Trump accuses Democrats of politicising memo on FBI issue

| | Washington

President Donald Trump has accused the Democrats of politicising the issue of its blocked memo relating to FBI’s Russia probe and setting up a trap to “blame the White House for lack of transparency”.

““Told them to re-do and send back in proper form!” Trump tweeted a day after refusing to declassify and allow publication of the Democrats’ memo that sought to rebut Republican claims of FBI’s “bias” and “surveillance abuses” in its probe into Russian meddling in the US presidential election.

“The Democrats sent a very political and long response memo which they knew, because of sources and methods (and more), would have to be heavily redacted, whereupon they would blame the White House for lack of transparency,” Trump tweeted on Saturday. Democrats, who have hit out at Trump’s stance as a case of “hypocrisy at its worst”, but have made it clear that they are not going to give up the issue. Congressman Adam Schiff, the top Democrat on the house Intelligence Committee, said on Saturday that he will review redactions recommended by the FBI and Justice Department.

For his part, Republican Devin Nunes, who heads the intelligence committee, asked the Democrats to accept the Justice Department’s recommendations and “make the appropriate technical changes and redactions” so that their memo can be declassified as soon as possible.

Trump, meanwhile, quoted in another Twitter post the assertion by a conservative watchdog group that he has been “victimised” by the predecessor Obama administration. Tom Fitton, president of the Judicial Watch, had alleged in a Fox News interview that the FBI, Department of Justice and the State Department were all used to “dig up dirt” on Trump in the run-up to the 2016 election. Fitton claimed that Trump has been “vindicated” about the controversial dossier, funded by the Hillary Clinton campaign and the Democratic National Committee, that was reportedly used by the FBI to secure warrants against a Trump campaign adviser in the Russia probe.

In another tweet, Trump quoted a report by The New York Times, a newspaper who otherwise disparages as “fake news”, that US spies ended up paying $100,000 to a “shadowy Russian” who promised, among other things, to deliver “compromising material” on Trump. “According to the @nytimes, a Russian sold phony secrets on “Trump” to the US Asking price was $10 million, brought down to $1 million to be paid over time,” Trump tweeted, adding: “I hope people are now seeing & understanding what is going on here. It is all now starting to come out — DRAIN THE SWAMP!” Citing US and European intelligence officials, the NYT reported that US spies delivered the amount, said to be the first instalment in a $1 million payout deal, in a suitcase to a Berlin hotel room in September. The deal was reportedly to be mainly over getting back stolen National Security Agency cyberweapons. But instead of providing the hacking tools, the Russian produced unverified and possibly fabricated material involving Trump and others, including bank records, emails and purported Russian intelligence data, the paper cited the officials as saying.

The report went on to say that the US intelligence officials cut off the deal as they were “wary of being entangled in a Russian operation to create discord inside the American government”, adding they were also “fearful of political fallout in Washington if they were seen to be buying scurrilous information on the president”.

The CIA, however, dismissed the reports, first by Intercept and soon thereafter by NYT, as “fictional”. In a statement provided to CBS News, the CIA commented: “The people swindled here were James Risen and Matt Rosenberg”, the reporters of Intercept and NYT respectively. 



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