Donald F McGahn II, Trump's counsel, told the House Permanent Select Committee on intelligence on Friday that though he was inclined to declassify the memo, he is unable to do so "at this time" as it contains "numerous properly classified and specially sensitive passages".
A day after the White House told House Democrats to edit an intelligence memo about the probe of Russian interference in the 2016 elections in order to remove sensitive intelligence materials, President Donald Trump accused Democrats of adding in too much classified information on goal, as Republicans said the President's critics were simply playing political games over the Russia investigation.
The move raises a host of questions about Donald Trump's motives for declassifying the intelligence in the Republican memo but refusing to do so for the Democratic version of the memo, despite a unanimous voteby the bipartisan House Intelligence Committee in favor of publishing the second memo.
The president's rejection of the Democratic memo is in contrast to his enthusiastic embrace of releasing the Republican document, which he pledged before reading to make public.
The GOP memo attempts to make the case that surveillance warrants under the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) were authorized against former Trump campaign official Carter Page because of an unverified and politicized dossier about Donald Trump's alleged connections to Russian Federation, authored by former British spy Christopher Steele. People who have read the Schiff memo told NPR's Philip Ewing that it is 10 pages and contains many footnotes meant to rebut arguments made in the GOP document.
But it's not clear whether Republicans will be willing to take that step, and the GOP committee members were hesitant about defying Trump on the memo earlier this week.
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"This memo contains a large volume of classified information, including some touching on sources and methods heightening the potential damage to national security", Nunes said.
Trump called the memo "very political and long" and said he "told them to re-do and send back in proper form".
But congressional Democrats and Republicans, including House Speaker Paul Ryan and Rep. Trey Gowdy of SC, who helped draft the GOP memo, have said it shouldn't be used to undermine the special counsel.
Rep. Adam Schiff Saturday slammed President Donald Trump for calling a Democratic memo on Federal Bureau of Investigation spying "very political", insisting the memo coming from he and his fellow Democrats on the House Intelligence Committee is based on fact. It will argue that it is just handling classified information with care, but it did not demonstrate that level of care last week when it forced through the Nunes memo. But more than that, Trump will have to bat down charges he made a decision to keep the memo secret to hide the fact that the GOP document was widely derided as partisan spin.
He went on to say that the Justice Department had identified portions of the Democrats' memo that it believed "would create especially significant concerns for the national security and law enforcement interests" if disclosed.
Trump claimed the original memo "totally vindicated" him in his role in attempts to thwart the special counsel's investigation of the matter but investigators and even Republicans say it shows more illegal involvement in it.