White House seeks revisions to Dems FISA rebuttal memo, halting release



The White House on Friday told Democrats on the House Intelligence Committee to redraft their rebuttal to a controversial GOP memo alleging government surveillance abuse during the 2016 campaign, saying sensitive details need to be stripped out before the document can be made public.

The message was sent to the committee Friday in a letter from White House Counsel Don McGahn.

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

"However, given the public interest in transparency in these unprecedented circumstances, the President has directed that Justice Department personnel be available to give technical assistance to the Committee, should the Committee wish to revise the February 5th Memorandum to mitigate the risks identified by the Department," McGahn continued. "The President encourages the Committee to undertake these efforts. The Executive Branch stands ready to review any subsequent draft of the February 5th Memorandum for declassification at the earliest opportunity."

A letter signed by Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein and FBI Director Christopher Wray accompanied McGahn's response. In that accompanying letter, the two men noted "a version of the document that identifies, in highlighted text, information the release of which would present such concerns in light of longstanding principles regarding the protection of intelligence sources and methods, ongoing investigations, and other similarly sensitive information.

"We have further identified, in red boxes, the subset of such information for which national security or law enforcement concerns are especially significant. Our determinations have taken into account the information previously declassified by the President as communicated in a letter to HPSCI Chairman Devin Nunes dated February 2, 2018."

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