Trump to follow FBI guidance on releasing Democratic memo
- On Monday, the House Intelligence Committee voted unanimously to release the minority memo
- President Trump has five days total to review it for release
- Trump will 'accept the recommendations of the FBI' and put out the memo, CNN reported
- The White House will consider it 'just as we did the Nunes memo'
- Trump had yet to read the memo Tuesday said chief of staff John Kelly
- On Friday, the Republican-penned memo was released that showed the 'dirty dossier' was used to justify FISA spying on Trump associate Carter Page
- That memo charged bias in investigators who probed Donald Trump aides on Russia
- This, according to President Trump, was enough to 'totally vindicate' him – as Republicans long have tried to taint the Russia probe by tying it to the dossier
- The dossier, compiled by former British spy Christopher Steele, was paid for by a Republican, and then the Democrats and Hillary Clinton's campaign
- The GOP memo also revealed, however, that the Russia probe was sparked by claims Trump associate George Papadapoulos made to an Australian diplomat
- On Sunday, Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer wrote to President Trump urging him to green-light the release of the Democratic memo as well
Published: 18:47 GMT, 6 February 2018 | Updated: 22:01 GMT, 6 February 2018
President Donald Trump will defer to the FBI as he decides whether to release a Democratic memo that rebuts many of the arguments put forward in an explosive memo drafted by Intelligence committee Republicans.
Trump has five days to decide whether to release the document, after the Intel panel voted unanimously Monday to put it out.
As he weights the decision, a source close to the process told CNN, 'He'll accept the recommendations of the FBI and the intel community.'
'This will be handled by the book,' a source close to the process said of the review.
Last week, when deciding whether to put out a GOP drafted memo, Trump cast aside objections by FBI Director Christopher Wray as well as deputy attorney general Rod Rosenstein.
President Donald Trump has five days to decide whether to declassify a Democratic memo that the House Intelligence Committee voted unanimously to release. It seeks to rebut a GOP memo that Trump put out last week
Trump had yet to read the memo Tuesday said chief of staff John Kelly, but will meet with staff on it later today.
Asked if Trump had read the memo, Kelly replied: 'He has it. It's pretty lengthy.' He was then asked if Trump had read the whole thing, Kelly replied: 'No, no, I just gave it to him.' Asked whether Trump would read it later Tuesday, Kelly responded: 'Oh, of course, yeah. We'll get some people down to brief him on it.'
Democrats fear redactions could limit the effectiveness of the memo to make its case, and Republicans are already planning to try to put out another of their own memos to dispute it.
'We are in the middle of what I call 'phase two' of our investigation, which involves other departments,” House GOP Intel panel chair Rep. Devin Nunes of California told Fox News on Friday after the memo's release. 'Specifically the State Department and some of the involvement they had in this,' he said.
The earlier memo, pushed by Nunes, accused the FBI of bias against Trump and sewed doubts about a surveillance warrant of former Trump campaign advisor Carter Page.
Sources told CNN and Reuters that Democrats are expected to push for a vote Monday to get their version of the memo released. Rep. Adam Schiff (pictured), the Democrats' top member on the House Intelligence Committee, has been critical of only the GOP memo's release
Following the release of the memo, Wray sent a letter to FBI staff in order to rally the troops.
He thanked them for 'standing strong together, and for keeping your faith in this institution that means so much to all of us.'
He added: 'Talk is cheap; the work you do is what will endure,' and told them: 'I'm determined to defend your integrity and professionalism every day.'
The new Democratic memo, crafted by Democratic staff and demanded by top panel Democrat Rep. Adam Schiff of California, seeks to tear down the earlier memo's arguments.
'We will be considering it just as we did the Nunes memo,' White House spokesman Raj Shah told reporters traveling with the president Monday. But Shah also said: 'I'm not gonna characterize his feeling' about it.
Republican members of the panel had signaled in advance they would support making it public. The vote – which followed a highly fractured vote over the release of an explosive a GOP memo – was unanimous.
The memo's fate now lies in Trump's hands. He has five days from the vote in which to declassify it to allow its release.
Otherwise, Democrats can try to push for its release with a vote by the full House, where the Republicans hold a strong majority.
Democrats had howled in protest on Friday when the panel released – and then President Trump approved – a GOP memo drafted by staff and panel chair Rep. Devin Nunes.
The GOP memo argued that investigators relied on the 'Steele Dossier,' which got funded by the Clinton camp and the Democratic party, in order to get a surveillance on Trump campaign advisor Carter Page.
Democrats charged that back putting it out, Republicans were trying to give Trump ammunition to get rid of Russia investigation overseers like special counsel Robert Mueller or deputy attorney general Rod Rosenstein.
The action came on a day when Trump mocked the panel's top Democrat, Rep. Adam Schiff, as 'little Adam Schiff.'
Now that the memo is coming out, Schiff said he hopes the White House won't impose redactions that might skew its meaning.
For the second time in two weeks, the president will get to decide whether to declassify a memo that the House Intelligence panel voted to release
The president over the weekend said the GOP memo had 'totally vindicate[d] 'Trump,'' by alleging FBI surveillance abuse.
The president didn't respond to shouted questions Monday about whether he would release the Democratic memo.
White House spokesman Raj Shah didn't use definitive language when asked about the memo Monday before its release.
