Despite his commitment earlier Friday, President Donald Trump is blocking release of a Democratic House Intelligence Committee memo rebutting one from the Republican side "because the memorandum contains numerous properly classified and especially sensitive passages," the White House counsel told lawmakers Friday night.
A letter from White House Counsel Donald McGahn to House Intelligence Chairman Devin Nunes, R-Calif., states the Justice Department "has identified portions of the February 5th memorandum the disclosure of which it believes would create especially significant concerns for the national security and law enforcement interests."
"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 told the committee.
Still, "given the public interest in transparency in these unprecedented circumstances, the president has directed that the Justice Department personnel be available to give technical assistance to the committee, should the committee wish to revisit the February 5th memorandum to mitigate the risks identified by the department."
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Trump "encourages" the House Intelligence panel "to undertake these efforts," McGahn wrote, adding "the executive branch stands ready to review any subsequent draft of the February 5th memorandum for declassification at the earliest opportunity."
Earlier Friday, Trump said he had signed off on the memo's release. But White House officials later wavered, saying the president had not made a final decision on whether to clear the Democrats' response to the GOP memo that alleged abuse by FBI and DOJ officials in the early days of the Russia probe.