President Donald Trump’s decision late Friday to block a memo by House Democrats—which rebuts a “cherry-picked” document released last week that’s been decried as “propaganda” meant to discredit the ongoing probe into allegations of collusion and obstruction of justice levied against the Trump campaign—was met with outrage by Democratic lawmakers, ethics experts, and other political observers.
In a letter to the House Intelligence Committee chairman, Rep. Devin Nunes (R-Calif.)—who served on Trump’s transition team and is responsible for the creation of the “cherry-picked” memo—Trump’s counsel wrote Friday that “although the president is inclined to declassify the [second] memorandum, because the memorandum contains numerous properly classified and especially sensitive passages, he is unable to do so at this time,” and teased the possibility that Trump may approve the release of a redacted version.
Critics dismissed as disingenuous the president’s claim that he had to block the second memo over national security concerns—pointing out that Trump ignored warnings from his own Justice Department about releasing the first memo, and even attacked top officials at the department and the FBI ahead of its release—and concluded that Trump simply wants to hide the takedown of the Nunes memo from the American public.
Rep. Adam Schiff (R-Calif.), the top Democrat on the House Intelligence Committee and the author of his party’s response to the “deeply flawed and inaccurate” Nunes memo, said the document blocked by Trump “sets out material facts that were necessary for the public to see that the FBI acted properly in seeking a FISA warrant on Carter Page,” a former Trump campaign staffer.
Schiff vowed Friday that Democrats on the Intelligence Committee will be promptly reviewing the redactions proposed by Trump’s Department of Justice and the FBI, and “look forward to conferring with the agencies to determine how we can properly inform the American people about the misleading attack on law enforcement by the GOP and address any concerns over sources and methods.”
If efforts to redact the Democrats’ memo to meet the Trump administration’s demands fail, the other option is for the House committee—which voted unanimously to release the second memo—to overrule the president by putting the decision to a full House vote.