Alice Ollstein contributed reporting.
White House chief of staff John Kelly told reporters Tuesday that he had done an initial review of the Democratic counter-memo to the so-called “Nunes memo” with President Donald Trump and other top officials.
He noted that the Democrats’ memo — which its authors say would counter Nunes’ unsubstantiated claim that the FBI and Justice Department showed anti-Trump bias in their application for a warrant to surveil former Trump campaign adviser Carter Page — was “lengthier” and “not as clean” as Republicans’, possibly signaling that the White House would redact some of it as a condition of its release.
“He’ll have a decision to make as to what, you know, what he wants to do with it,” Kelly told reporters, describing the choice Trump faces.
“Should he do the same thing he did on the first memo and essentially declassify it, or should he declassify it with some redactions?”
The chief of staff told reporters that Deputy Attorney General had “helped the President understand the differences” between the two memos.
Kelly added that he set a Thursday deadline for the Department of Justice and FBI; the Office of the Director of National Intelligence; and national security lawyers at the White House, led by White House counsel Don McGahn, to be ready to fully brief Trump.
“The teams are doing exactly the same thing on this one that we did on the first one,” he said, describing the briefing preparations.
Kelly did note what he characterized as differences between the memos: Democrats’, he said, “is not as clean a memo as the first one,” and is “more lengthy.”
He was asked whether the White House was leaning towards approving its release.
“No,” he replied. “I would say this is a different memo than the first one. It’s lengthier. Well, it’s different. And so not leaning towards it. It’ll be done in a responsible way. But, again, where the first one was very clean relative to sources and methods, my initial cut is this one is a lot less clean.”
But, Kelly hedged, “at the end of it all, it’ll be guys like Rod Rosenstein, Chris Wray from FBI, certainly the national security attorneys at the White House giving the President a recommendation.”