Trump reportedly expected to declassify Democratic rebuttal of controversial GOP memo

The White House is inclined to declassify a Democratic rebuttal to the controversial GOP-penned memo that claims the FBI unlawfully spied on a Trump campaign adviser, according to a report Thursday.

An administration official, speaking on condition of anonymity, told The Wall Street Journal that Trump is expected to release the Democratic addendum to the four-page Republican memo on Friday.

“The White House understands that withholding the document is not the right response,” the official said.

Trump and his aides are in the process of discussing whether the Democratic rebuttal needs to be redacted over national security concerns, the source added. White House Chief of Staff John Kelly has reportedly been pushing for redactions, saying that the Democratic memo is “not as clean” as its Republican counterpart.

On Tuesday, Kelly told reporters that Trump hadn’t yet read the 10-page Democratic rebuttal because it’s “quite lengthy.”

A White House press official declined to confirm an exact release date for the Democratic document, telling reporters Thursday that a review process is “ongoing.”

Trump declassified the GOP memo last week after the House Intelligence Committee voted along party lines to release it, despite FBI and Justice Department brass expressing “grave” concerns about its accuracy.

The GOP memo, penned by the committee’s chairman, Rep. Devin Nunes, R-Calif., alleges that FBI officials used information from the Steele dossier to obtain a surveillance warrant for ex-Trump campaign aide Carter Page.

The dossier, named for its author, former British spy Christopher Steele, contains explosive and unverified claims that the Kremlin obtained damaging information on Trump and is blackmailing him to do its bidding.

Democrats charge that the Republican memo contains cherry-picked information and distorts the facts.

California Rep. Adam Schiff, the top Democrat on the House Intelligence Committee, has gone as far as to assert that the GOP memo is a deliberate effort at undermining special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation into the Trump campaign’s ties to the Kremlin.

Schiff and his Democratic colleagues maintain that the surveillance of Page was justified because Russian agents had tried to recruit him. Page, who has not yet been charged with any wrongdoing, has well-documented ties to the Russian government and is a target of Mueller’s investigators, according to sources.

After the GOP memo was first released, Schiff blasted his Republican colleagues for voting against declassifying the Democratic appendix.

“We raised of course the transparently political objective behind this, which is to allow the majority to set a certain narrative a week or so before they release a full statement of the facts from the minority,” Schiff told reporters at the time.

 

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