Now that the White House is poised to approve the release of Democrats’ memo rebutting the controversial Republican-drafted memo from the House Intelligence Committee alleging abuses of the surveillance process by top Justice Department and FBI officials, Republicans in Congress are working to undermine the Democratic memo.
In an interview that aired Tuesday evening, Rep. Trey Gowdy (R-SC), a member of the Intelligence Committee involved in crafting the Republican memo, floated a theory that Democrats purposefully wrote a memo that would need redactions so that they could then attack Trump’s redactions as political censorship.
“I think the Democrats are politically smart enough to put things in the memo that require either the bureau or the Department of Justice to say it needs to be redacted. Therefore, it creates this belief that there’s something being hidden from the American people,” Gowdy told Fox News’ Martha MacCallum.
“Unfortunately, we’re in an environment where you would include material that you know has to be redacted and you know responsible people are going to redact it just so that questions will be asked,” he added.
Gowdy’s comments came after Rep. Adam Schiff (D-CA), the ranking member on the Intelligence Committee, warned on CNN Tuesday morning that Trump could make “political redactions” on the Democratic rebuttal memo.
Rep. Mike Conaway (R-TX), who is leading the House Intelligence Committee’s Russia investigation, made a similar accusation on Tuesday.
“You have to hand it to them; they set themselves up in a really great position,” Conaway said, according to the Washington Post. “The other side will be able to say, ‘Well something politically was redacted out of there,’ and how do you prove that being wrong? Because it’s stuff we can’t tell people about.”
A Republican lawmaker anonymously pushed the conspiracy theory about the Democratic memo to the Washington Examiner, ostensibly in an effort to drum up skepticism about that memo.
“Part of what they are going to do is to talk about how the White House redacted their memo and didn’t redact the Republican one,” one Republican lawmaker told the Examiner. “Part of the plan was, let’s create a document that gets eviscerated in the scrubbing and comes out with a bunch of redactions and they say, look, the White House is hiding something.”
Later in his interview on Fox News, Gowdy aired skepticism for another narrative floated by lawmakers in Congress and President Donald Trump: that the Republican memo proves that the Justice Department and FBI were out to get Trump.
“I never allege a conspiracy when simple incompetence will suffice as an explanation,” he said. “I would not allege that the bureau and the Department of Justice had a conspiracy. I’ve got really serious questions about why they handled things certain ways, but I don’t start with conspiracy.”