On Monday, White House Chief of Staff John Kelly reportedly told FBI Director Christopher Wray and Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein that President Trump is inclined to approve the release of a classified memo compiled by Republican staffers for House Intelligence Committee Chairman Devin Nunes (R-Calif)., but it would first be reviewed by the National Security Council and White House counsel’s office. The Intelligence Committee then voted along party lines to release the Nunes memo, over the objections of the FBI and Justice Department, and block the release of a Democratic point-by-point rebuttal memo.
On Tuesday, White House Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders said that contrary to a report claiming Trump planned to release the Nunes memo after his State of the Union address, “there are no current plans to release the House Intelligence Committee’s memo. The president has not seen or been briefed on the memo or reviewed its contents.” After the State of the Union Address, Trump passed by Rep. Jeff Duncan (R-S.C.), and it sounded like his mind is pretty well made up, according to this exchange captured by C-SPAN.
— CSPAN (@cspan) January 31, 2018
“Let’s release the memo,” Duncan told Trump, who responded, “Oh yeah, don’t worry, 100 percent.” Trump can release the memo at any time or object to its release within five days.
It isn’t clear what Trump or other White House officials know about the memo, which apparently purports to accuse FBI and Justice Department officials of abusing the FISA system to get court permission to surveil Trump campaign adviser Carter Page. On Monday, before the Intelligence Committee invoked the obscure rule to declassify the memo, citing “transparency,” Rep. Mike Quigley (D-Ill.) asked Nunes if he or his staffers were in contact with the White House while compiling the memo, The Daily Beast reports. Nunes replied, “I’m not answering.”