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Democrats work to get memo released

Published Feb. 11, 2018

WASHINGTON — Democrats on the House Intelligence Committee are prepared to black out parts of their memo about the FBI's Russia investigation to ensure there's no harmful spilling of secrets, then try again to get President Donald Trump to let it come out. A White House aide said Sunday that he's confident it will be released once Democrats "clean it up."

That possible nudge toward progress came as both sides traded steamy recriminations over the matter.

Rep. Adam Schiff of California, senior Democrat on the House Intelligence Committee, said Trump is putting his personal interest above the country's in blocking a memo that "completely undermines his claim of vindication" in special counsel Robert Mueller's continuing investigation of the 2016 Trump campaign's relationship with Russian interests and Russia's meddling in the election. "The president doesn't want the public to see the underlying facts," Schiff said on CBS's Face the Nation.

The White House legislative director, Marc Short, countered that Democrats padded their memo with sensitive information, knowing Trump would stop its release, in an effort to make him look obstructionist.

"We're not afraid of transparency," Short said on NBC's Meet the Press. "I think you're going to see us release the memo."

Trump overrode strong Justice Department objections when he declassified a Republican memo alleging an abuse of surveillance powers in the FBI's Russia investigation. The FBI expressed "grave concerns" about the memo's accuracy and the Justice Department said in advance that its release, without proper review, would be "extraordinarily reckless."

But Trump has blocked the Democratic document, which tries to counter the Republican allegations of surveillance excesses. The president has the authority to keep such information under wraps, and exercised it only against the Democrats.

Schiff said Democrats showed the memo to the Justice Department and the FBI and asked for their feedback before bringing it to the intelligence panel, and did not hear complaints about inaccuracy. But he said Democrats will "sit down with the FBI and go through any concerns that they have" about the disclosure of classified intelligence.

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