Monday 16 September 2019

White House reviews Democratic memo on Russia probe

Donald Trump has five days to consider whether to release the document for the public to read.

The document is under review at the White House (AP)
The document is under review at the White House (AP)

By Mary Clare Jalonick and Chad Day

A memo written by Democrats on the US House intelligence committee as part of its investigation into Russian election interference is under review at the White House, where President Donald Trump will decide whether to allow the public to read it.

Mr Trump last week declassified a document written by the committee’s Republican majority which criticised methods the FBI used to obtain a surveillance warrant on a Trump campaign associate. Mr Trump said that memo showed the FBI and US justice department conspired against him in the Russia probe.

The Democratic memo, intended as a counter to the Republican document, has deepened a partisan divide on the committee, which is supposed to be jointly investigating Russian meddling and possible connections between Russia and Mr Trump’s presidential campaign.

Separate investigations are under way by special counsel Robert Mueller and the Senate intelligence committee.

Adam Schiff expressed concerns about White House redactions on the Democratic memo (AP)

On Monday, the House panel voted unanimously to release the Democratic memo, sending it to the White House for a legal and national security review.

Press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders said after the vote: “The White House has received a memorandum from the minority members of the House Select Permanent Committee on Intelligence.”

She said the Trump administration “will follow the same process and procedure” it did with the Republican document, meaning Mr Trump has five days to decide whether to allow publication.

Mr Trump declared over the weekend that the Republican memo “totally vindicates” him. Both Republicans and Democrats disputed that, and Democrats also criticised the release of formerly classified information and the possibility the precedent could compromise future investigations.

After the House committee vote, congressman Adam Schiff of California, the panel’s top Democrat, said he believed the Democratic document would “help inform the public of the many distortions and inaccuracies in the majority memo”. But he also expressed concern about “political redactions” the White House might make before the document is released.

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