Trump orders redactions to a Democratic memo a week after declassifying a Republican version

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Donald Trump
Donald
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  • President Donald Trump on Friday blocked the release of
    a 10-page classified memo written by congressional Democrats
    meant to rebut a Republican document he declassified last
    week.
  • The White House said the Department of Justice
    identified portions of the memo that “would create especially
    significant concerns for the national security and law
    enforcement interests.”
  • Last week, Trump overruled objections from the FBI
    about releasing the Republican memo that took aim at senior
    law-enforcement officials.
  • The Republican document, written by House Intelligence
    Committee chair Devin Nunes accuses the FBI and DOJ of
    improperly spying on a former Trump campaign
    associate.


WASHINGTON (Reuters) – President Donald Trump on Friday blocked
the release of a classified memo written
by congressional Democrats to rebut a Republican document that he
allowed to be made public last week that claimed FBI and Justice
Department bias against him in the federal probe of Russia and
the 2016 U.S. election.

The White House said the Justice Department had identified
portions of the memo that “would create
especially significant concerns for the national security and law
enforcement interests” of the country.

A week earlier, Trump had overruled objections from the Federal
Bureau of Investigation about releasing the
Republican memo that took aim at senior
law enforcement officials.

The House of Representatives Intelligence Committee voted
unanimously on Monday to release the 10-page document drafted by
the panel’s Democrats, contingent on the Republican president
agreeing to reclassify it.

Trump on Feb. 2 allowed the release of the
earlier memo written by the committee’s
Republicans, escalating a campaign criticizing current and former
senior law enforcement officials. Democrats said the
Republican memo mischaracterized highly
sensitive classified information and was intended to discredit
Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation of potential
collusion between Trump’s 2016 campaign and Russia.

Mueller is also investigating whether Trump has committed
obstruction of justice in trying to impede the Russia probe.

Trump met on Friday afternoon with officials from the Justice
Department, White House Counsel’s Office and the FBI director,
Christopher Wray, to get their input on
the Democraticmemo, the White
House said.

“Although the President is inclined to declassify the Feb.
5 Memorandum, because
thememorandum contains numerous properly classified
and especially sensitive passages, he is unable to do so at this
time,” White House Counsel Don McGahn said in a letter to Devin
Nunes, the Republican chairman of the House panel.

The White House also released a letter sent to McGahn by Wray and
to Rod Rosenstein, the No. 2 Justice Department official,
expressing concerns about the memo‘s release
“in light of longstanding principles regarding the protection of
intelligence sources and methods, ongoing investigations, and
other similar sensitive information.”

The Republican memo portrayed the Russia
investigation as a product of political bias at the FBI and
Justice Department against Trump. The president said the document
“totally vindicates” him in the Russia investigation, a claim
disputed by Democrats and some Republicans.

Democrats last week warned Trump against using the
Republican memo as a pretext to fire
Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein, who hired Mueller and
oversees the investigation, or to remove Mueller himself. The
Republican memo singled out Rosenstein and
several other officials by name, including former Federal Bureau
of Investigation Director James Comey, who Trump fired in May
2017, as the agency investigated the Russia matter.

Mueller took over the investigation from the FBI.

U.S. intelligence agencies have concluded that Russia interfered
in the 2016 presidential campaign using hacking and propaganda,
an effort that eventually included attempting to tilt the race in
Trump’s favor. Russia denies interfering in the election. Trump
denies collusion with Moscow.

(Additional reporting by Patricia Zengerle and Eric Walsh;
Writing by Will Dunham; Editing by Paul Simao and Daniel Wallis)

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