Wed, Feb 07, 2018 - Page 7 News List

US House panel votes to release Democrats’ memo

DECLASSIFY:The US president, who had backed the release of a Republican memo claiming the FBI had abused its powers, has five days to review the Democrats’ rebuttal


A US House of Representatives panel on Monday voted unanimously in favor of publicly releasing the Democratic rebuttal to US President Donald Trump and fellow Republicans’ claims that the FBI abused its powers while investigating his campaign.

“The vote was unanimous to release this,” US Representative Adam Schiff, the top Democrat on the Republican-controlled House of Representatives’ Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence, told reporters.

The panel’s action sets up a clash with Trump, who has five days to review the request to release the document. Democrats had pushed to have it published after Republicans voted along party lines to declassify their own memo over objections by the FBI and the US Department of Justice.

Trump had strongly backed the release of the Republican memo last week. Should Trump refuse to declassify the Democratic version, a standoff between the White House and Democrats could follow.

Republicans “found themselves in an insupportable position when they released a misleading memo and refused to release the Democratic response, so I think they were compelled to take the action they did today,” Schiff said.

The House panel last week voted to declassify a memo composed by House Intelligence Committee Chairman Devin Nunes that claims Democrat-funded research prompted the FBI to spy on a former Trump campaign aide.

Democrats feared Trump would use the memo as a pretext for firing senior officials and subvert the investigation, led by Special Counsel Robert Mueller, into Russia’s meddling in the 2016 US election and possible coordination between Trump’s camp and Moscow.

Schiff, concerned that the White House might “redact our memo for political purposes,” said he had asked the FBI and Justice Department to review his document and report back on what redactions, if any, they would make to protect classified information.

Top Senate Democrat Chuck Schumer said that, as a matter of “full transparency,” and given that Schiff’s memo is based on the same underlying documents as the Republican’s document, Trump should be fully prepared to release it.

“If he refuses, the American people will be forced to wonder: What is the president trying to hide?” Schumer said.

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