Rep. Adam Schiff (D-CA), the ranking member on the House Intelligence Committee, said Wednesday morning that Democrats are working with officials at the FBI to make some redactions to their memo in the hopes that the White House will then approve the memo for public release.
Schiff told reporters at a breakfast hosted by the Christian Science Monitor that the FBI identified all portions of the Democrats’ memo that are classified and that Democrats are now looking for a subset of those sections that should be held either to protect sources and methods or because of investigative interest. Schiff added that a lot of what the FBI identified as classified is already in the public domain.
He argued that the question should not be over what is classified but what should be declassified due to public interest.
“We’re in good, I think, discussions with the FBI,” Schiff said Wednesday.
Schiff said Tuesday night on CNN that the Democrats will not make any changes to the memo, but will continue to work with the FBI on redactions.
The ranking member said that he suspects the White House directed the FBI to identify anything that was classified in the Democratic memo, though he cautioned that he does not know for sure.
Schiff said that by going through this redaction process with the FBI, he hopes to at least gain “visibility” on any difference between what the FBI wants redacted for investigative reasons and what the White House may want redacted for political reasons.
“When we reach agreement with the FBI, is that the end of the matter or will the white House still put a veto on it?” he asked rhetorically.
Schiff said that if Democrats and the FBI come to an agreement on what needs to be redacted from the memo, he hopes that will at least produce “visibility that if the White House still refuses to publish the document, they can no longer try to hide behind anyone else.”
“It’s pretty clear that the president has no concern over national security information that trumps his personal concerns because he said that he was publishing the Nunes memo without even reading it, and over the strenuous objections of the FBI and the Department of Justice,” he said.
Schiff also noted that the FBI has not identified issues with accuracy in the Democratic memo, as the bureau did with the Republican memo.
“The FBI has as far as I can tell, has taken no issue with the accuracy of what we’ve written,” he said.
Schiff has been highly critical of efforts by Republicans on the House Intelligence Committee to release their memo alleging misdeeds at the FBI and Justice Department, and on Wednesday he warned that the memo could hurt the committee’s relationship with the intelligence community.
“It certainly will make the intelligence community less willing to share material information with us for fear of how it will be handled,” he said, adding that he suspects the intelligence community already had concerns prior to the memo’s release due to Nunes’ “broadsides” against the DOJ in an attempt to obtain information on surveillance applications.
“The more significant consequence may be that sources that provide information to the intelligence community may be more wary of doing so if they think that our committee or any other on the Hill will not jealously guard that information,” Schiff added.