'If that memo is voted out and it comes to the White House we will consider it on the sale terms we considered the Nunes memo. Which is, to allow for a legal review, national security review led by the White House Counsel's Office,' Shah said.
Both CNN and Reuters reported Sunday that Democrats planned to offer a motion Monday that would release their memo and, if approved, would then send the matter to President Trump, who would have five days to stop the document's release.
Last week, the release of the GOP-penned memo was central to the drama in Washington, with the FBI and President Trump's own Justice Department squaring off against the president and his Republican allies in Congress.
Trump said the memo 'totally vindicates 'Trump'
Schiff hit back after Trump mocked him on Twitter
President Trump, seen Sunday in his motorcade returning to Mar-a-Lago after a trip to his golf club, proclaimed Saturday night that he's been vindicated, after the release of a GOP-penned memo suggested the 'dirty dossier' was used as a reason to snoop on a campaign associate
President Trump has reveled in the GOP memo being released, saying Saturday that the content of the memo 'totally vindicates 'Trump,'' because it said that the Clinton campaign-funded 'dirty dossier' was used in a surveillance warrant for one of Trump's associates
President Trump (pictured) and his Republican allies have tried to suggest that Special Counsel Robert Mueller's probe is tainted because of the role the 'dirty dossier' has played. The dossier was funded first by a Republican political rival, and then by the Democrats
House Intelligence Committee Chairman Devin Nunes, seen Thursday at the GOP's Congressional retreat in West Virginia, and his fellow Republicans blocked a move by committee Democrats to get their minority memo released. They'll try again Monday
Earlier in the week, House Intelligence Committee Republicans voted to declassify their memo – sending it to Trump – while blocking an attempt by committee Democrats to release the minority memo as well, which would have offered the other party's perspective on the intel.
The Republican memo, which was released Friday, said that the FBI had relied on the so-called 'dirty dossier' when it applied for a FISA surveillance warrant on a Trump campaign associate, Carter Page.
The dossier, compiled by former British spy Christopher Steele, had been funded by an unknown Republican during the 2016 primary cycle, and then by the Democrats and Hillary Clinton's campaign, during the general election.
Republicans have long tried to show that the Russia probe, now being handled by Special Counsel Robert Mueller, was tainted from the beginning because it was sparked by opposition research paid for by the Democrats.
The memo, however, kills that theory, as the documents say that the Russia investigation – including probing Trump links to the Kremlin – was 'triggered' by a different campaign aide, George Papadapoulos.
Papadapoulos pleaded guilty to lying to the FBI last fall and is now cooperating with Mueller's investigation.
In May 2016, Papadapoulos had drinks in London with an Australian diplomat and told him that the Russians had damaging information on Clinton, the New York Times previously reported. Papadapoulos had been told three weeks prior that Moscow had thousands of Clinton's emails.
When leaked emails from the Democrats started appearing online two months later, the Australians warned their American counterparts, which kicked off the Russia probe.
Despite that revelation, Trump tried to sound the horn that he was off the hook.
'This memo totally vindicates 'Trump' in probe,' the president said, using his trademark third-person. 'But the Russian Witch Hunt goes on and on.'
'There was no Collusion and there was no Obstruction (the word now used because, after one year of looking endlessly and finding NOTHING, collusion is dead),' he continued.
'This is an American disgrace!' the president added.
The fact that the White House green-lit the memo's release, against the FBI and Justice Department's wishes and without the minority memo to provide balance, continued to infuriate Democrats on Sunday.
Rep. Adam Schiff, the top Democrat in the GOP-led House Intelligence Committee, called the memo's release a 'political hit job' on ABC's This Week.
'But the goal here really isn't to find out the answers from the FBI. The goal here is to undermine the FBI, discredit the FBI, discredit the Mueller investigation, do the president's bidding,' Schiff charged.
House Speaker Paul Ryan, a Wisconsin Republican, had argued in favor for the memo's release, saying it merely showed Congress 'doing its job and conducting legitimate oversight over a very unique law, FISA.'
Schiff argued that if Republican lawmakers were really that interested in their oversight role than they would have wanted to read the underlying information the memo was based upon and they would have wanted to hear from the FBI.
The ranking member of the House Intelligence Committee, Rep. Adam Schiff (left) told ABC's George Stephanopoulos that the goal in releasing the GOP-penned memo was to 'undermine the FBI, discredit the FBI, discredit the Mueller investigation, do the president's bidding'
The California Democrat said he had put both those options on the table and they had been voted down by the Republican majority.
Now Democrats will push again to get their answer to the memo release.
Schiff had the backing of Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, a New York Democrat, who wrote to President Trump Sunday urging him to release the Democratic memo as well.
'I believe it is a matter of fundamental fairness that the American people be allowed to see both sides of the argument and make their own judgements,' Schumer said in the letter, sent out to reporters.
'A refusal to release the Schiff memo in light of the fact that Chairman Devin Nunes' memo was released and is based on the same underlying documents will confirm the American people's worst fears that the release of Chairman Nunes' memo was only intended to undermine Special Counsel Bob Mueller's investigation,' Schumer said.
Reuters reported that the House Intelligence Committee will meet at 5 p.m. Monday, with Democrats expected to make their move then to get the Schiff-written documents released.