Trump blocks release of Democrats' memo on probe

US President Donald Trump speaks to reporters in the Oval Office at the White House in Washington US

US President Donald Trump speaks to reporters in the Oval Office at the White House in Washington US

Last week, House Intelligence Committee Republicans released a memo alleging serious accusations of bias against Donald Trump at the Department of Justice, FBI, and in the Obama administration that served as the impetus behind the Russian investigation.

White House counsel Don McGahn on Friday wrote a letter to Rep. Devin Nunes (R-CA), the chair of the House Intelligence Committee and author of the Republican memo, that Trump is "inclined to declassify" the Democratic memo - but, he said, because the document contains "numerous properly classified and especially sensitive pages", the president isn't able to do so.

"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.

"Although the president is inclined to declassify the February 5 memo, because the memorandum contains numerous properly classified and especially sensitive passages, he is unable to do so at this time", McGahn said.

The Democrat memo, which is much longer than four pages, stresses the role of Russian interference in the 2016 election, and is understood to highlight potential collusion between Mr Trump's compaign and the Kremlin.

"The President's decision to block the Democratic memo from release is part of a risky and desperate pattern of cover-up on the part of the President", she added.

"Trump's refusal to release all of the facts is another case of the White House putting Trump's personal interests ahead of the public interest, " said Rep. Terri Sewell, D-Ala., a member of the House intelligence committee. Ultimately, the decision may not be up to Trump, but he continued his offensive against the Democrats' counter memo on Saturday morning.

"The White House ignored [the DOJ and FBI's] concerns and approved the publication of the Republican memo with no redactions even though the action was described by the agencies as extraordinarily reckless and omitting material facts", the representative said.

At the committee's Monday meeting where it voted to release the memo, Nunes expressed concerns that the Democratic memo went further than the Republican document in disclosing sources and methods. "We're going to release a letter".

House Democratic Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi called Trump's move to block the memo a "stunningly brazen attempt to cover up the truth about the Trump-Russia scandal from the American people". Currently, Republicans hold majorities in both chambers. "The hypocrisy is on full display", she said.

The FBI had previously issued a highly unusual warning against releasing the memo from Republican Nunes, saying it could jeopardize U.S. intelligence collection methods.

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