Donald Trump is blocking the release of the Democrats’ rebuttal to a Republican memo that accused the FBI of a politically biased investigation into the president’s ties to Russia. Donald McGahn, the White House counsel, released a letter Friday night arguing that disclosure of the Democrats’ memo would “create especially significant concerns for the national security and law enforcement interests” and claiming that Trump was “inclined to declassify” the document, but could not at this time due to “classified and especially sensitive passages”. Democrats on the House intelligence committee, which is investigating Russian meddling into the US election, authored the new memo, which they said provided context for a four-page memo authored by Republican Devin Nunes, a close ally of Donald Trump.
The GOP memo, released last week, claimed that the FBI and justice department obtained a surveillance warrant against Carter Page, a former campaign adviser to the Trump campaign, based on shoddy information provided by a former British spy, Christopher Steele. Trump has said the memo “totally” vindicated him.
The House panel voted unanimously to release the Democrats’ memo on Monday, giving Trump until Saturday to decide whether the information should be made public. On Friday afternoon, Trump had told reporters that the memo would be released “soon”.
But McGahn said the memo in its current form could not be released. His letter said that “given the public interest in transparency in these unprecedented circumstances”, the president had directed the justice department to assist the House committee if it wished to revise the Democrats’ memo to “mitigate the risks”.