Late Friday, Donald McGahn, Counsel to President Trump released a letter stating that, while President Trump is “inclined to declassify the February 5th Memorandum,” he is unable to do so at this time because the memo contains “numerous properly classified and especially sensitive passages.” The decision to refer the memo back to the Committee was based on a Department of Justice review of the Minority Memorandum. McGahn’s letter stated that President Trump” directed the Justice Department to provide technical assistance to the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence to mitigate the risks identified by the Department.” The results of DOJ review were explained in an accompanying letter from Rod Rosenstein, Deputy Attorney General. Rosenstein returned a marked up version of the Minority Memo which highlighted passages that presents concerns “regarding the protection of intelligence sources and methods, ongoing investigations and other similarly sensitive information.”
Both Devin Nunes, the chairman of the HPSCI and Adam Schiff, the Ranking Minority Member of the Committee issued press releases to respond to the McGahn letter. Both expressed interest in addressing the DOJ concerns so that the Minority memo could be released as soon as possible. Chairman Devin Nunes’ statement stated, “Along with other Intelligence Committee Republicans, I had warned that the Democratic memo contains many sources and methods. Ranking Member Schiff pledged to seek the input of the Department of Justice and FBI regarding the memo’s public release, and it’s no surprise that these agencies recommended against publishing the memo without redactions. Intelligence Committee 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.”
Ranking Member Schiff’s statement said, “The Democratic members of our committee take seriously the concerns of the DOJ and FBI, which is why we both urged the Majority against this course in the first place and why we provided our document to the DOJ and FBI for vetting even before it was voted out of committee. We will be reviewing the recommended redactions from DOJ and FBI, which these agencies shared with the White House, and look forward to conferring with the agencies to determine how we can properly inform the American people about the misleading attack on law enforcement by the GOP and address any concerns over sources and methods. “We hope this matter can be quickly resolved so the committee can return to its charge — fully investigating the Russian interference in our election and the role of the Trump campaign, and what steps need to be taken to protect against foreign interference in the next election, now only months away.”
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