Trump blocks release of Dems' memo on Federal Bureau of Investigation surveillance

U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson Defense Secretary James Mattis Director of National Intelligence Dan Coats and Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Gen. Joseph Dunford arrive for a closed classified briefing for members of the House of Representa

Earlier Friday, Trump said he had signed off on the memo's release.

The demand that the Democratic document be redacted ensures that the battle over the competing memorandums - which began three weeks ago - will drag on.

Trump refused on Friday to approve the release of the 10-page memo written by Democratic minority members of the House Intelligence Committee.

Trump's delaying move could have the effect of devaluing the impact of the Democratic memo, even if a redacted version is eventually released.

Republicans alleged that there was "clear evidence of [Mr Steele's] bias" against the President and that the former MI-6 officer had "anti-Trump financial and ideological motivations" since his fee for the memo was hired for by a research firm paid by the Democratic National Committee (DNC) and opponent Hillary Clinton.

A letter from White House Counsel Donald McGahn to House Intelligence Chairman Devin Nunes states the Justice Department "has identified portions of the February 5th memorandum the disclosure of which it believes would create especially significant concerns for the national security and law enforcement interests".

His refusal to block the second memo, unanimously approved for release by the GOP-controlled House Intelligence Committee, just a week after allowing the Nunes memo to go public.

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. "Neither one endangers national security".

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The rebuttal was the latest Democratic volley against a Republican assault on the legitimacy of the government's Russian Federation investigation.

"We hope this matter can quickly be 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", Schiff said in a statement.

"After ignoring urging of Federal Bureau of Investigation and DOJ not to release misleading Nunes memo because it omits material facts, (the President) now expresses concerns over sharing precisely those facts with public and seeks to send it back to the same Majority that produced the flawed Nunes memo to begin with", he wrote on Twitter.

The minority memo describes in greater detail why law enforcement officials wanted to conduct surveillance on Page beyond the information contained in the Steele dossier, according to sources familiar with the document.

They argued that the reliance on Steele's material amounted to an improper politicization of the government's surveillance powers.

"While we have more than our share of difficulties, the important oversight work of the committee continues with our staff working together irrespective of party", Schiff said. They could accept Trump's offer for help from the Justice Department to scrub the memo of sensitive information. The Justice Department called releasing the memo "extraordinarily reckless".

"What we saw with the Republican memo is there was no information in there that couldn't be released, so the White House declassified it and said sure feel free to put it out", he said. The White House says the Democrats' response has too much secret information.

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