Trump refuses to declassify Democratic response to GOP Russia memo

Trump refuses to declassify Democratic response to GOP Russia memo”

Citing national security concerns, the White House is formally notifying the House intelligence committee that President Donald Trump is "unable" to declassify a memo drafted by Democrats that counters GOP allegations about abuse of government surveillance powers.

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.

Trump on February 2 allowed the release of the memo written by the committee's Republicans with no redactions. The FBI has said that memo, put together by House Intelligence Chairman Devin Nunes, R-California, omits key information that could impact its veracity. Trump, who has characterized Mueller's investigation as a "witch hunt", tweeted on Saturday that the memo "totally vindicates" him. The Intelligence Committee has the option to vote again to decide whether to refer the disclosure to the House, which will then have its own vote on whether to release their memo. Democrats said the Republican memo mischaracterized highly sensitive classified information and was meant to discredit Special Counsel Robert Mueller's investigation of potential collusion between Trump's 2016 campaign and Russian Federation.

Mueller is also investigating whether Trump interfered with that inquiry.

Critics of Mueller's probe have used the GOP memo, and other sources, to argue that the inquiry is baseless and spurred by political animus to Trump.

Trump said earlier Friday he planned to release the memo.

The top Democrat on the intelligence panel, California Rep. Adam Schiff, criticized Trump for treating the two documents differently, saying the president is now seeking revisions by the same committee that produced the original Republican memo.

The White House also released a letter from the Federal Bureau of Investigation director and the department's No. 2 official voicing concern about its release in relation to protecting USA intelligence sources and methods.

The disagreements have escalated over the previous year as Democrats have charged that Republicans aren't taking the panel's investigation into Russian election meddling seriously enough.

Trump's refusal to approve the Democrats' memo conflicts with the White House's previous position on the Republican memo.

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