President Trump will not release a Democratic memo rebutting Republican claims that federal law enforcement officials abused their power at the beginning of the Russia investigation. According to Trump and White House counsel Donald McGahn, the FBI and Justice Department determined that parts of the Democratic memo contained “numerous properly classified and especially sensitive passages” that would “create especially significant concerns” for “national security and law enforcement interests” if it were released to the public as is. They claim that if that information is redacted, they will then consider releasing the revised memo.
The national security concerns of federal law enforcement officials were not as important to the White House one week prior, however. On Monday, January 29, the Republican-controlled House Intelligence Committee voted along party lines to release a controversial GOP-written memo which alleged politically motivated abuses by the FBI and Justice Department at the outset of the Russia investigation. Despite the objections of the FBI and Justice Department, President Trump agreed to declassify and release that memo the following Friday, suggesting the document essentially invalidated the Russia investigation. The widely criticized memo did not ultimately meet the earth-shattering expectations that House Intelligence Committee chairman Devin Nunes, Trump, and other GOP lawmakers and pundits had set for it.
This Monday, the House Intelligence Committee voted to release the Democratic counter-memo rebutting at least some of the previous memo’s claims. This time, Trump halted the release, and on Saturday blamed Democrats for making him do so.
In response, Representative Adam Schiff, the ranking Democrat on the House Intelligence Committee, said that the suggested redactions will be reviewed, but also pointed out that the memo was based on the same documents as the Nunes memo, and had been submitted to the FBI and Justice Department prior to the committee’s unanimous vote to release it on Monday. Schiff (and other Democrats) thus accused the White House of blocking the memo for politically motivated reasons: