Trump blocks release of Democrats' memo on probe

President Donald Trump on Friday blocked the release of a classified memo written by congressional Democrats to rebut a Republican document.
After President Donald Trump blocked the release of a Democratic memo about the Russia probe, House Democratic Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi accused the White House of politicising US intelligence and national security.
After President Donald Trump blocked the release of a Democratic memo about the Russia probe, House Democratic Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi accused the White House of politicising US intelligence and national security.PHOTO: AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

Minority Leader Pelosi calls it a cover-up of his Russia 'scandal', despite concerns on classified info

WASHINGTON • House Democratic Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi accused the White House of politicising US intelligence and national security after President Donald Trump blocked the release of a Democratic memo about the Russia probe, saying that the President "has something to hide."

"President Trump's refusal to release Intelligence Committee Democrats' memo is a stunningly brazen attempt to cover up the truth about the Trump-Russia scandal from the American people," Ms Pelosi said in a statement.

"Clearly, the President has something to hide."

Ms Pelosi's criticism on Friday came after White House counsel Don McGahn wrote to the chairman of the House Intelligence Committee, announcing that Mr Trump had moved to block the release of a memo from Democrats on the panel.

The memo aimed to counter a Republican-drafted one on the investigation of Russian meddling in the 2016 United States election that brought Mr Trump to power.

That note was declassified and released by the President.

But Mr McGahn said the Democratic memo "contains numerous properly classified and especially sensitive passages". Portions of the memo "would create especially significant concerns for the national security and law enforcement interests," Mr McGahn wrote.

'COVER-UP ATTEMPT'

President Trump's refusal to release Intelligence Committee Democrats' memo is a stunningly brazen attempt to cover up the truth about the Trump-Russia scandal from the American people. Clearly, the President has something to hide.

HOUSE DEMOCRATIC MINORITY LEADER NANCY PELOSI

Federal Bureau of Investigation chief Christopher Wray and Deputy Attorney-General Rod Rosenstein in a separate letter indicated that releasing this material would present concerns for the "protection of intelligence sources and methods, ongoing investigations and other similarly sensitive information".

Republican lawmaker Devin Nunes, chairman of the House Intelligence Committee and author of the previously released Republican memo, said it was "no surprise" the Department of Justice (DOJ) and FBI advised against publishing the Democratic memo.

"Intelligence Committee Republicans encourage the minority to accept the DOJ's recommendations and make the appropriate technical changes and redactions so that no sources and methods are disclosed and their memo can be declassified as soon as possible," he said in a statement.

The previously released Republican text alleges anti-Trump bias in the Russia probe.

The DOJ and FBI had also warned against releasing the Republican memo, saying it could jeopardise US intelligence collection methods. Mr Trump authorised its release anyway.

Democrats on the intelligence committee complained the Republicans' four-page memo cherry-picked facts and explained events out of context and was thus not accurate.

They joined other Trump administration critics in calling the release of the Republican document an effort to undermine the investigation led by Special Counsel Robert Mueller.

On Friday, Mr Adam Schiff, the top Democrat on the House Intelligence Committee, accused the President of double standards in approving the release of the Republican memo, but blocking the Democratic one.

"After ignoring urging of FBI and DOJ not to release misleading Nunes memo because it omits material facts, (the President) now expresses concerns over sharing precisely those facts with public and seeks to send it back to the same Majority that produced the flawed Nunes memo to begin with," he wrote on Twitter.

AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Sunday Times on February 11, 2018, with the headline 'Trump blocks release of Democrats' memo on probe'. Print Edition | Subscribe