- The Washington Times - Sunday, February 11, 2018

Republicans accused Democrats on Sunday of attempting to score cheap political points by intentionally including information compromising to the intelligence community in their memo rebutting charges of FBI misconduct.

Democrats knew the White House would have to edit or block the document, the Republicans said, thus exposing President Trump to charges of hypocrisy.

Marc Short, White House legislative director, said the president believes Rep. Adam B. Schiff of California, the ranking Democrat on the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence and the author of the memo, intentionally put “methods and sources that he knew would need to be redacted” into the document.

“And if we redacted it, then there would be an outcry that said the White House is trying to edit it,” Mr. Short said on NBC’s “Meet the Press.” “So we’ve said take it back, work with the FBI, clean it up and we’ll release it.”

Last week, the president approved declassification of the Republican memo compiled by Rep. Devin Nunes, California Republican and chairman of the intelligence committee, saying the four-page document did not present any national security concerns, despite Democrats’ insistence to the contrary.

The long-awaited memo accused the FBI of relying heavily on a Democratic-funded dossier by former British spy Christopher Steele to obtain surveillance warrants before the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court. Deputy FBI Director Andrew McCabe said the dossier was necessary to obtain the warrants on Trump campaign volunteer Carter Page, according to the memo.

On Friday, White House counsel Don McGahn said the president could not authorize the Democratic memo to be released because it “contains numerous properly classified and especially sensitive passages” that would “create especially significant concerns for the national security and law enforcement interests.”

Rep. Jim Jordan, Ohio Republican, said Mr. Schiff put the president in a “no-win situation.”

“If he redacts it or doesn’t release it, ‘Oh, he’s not for transparency,’” Mr. Jordan said. “If he released it, he actually jeopardizes sources, methods and potentially lives of Americans and others who help in our intelligence community.”

President Trump tweeted a similar thought Saturday: “The Democrats sent a very political and long response memo which they knew, because of sources and methods (and more), would have to be heavily redacted, whereupon they would blame the White House for lack of transparency.”

Mr. Schiff disputed the notion that the memo was improperly drafted, but when asked Sunday whether it contained sensitive information, he declined to say.

“We’re going to sit down with the FBI and go through any concerns that they have, and any legitimate concerns over sources and methods we will redact,” Mr. Schiff said on the CBS talk show “Face the Nation.”

Mr. Schiff said the Trump administration’s hypocrisy “just kind of reaches out and grabs you by the throat.”

“This is a president who puts his own personal interests above the national security interests of the country,” Mr. Schiff said. “Now they claim when they release the Republican memo that this was in the interest of full transparency and all the White House people were saying full transparency. Well, apparently full transparency only goes so far.”

Republicans have expressed a willingness to release the memo once it’s vetted.

In an interview with Fox News on Sunday, Mr. Nunes said the White House should get it over with and allow the release of the “ridiculous” memo.

“We actually want the Democratic memo out,” he said. “We think it’s ridiculous on the face of it.”

White House counselor Kellyanne Conway implored Democrats to be patient with the process.

“This is serious business, and if it takes a little bit extra time to get the transparency and accountability out there, we should all respect that,” Mrs. Conway said on ABC’s “This Week.” “The president is inclined to declassify it the way he did the other” memo.

Mr. Short, the president’s legislative director, said the White House is “not afraid of transparency.”

“We will be releasing the memo,” he said. “We’ve asked them to clean it up.”

Jeh Johnson, who served as secretary of homeland security under President Obama, said ensuring the document does not compromise sensitive information “shouldn’t be an issue.”

“If taken on face value, what the president is saying is rewrite the memo, and then we’ll declassify it,” Mr. Johnson said on CNN’s “State of the Union.” “There ought to be ways in which the Democrats, the House intel committee, can rewrite the memo without compromising sources and methods and get the full story out about what they feel is misleading about the Nunes memo.”

With all this talk about memos, Mr. Jordan said, the real story has been overlooked.

He said text messages released last week between FBI lawyer Lisa Page and top agent Peter Strzok — who were having an extramarital affair — show that Mr. Obama was keeping tabs on the Russia investigation.

“The big news this week was the text message from Lisa Page to Peter Strzok, where she said ‘POTUS,’ referring to President Obama, ‘POTUS wants to know everything we’re doing,’” Mr. Jordan said.


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