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 purpose, as Republicans said the President’s critics were simply playing political games over the Russia investigation.
“The Democrats sent a very political and long response memo which they knew, because of sources and methods (and more), would have to be heavily redacted,” the President wrote in a Saturday morning message on Twitter.
Mr. Trump’s decision on Friday to reject the memo from Democrats came a week after he had allowed the release of a GOP memo on the Russia probe, which accused the FBI of wrongly using partisan information to get court approval for surveillance on Carter Page, a former foreign policy adviser for the Trump Campaign.
Democrats said their rebuttal memo was an effort to set the record straight on that first GOP document.
The chairman of the House Intelligence Committee, Rep. Devin Nunes (R-CA), backed up the President’s charge, saying it was “no surprise that these agencies recommended against publishing the memo without redactions.”
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,” Nunes said in a written statement.
Backers of Trump pushed ahead with that argument on Saturday.
While Republicans accused Democrats of playing political games, Democrats leveled the same charge at the GOP, as they again questioned why the President overrode concerns of the FBI a week earlier.
“You said you wanted to release the Nunes memo before you even read it, and your appointees at the FBI and DOJ warned you it was inaccurate and misleading. You didn’t care then,” said Rep. Don Beyer (D-VA).
“Got something to hide, Mr. President?” Beyer tweeted.
“The President immediately—and without scrutiny—approves the release of a memo that he claims “vindicates” him,” said Rep. Mike Quigley (D-IL), a member of the House Intelligence Committee, where the memo battles have been fought.
“When it comes to a memo that bolsters the credibility of our investigation and the intelligence community… well then, things are a little bit different,” Quigley wrote on Twitter.
“Rank hypocrisy,” added Rep. Keith Ellison (D-MN).
The Democratic memo is not dead by any means, as if Democrats can find an agreement with the FBI and Department of Justice, then the intelligence panel could approve those changes, and send it back to the President for his review.