort to make him look obstructionist. The president asserted the Democratic memo was a trap meant to "blame the White House for lack of transparency" and urged the Democrats to "re-do and send back in proper form!" He said Trump is still "inclined" to release the memo in the interest of transparency if revisions are made. But congressional Democrats and Republicans, including House Speaker Paul Ryan and Rep Trey Gowdy of SC, who helped draft the GOP memo, have said it shouldn't be used to undermine the special counsel.

The president had until Saturday to decide whether to allow the classified material to become public after the House intelligence committee voted Monday to release it.

The White House told the House Intelligence Committee the president is "unable" to declassify a memo drafted by Democrats about abuse of government surveillance powers in the FBI's Russian Federation probe.

Schiff pointed out the President's different treatment of the memos in a tweet Saturday, noting that the Federal Bureau of Investigation had released a statement on the Republicans' document expressing "grave concerns about material omissions of fact that fundamentally impact the memo's accuracy".

Among those passages are some that the Justice Departments says could compromise intelligence sources and methods, ongoing investigations and national security if disclosed. The Democratic memo is thought to elaborate on those points.

Democrats said that memo "cherry-picked" details.

Short, though, said Democrats also introduced political theatre into the episode. White House Chief of Staff John Kelly has reportedly been pushing for redactions, saying that the Democratic memo is "not as clean" as its Republican counterpart. Asked if Democrats drafted a memo they knew would be blocked, Schiff said "of course not".