UPDATE: Trump will not allow release of Democratic FBI memo

UPDATE — 2/9, 8:14 p.m. EST: Contradicting assumptions following Donald Trump’s statement to reporters earlier Friday, White House counsel Donald McGahn said in a letter to the House intelligence committee that  the president will not declassify the Democratic memo rebutting a previous document released by Republicans alleging political bias in the FBI’s investigation of Russian interference in the 2016 election.

McGahn cited “numerous properly classified and especially sensitive passages,” as the reason Trump will not allow the memo’s public release.

 

The U.S. House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence voted unanimously Monday to release a Democrat-authored memo which aims to counter a GOP-written document summarizing alleged FBI surveillance abuses.

Now in White House hands, President Trump has five days to determine if the Democratic rebuttal should be released to the public.  Should Mr. Trump refuse to approve the memo’s release, the House can vote to override him.

The intelligence committee’s ranking Democrat, Adam Schiff (Calif.) summarized his impression of the Democratic memo on Monday after the committee met.

“We think this will help inform the public of the many distortions and inaccuracies in the majority memo,” Schiff told reporters Monday.

The Monday vote follows over two weeks of partisan rancor among intelligence committee members, particularly between Chairman Devin Nunes (R-Calif.) and Schiff.  The two traded barbs all week in the buildup to the Nunes’ memo’s release on Friday.

Last week’s partisan bickering culminated in a committee vote which saw GOP members of the panel vote in favor of the Nunes’ memo made public against unanimous opposition from committee Democrats.  Similarly, the GOP delegation voted unanimously against the release of the Democrat-written document in face of Democratic approval.

Days later, on Monday, the panel’s Republicans did an about face in which all 13 members joined nine Democrats to vote in favor of sending the Schiff memo to the White House.

According to sources, the 10-page Schiff memo counters Nunes’ memo, particularly by validating Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court (FISA) surveillance of Trump campaign aide, Carter Page.

Similarly, sources say Schiff’s memo will dismantle Nunes’ claims the FISA warrant issued authorizing surveillance on Page rested solely on the controversial “Trump Dossier,” a collection of sordid tales alleging misbehavior by Trump prior to his election in 2016.

Although unanimously approved by House intelligence Republicans, one GOP member, Florida’s Tom Rooney, says the Democratic memo will “muddy the water” of the Justice Department’s Russia investigation “for a million different reasons.”

According to an Axios report on Sunday, up to five more congressional memos alleging additional cases of “wrongdoing” in the Justice and State departments could be released in the near-future, although no timetable has been set for their release.

 

[Reuters] [The Hill] [Politico] [CNN] [Photo courtesy Mark Wilson/Getty Images]