Trump blocks release of Russian Federation memo drafted by Democrats

Rep. Adam Schiff D=Calif addresses

Rep. Adam Schiff D=Calif addresses

President Trump will not immediately release a memo drafted by Democrats on the House intelligence committee meant to respond to a memo by that committee's Republican chairman released last week, with the White House instead suggesting revisions of sensitive sections before it is made available to the public.

In a letter to the committee, White House counsel Donald McGahn said, "although the President is inclined to declassify the February 5 Memorandum, because the Memorandum contains numerous properly classified and especially sensitive passages, he is unable to do so at this time". Now that Trump and Kelly have said they're pushing decisions about releasing the memo to Rosenstein and Wray, the administration could try to tie them closer to the partisan attacks by Democrats - and have more "evidence" of what they call bias.

Democrats on the panel drafted the memo to counter claims in a document released last week by Republicans, led by committee chairman Rep. Devin Nunes of California. The president declassified the document last week, allowing its publication in full over the objections of the Justice Department.

The House of Representatives intelligence committee voted unanimously on Monday to release the 10-page document by the panel's Democrats, contingent on the Republican president agreeing to reclassify it.

House Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi was less measured, saying the White House move is "part of a unsafe and desperate pattern of cover-up on the part of the president".

A week after giving the green light to a memo written by Republicans in Congress which raised questions about the probe into Russian interference in the 2016 elections, President Donald Trump on Friday refused to release a rebuttal memo from Democrats, raising questions about details in the document.

Democrats said that memo mischaracterised sensitive information and was meant to discredit Special Counsel Robert Mueller's investigation of potential collusion between Trump's 2016 campaign and Russian Federation.

Mr. Trump huddled with Mr. Wray, principal Associate Deputy Attorney General Robert Hur and staff from the White House Counsel's Office "to receive their input" on the memo, said White House deputy press secretary Raj Shah. Ryan also said he thought the Democratic document should be released. But more than that, Trump will have to bat down charges he made a decision to keep the memo secret to hide the fact that the GOP document was widely derided as partisan spin.

The president faced a Friday deadline to decide on releasing the memo, and he told reporters earlier in the day, "It's going to be released soon". California's Sen. Dianne Feinstein, who is the top Democrat on the Senate Judiciary Committee and has read the classified information on which both memos are based, tweeted that Trump's blocking the memo is "hypocrisy at its worst".

"There is a rising sense of panic, clearly, within the White House and as well on the Hill", Schiff said Monday.

The House intelligence committee's Democrats say that making partisan targets of the Federal Bureau of Investigation and DoJ damages those institutions.

A spokesman for Grassley said Feinstein's analysis "smacks of desperation" and was "grasping at straws to mischaracterize the stated intent and substance" of his letter.

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