President Donald Trump is expected to tell the House Intelligence Committee that he does not object to the release of a classified memo about the Russia investigation, a senior White House official said Thursday.
The official said the White House had time over the last couple of days to look over the memo “to make sure it doesn’t give away too much in terms of classification,” the official told reporters aboard Air Force One.
“Right now, I think it will be that we tell the Congress, probably tomorrow, that the president is okay with it,” the official added, noting that the ultimate public disclosure of the memo is in the hands of Congress.
The FBI has said it has “grave concerns” about the memo’s disclosure.
Republicans who have seen the memo say it shows that the FBI relied on an opposition research dossier paid for by Democrats to obtain a warrant to conduct secret surveillance on an aide to Trump’s presidential campaign.
Democrats who have seen the memo say it is an inaccurate and misleading attack on the investigation led by special counsel Robert Mueller and is aimed at undermining the FBI.
It was not immediately clear whether the memo would be redacted when it is made public. The senior White House official said, “I doubt there will be any redactions.”
But earlier Thursday, multiple White House officials told NBC News the White House had agreed to some redactions in the memo at the FBI’s request.
The latest developments come less than 24 hours after the top Democrat on the House Intelligence Committee complained that the committee had sent the White House a different version of the classified memo about the Trump-Russia investigation from the one that committee Republicans voted to release to the public.
Rep. Adam Schiff, D-Calif., the Intelligence Committee’s ranking Democrat, said in an open letter to the committee’s chairman, Rep. Devin Nunes, R-Calif., that the situation is “deeply troubling” and the memo should be withdrawn immediately.
The committee voted Monday to release the memo, which was prepared by Republicans, on a straight party-line vote.
An FBI official said that reports that the White House may agree to redactions will not satisfy the bureau’s concerns over releasing the memo. The FBI’s position is that important information is being omitted from the memo and that problem isn’t fixed by any redactions.
However, shortly after the officials said the White House had agreed to some redactions, Press Secretary Sarah Sanders told NBC News: “Nothing has been agreed to at this time. We are still in the review process.”
The FBI warned Wednesday of its “grave concerns” that the document contains “material omissions of fact that fundamentally impact the memo’s accuracy.” The FBI’s unusual statement appeared to be part of a last-ditch lobbying campaign designed to get the White House to reconsider approving the release.
Jack Langer, a spokesman for Nunes, confirmed that the memo had been edited, but said that the changes included “grammatical fixes and two edits requested by the FBI and by the Minority themselves,” referring to committee Democrats.
“The vote to release the memo was absolutely procedurally sound, and in accordance with House and Committee rules,” Langer said. “To suggest otherwise is a bizarre distraction from the abuses detailed in the memo, which the public will hopefully soon be able to read for themselves.”
But a senior Democratic source on the Intelligence Committee disputed that account, telling NBC News that the changes weren’t “cosmetic.”
“Instead, they try to water down some of the majority’s assertions,” the source said.
Senate Democratic leader Chuck Schumer of New York accused Nunes in a statement Wednesday night of working to “undermine the rule of law and interfere with the Russia probe” and calling on House Speaker Paul Ryan, R-Wis., to “put an end to this charade once and for all.” He didn’t suggest how Ryan could do that.
Five career FBI officials met with White House Chief of Staff John Kelly on Tuesday to review what the White House would likely release, according to an official.