Democrats were livid on Saturday after U.S. President Donald Trump said he would not release the Democratic rebuttal to the Republican intelligence memo alleging FBI abuses of its surveillance authority, sending it back to the House Intelligence Committee for changes.
The House Intelligence Committee voted unanimously earlier in the week to release a memo drafted by Democrats to rebut the Republican document that Trump had declassified a week earlier.
In a letter to the committee, White House counsel Donald McGahn said, according to CNN, "Although the President is inclined to declassify the February 5th Memorandum, because the Memorandum contains numerous properly classified and especially sensitive passages, he is unable to do so at this time."
The memo from Rep. Adam Schiff of California, the top Democrat on the committee, was written to rebut the Republican memo which accused the FBI of suppressing Democratic ties to an opposition research dossier on Trump and Russia used in the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act warrant for former Trump campaign foreign policy adviser Carter Page.
Schiff and other Democrats charge that the Republican memo led by House Intelligence Chairman Devin Nunes of California is misleading and omits key facts, including that the FISA application did state that ex-British intelligence agent Christopher Steele, the author of the dossier, was paid by a political entity.
The Republican document claims that although the FBI had "clear evidence" that the author of the dossier, former British spy Christopher Steele, was biased against then-candidate Trump, it did not convey this to the surveillance court when making its warrant applications.
Trump wrote on Twitter after the release that the memo “totally vindicates” him in the ongoing investigation into his campaign’s alleged links to Russia.
The Nunes memo alleged that senior DOJ officials inappropriately relied on the research, paid for in part by Hillary Clinton, to obtain a surveillance warrant on Trump campaign aide Carter Page. It claims that without the Steele dossier, no surveillance warrants would have been sought.
Senator Chuck Schumer blasted Trump's decision to send the Democratic memo back to the committee.
"The President's double standard when it comes to transparency is appalling. The rationale for releasing the Nunes memo, transparency, vanishes when it could show information that's harmful to him. Millions of Americans are asking one simple question: what is he hiding?" he said.