Furious Democrats lashed out late Friday after President Donald Trump blocked the release of a rebuttal memo to the one written by the Republicans using selective information to attack the FBI’s investigation of a former Trump campaign adviser.
Both memos included classified information that the president had to agree could be released. Trump approved release of the GOP memo despite the objections of the FBI and his Justice Department. But now he claims the rebuttal memo written by Democrats on the House Intelligence Committee “contains numerous properly classified and especially sensitive passages,” according to a letter written by White House counsel Don McGahn.
McGahn said Trump has directed the Justice Department to offer assistance to the House committee to revise the Democrats’ memo.
House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) called Trump’s action “stunningly brazen” and “part of a dangerous and desperate pattern of cover-up.” She added: “Clearly, the president has something to hide.”
Rep. Adam Schiff (Calif.), the top Democrat on the House Intelligence Committee, lashed Trump for ignoring pleas from the FBI and his own Justice Department not to release the GOP memo, authored by Rep. Devin Nunes (R-Calif.), because it omitted “material facts.” The president now “expresses concerns over sharing precisely those facts with [the] public.”
Sen. Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.) called the move “obstruction of justice by Donald Trump happening in real time.” He said the call “makes a mockery of national security and common sense.”
Rep. Justin Amash (R-Mich.) called for the release of the Democrats’ memo. He tweeted that he has read both memos and that neither one endangers national security. “The American people deserve the opportunity to read both memos,” he added.
Rep. Jamie Raskin (D-Md.) wondered if the Trump administration takes “the whole world for fools?”
Rep. Brad Sherman (D-Calif.) added: “Release the real memo.”
Trump’s move could increase pressure to release the entire application for the warrant to electronically monitor former Trump campaign adviser Carter Page that was submitted to the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court. Page, an investor with a history of Kremlin contacts before he joined Trump’s campaign team, was a target of the FBI’s investigation of Russian interference in the presidential election.
The court approved the warrant under the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act in 2016 to track Page and renewed it three more times, indicating that the investigation may have found productive information.
The New York Times applied to the court earlier this week to release the full application for the warrant, arguing that Trump had already breached the secrecy barrier shielding the information when he allowed release of the GOP memo. “Publication would contribute to an informed debate about the propriety of the government’s FISA application,” the Times argued.
House Intelligence Committee members Jim Himes (D-Conn.) and Brad Wenstrup (R-Ohio) also called for the application to be released as long as it could be redacted in such a way that it wouldn’t threaten national security, both men said on CNN’s “State of the Union” earlier this month.
Americans would see “dozens and dozens of pages citing all sorts of facts. You would see a very comprehensive project that gets put together by 10, 12 people at the FBI, then presented to a federal judge,” said Himes. “I would certainly support that release because then the American people would see how comprehensive the FISA application process is rather than the way it’s being characterized as secret, dark, behind closed doors.”