Pressure builds on Trump to release Dem countermemo

President TrumpDonald John TrumpTrump renews attacks against Tester over VA nominee on eve of Montana rally Trump submits 2017 federal income tax returns Corker: Trump administration 'clamped down' on Saudi intel, canceled briefing MORE is under mounting pressure to allow the release of a Democratic rebuttal to a GOP memo that alleges bias in the FBI’s handling of the Russia investigation.

Trump has until Friday to block the publication of the 10-page document, which right now remains classified. The White House has played coy about whether Trump will allow it to become public.


The president met with Deputy Attorney General Rod RosensteinRod Jay RosensteinRosenstein says Mueller probe is 'appropriate and independent' The Hill's 12:30 Report — Trump requests Turkey's evidence on missing journalist | Takeaways from Texas Senate debate | Key Mueller findings could be ready after midterms Mueller to present key findings related to Russia probe after midterms: report MORE on Tuesday to review the document and “discuss some of the differences” with the GOP document, according to White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders.

Sanders said the Democratic memo would undergo the “exact same” legal and national security review process as the GOP memo.

“We’re in the middle of that process,” she told reporters. “That’ll take several days to complete, as it did the first time, and we’ll make a determination at that point.”

Last week’s release of the GOP-authored memo came over the objections of the FBI, which said it had “grave concerns” that the document painted an incomplete picture of the bureau’s surveillance activities during the 2016 presidential race.

Trump’s decision to allow its release sparked renewed demands for the Democratic countermemo to be made public so that Americans can come to their own conclusion about whether the nation’s top law enforcement agency abused its powers, as the GOP memo claimed.

Republicans on the House Intelligence Committee blocked the simultaneous release of the Democratic countermemo last week, arguing that it should first be available to the entire House for a week.

But even some Republicans have criticized that move as rushed and partisan, and the Intelligence Committee voted unanimously Monday night to send the Democrats’ memo to Trump’s desk for release.

Democrats on Capitol Hill now believe they have the White House over a barrel — Rep. Adam SchiffAdam Bennett SchiffThe Hill's Morning Report — Presented by the Coalition for Affordable Prescription Drugs — Trump travels to hurricane-ravaged Florida, Georgia Dems eye ambitious agenda if House flips Schiff: There is legal precedent for impeaching sitting officials over prior criminal conduct MORE (D-Calif.) described blocking the release as an untenable position — and committee Republicans have brushed aside the notion that Trump will say no.

“I think it’s going to be very hard for the White House to block the release of this,” Schiff said Monday.

Congressional Republicans will be in a tough spot if Trump does oppose the release of the document — a move that would almost certainly ignite a firestorm of claims that he is attempting to obstruct justice.

Under the never-before-used House rule the committee has leveraged to make the two memos public, the power and the pressure to force the release of the document would return to Congress. The full House could convene a vote to override Trump’s veto.

Committee Republicans on Monday declined to speculate on whether they would take that step.

“I don’t think he’s going to do that, but we’ll cross that bridge when we come to it,” Rep. Tom RooneyThomas (Tom) Joseph RooneyCongress falls flat on election security as midterms near Senate panel postpones election security bill markup over lack of GOP support Hillicon Valley: FBI fires Strzok after anti-Trump tweets | Trump signs defense bill with cyber war policy | Google under scrutiny over location data | Sinclair's troubles may just be beginning | Tech to ease health data access | Netflix CFO to step down MORE (R-Fla.) told reporters.

Even though Trump is expected to ultimately accede to the uproar, Democrats are raising alarm bells that the White House could make “political” redactions to their document, designed to help the president rather than to solely to protect intelligence sources and methods.

The White House has not commented publicly about the possibility of redactions.

Republicans appear split on the need for redactions in the document.

According to Rep. Mike ConawayKenneth (Mike) Michael ConawayLawmakers fail to pass annual intel bill after key Dem objects House Intel votes to release Russia transcripts Russia probe accelerates political prospects for House Intel Dems MORE (R-Texas), a senior member of the panel who is leading its investigation into Russia’s election interference, the document has 36 footnotes that he believes “are way too precise” and will almost certainly have to be blacked out — although he noted the main body of the document is likely on sounder footing.

Rooney told reporters that he did not think there was much material in the Democrats’ memo that would need to be redacted, but he said he did not think it was an accurate representation “for a million different reasons.”

The central thrust of the Republican memo, declassified by the president Friday, is that senior Justice Department officials inappropriately relied on a piece of opposition research paid for in part by Hillary ClintonHillary Diane Rodham ClintonMueller's team asking Manafort about Roger Stone: report O'Rourke targets Cruz with several attack ads a day after debate GOP pollster says polls didn't pick up on movement in week before 2016 election MORE’s presidential campaign to obtain a surveillance warrant on Trump campaign adviser Carter Page. It claims that without the so-called Steele dossier, no surveillance warrants would have been sought.

Trump has said the GOP memo “totally vindicates” him.

The Democratic memo is expected to make a point-by-point rebuttal of the assertions in the Republican memo and make the case that the FBI had good reason to spy on Page as part of the counterintelligence probe into the Trump campaign.