White House plans to let House release GOP memo on Russia probe, if Trump approves it

  • The White House will leave it to lawmakers to release a hotly debated GOP memo on the Russia investigation, if Trump decides to declassify it.
  • Press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders told CNBC that the release could happen Friday, although it's not set in stone.
  • The FBI said this week that the bureau has "grave concerns" about releasing the memo, which has been hyped by Trump supporters and partisan Republicans.
Donald Trump
Jonathan Ernst | Reuters
Donald Trump

A hotly debated Republican memo about the FBI's probe into alleged connections between the Trump campaign and Russia could be released Friday, the White House said.

President Donald Trump is expected to declassify the note, but the White House said Trump will leave it to lawmakers to make it public. The president has yet to make a final decision.

The release could come despite the FBI's "grave concerns" and the Justice Department's objections. However, NBC News, citing White House officials, said that the White House has agreed to some redactions in the memo at the FBI's request. The redactions, though, would not fix Democrats and the FBI's central problem with the memo: that it leaves out important context and information, making it misleading.

An intelligence official told NBC that a formal declassification process is under way, with the Office of the Director of National Intelligence determining which agencies are implicated in the memo, particularly the FBI.

The document was penned by California Rep. Devin Nunes, the Republican chairman of the House Intelligence Committee, who also served on Trump's transition team.

White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders told CNBC that the release could happen Friday, although it's not set in stone. Trump has read the memo, NBC News reported, citing several White House officials.

The White House doesn't plan to directly release the memo, according to spokesman Raj Shah: "That's not the plan right now."

"It's a legislative document, and so, you know, we believe it's appropriate for the legislature to be the ones to roll it out," Shah said.

Shah also said the memo is going through a "process" led by the White House counsel's office that requires input from law enforcement and intelligence officials. Once Trump decides whether to release the memo, the White House counsel's office will let the House Intelligence Committee know.

The panel had voted along party lines to approve the release of the memo, which Nunes put together. The memo, which has been hyped by Trump supporters and partisan pundits, is said to focus on the FBI's alleged use of a dossier compiled by former British spy Christopher Steele, who was paid by Democrats for his investigation of Trump's interactions with Russians.

House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi on Thursday demanded that House Speaker Paul Ryan remove Nunes as chairman of the intelligence panel, saying he has "disgraced" the panel.

The ranking Democratic member of the committee, Adam Schiff of California, released a statement late Wednesday that said Nunes altered the memo after the committee's vote to release it to the White House.

Schiff also wrote a memo to rival the Republicans' document, but the House intelligence panel voted against releasing the Democrat's document.

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