WASHINGTON – US President Donald Trump on Saturday told Democratic lawmakers to refile a memo about the probe into his campaign’s possible collusion with Russia, leaving a chance the document could still be released.
The document is the Democrats’ response to a four-page memorandum written by Republican legislator Devin Nunes, which Trump agreed to declassify and release on February 2 — against the advice of his own FBI director and the Department of Justice.
On Saturday Trump called the Democratic document “a very political and long response memo which they knew, because of sources and methods (and more), would have to be heavily redacted.”
That would allow them, he said, to “blame the White House for lack of transparency.
“Told them to re-do and send back in proper form!” the president said in a tweet.
On Friday, Trump refused to declassify the Democratic document.
In a letter to the chairman of the House Intelligence Committee, White House lawyer Don McGahn said the Democrats’ rebuttal “contains numerous properly classified and especially sensitive passages.”
McGahn wrote that portions of the Democratic memo would create “significant concerns for the national security and law enforcement interests,” concerns which FBI chief Christopher Wray and Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein raised in a separate letter.
The FBI had previously issued a highly unusual warning against releasing the memo from Republican Nunes, saying it could jeopardize US intelligence collection methods.
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, sparking their wish for a rebuttal.
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 into possible links between Trump’s 2016 presidential campaign and Russia, as well as possible obstruction of justice.
The Nunes memo claimed Democratic-funded research prompted the FBI to spy on a former Trump campaign aide, Carter Page, which the White House said raised questions about FBI and Department of Justice integrity.
Mueller has already indicted two officials including Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort. Two other officials, including onetime national security advisor Michael Flynn, have admitted lying to investigators.
Trump has repeatedly denied any collusion with Russia.