According to the Washington Post, President Trump is not playing fair with the House Intelligence Committee memos.
He let the Republican memo be made public over the objections of the FBI, but he has refused to approve the release of the Democratic memo.
The dueling memos discuss the congressional investigations into how the FBI and Department of Justice handled the investigation into the Obama administration’s use of the Foreign Intelligence Security Act courts during the presidential campaign and transition.
The four-page Republican memo, written by Intelligence Committee Chairman Rep. Devin Nunes (R-Calif.) said a document paid for by the Clinton campaign and whose findings were in some cases third- and fourth-party accounts of events, was used to get a warrant to spy on a man briefly involved with the Trump campaign.
Democrats responded with a 10-page memo that took issue with some items in the Republican memo. The committee voted to release the memo, which gave President Trump five days to review it and either refuse to declassify it or let it become public.
He quickly approved of releasing the Republican memo, but he has ordered Democrats to redact portions that compromise sources and methods of American intelligence agencies and “return in proper form,” as he tweeted.
Aaron Blake of the Post said there is more to it than the need to redact sensitive information.
“After the House Intelligence Committee voted this week to release a Democratic rebuttal to the Nunes memo, White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders assured us that the White House would be evenhanded,” Blake wrote. ‘As stated many times,’ Sanders said, ‘the administration will follow the same process and procedure with this memorandum from the minority as it did last week when it received the memorandum from the majority.’
“That is simply not what happened.”
Blake’s case is President Trump told a congressman after the State of the Union speech that he would “100 percent” release the Republican memo, even though the FBI objected. But FBI objections were enough to get him to order the Democrats to fix theirs.
“In this case, by contrast, the White House wasn’t nearly so eager to commit to a memo’s release and is now suggesting it is bowing to concerns from the very same federal law enforcement entities whose objections it disregarded last time. It will argue that it is just handling classified information with care, but it did not demonstrate that level of care last week when it forced through the Nunes memo.”
The FBI’s objection to the Republican memo was that it “left out key facts and was misleading,” Blake wrote. Its objection to the Democrats’ memo, according to a letter from Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein and FBI Director Christopher Wray, were concerns over “longstanding principles regarding the protection of intelligence sources and methods, ongoing investigations, and other similarly sensitive information.”
But never mind that President Trump has urged Democrats to fix their memo and resubmit it so it can be released and the Intelligence Committee had voted along party lines to release the Republican memo but unanimously to release the Democratic memo.
“Having said all of this, could it simply be that the Democratic memo contains more sensitive classified information than the Nunes memo did? Sure,” he writes. “Is it possible there will be only minor changes? Sure. And it would sure seem that the Justice Department would want to make certain that the Democratic memo still does a good job countering some key claims from the Nunes memo, given how federal law enforcement’s reputation is on the line.
“But with all this happening behind closed doors, we simply don’t know. What we do know is that the White House didn’t treat these memos the same, as it promised it would.”
But it reviewed both memos. The difference is only one needed to go back to the drawing board.