By Max Kutner
White House Chief of Staff John Kelly expects the Trump administration to grant the release of a memo written by Democrats on the House Intelligence Committee that will likely stand in contrast to one recently issued by panel Republicans, according to a source who spoke with Kelly.
The House Intelligence Committee is one of three congressional panels investigating Russia’s meddling in the 2016 presidential election and any links to political campaigns.
On Tuesday, Kelly told a source close to the White House that President Donald Trump had not yet reviewed the Democratic memo, but that he expected the White House to approve its release—with some minor redactions for security reasons. Kelly did not speak about the timing of the approval for release, said the source, who spoke on the condition of anonymity to discuss the internal matter.
More publicly on Tuesday, Kelly told reporters that he was “not leaning toward” releasing the memo in its original form. “Where the first one was very clean relative to sources and methods, my initial cut is this one is a lot less clean,” he said. He also said he expected Department of Justice officials and White House lawyers to provide recommendations by Thursday.
On February 2, the White House granted the release of the GOP memo, from the office of Representative Devin Nunes, the Republican chairman of the House committee. The Justice Department and the FBI had attempted to block its release, but the committee decided to invoke a rule that grants the president permission to approve the release of classified material. The memo, released later that day, alleges that Justice Department and FBI officials did not disclose certain background information when seeking a Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act warrant to monitor Carter Page, an adviser to Trump’s 2016 presidential campaign.
On Monday, the committee voted to send the Democratic memo to the White House for review. That 10-page document is supposed to address what the Democratic side, including Representative Adam Schiff, has said are mischaracterizations in the Nunes version.
Schiff told CNN on Tuesday that he is concerned over how much in his version could end up being redacted. He said he was worried about “political redactions…. That is, not redactions to protect sources or methods, which we’ve asked the Department of Justice and the FBI to do, but redactions to remove information they think is unfavorable to the president.”
Since the release of the first memo, Nunes has said he plans to seek the release of additional notes, including a document containing claims about apparent wrongdoing by the State Department.
Also since the release, Senators Chuck Grassley and Lindsey Graham, top Republicans on the Senate Judiciary Committee, made public their own memo containing claims about Christopher Steele, a former spy whose dossier they say led to the efforts to monitor Page. Those senators have made a criminal referral to the Justice Department about Steele.
A White House spokesperson was not available to comment on Wednesday.