Citing national security concerns, the White House is formally notifying the House intelligence committee that President Donald Trump is "unable" to declassify a memo drafted by Democrats that counters GOP allegations about abuse of government surveillance powers. The Democratic memo offers a rebuttal to the Republican memo's allegations. One of the key complaints in the memo is that the Federal Bureau of Investigation failed to disclose that a dossier compiled by former British intelligence officer Christopher Steele was funded by Democratic operatives looking for information on Trump during the campaign.
The GOP memo - which alleges liberal bias among mostly Republican law enforcement officials at the Justice Department and FBI - was part of a long-standing effort by the president's allies to undermine special counsel Robert Mueller's investigation into ties between Russian Federation and the Trump campaign.
Democrats last week warned Trump against using the Republican memo as a pretext to fire Rosenstein, who hired Mueller and oversees the investigation, or to remove Mueller himself.
In declining to declassify the document, the White House also sent lawmakers a letter signed by Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein and Wray, as well as a marked-up copy of the memo, laying out portions it considers too sensitive to make public.
The dueling memos from different members of the House Intelligence Committee relate to an ongoing investigation by special counsel Robert Mueller of Russian meddling in the 2016 USA presidential election.
Critics of Mueller's probe have used the GOP memo, and other sources, to argue that the inquiry is baseless and spurred by political animus to Trump. He said Trump is still "inclined" to release the memo in the interest of transparency if revisions are made.
The Intelligence Committee voted unanimously on Monday to release the document drafted by the panel's Democrats, contingent on the Republican president agreeing to reclassify it. Some Republicans likewise disagreed with the conclusions being drawn from that document.
Democratic Representative Ted Lieu wrote on Twitter that Trump's action was outrageous, adding that he read the memo and is convinced that Trump "is now intentionally hiding relevant information from the American people in order to mislead the public".
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