Trump, official meet over Dem memo
President Donald Trump met with a top Justice Department official Tuesday to review a classified Democratic memo on the Russia investigation, less than a week after he brushed aside objections from the same agency over releasing a Republican account.
The dueling memos – and Trump’s silence so far on whether he will release the Democratic version – have set up a standoff between Trump and congressional Democrats and deepened partisan fights on the House intelligence panel. The memos have become the recent focus of the committee’s probe into Russian meddling in the 2016 election, taking attention away from investigations into whether Trump’s campaign was involved.
The Democratic document is intended to counter the GOP memo, which criticized methods the FBI used to obtain a surveillance warrant on a onetime Trump campaign associate. The president has until the end of the week to decide whether to make it public.
On Tuesday, White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders said Trump met with Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein to discuss differences between the two memos, and “we are undergoing the exact same process that we did with the previous memo, in which it will go through a full and thorough legal and national security review.”
The House panel voted unanimously Monday to release the Democratic memo, sending it to the White House.
Separate Russia investigations are underway by the Senate intelligence committee and special counsel Robert Mueller, whose team is scheduled to interview former White House chief strategist Steve Bannon next week.
The Mueller interview was confirmed by two people familiar with it. They spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to speak publicly about details of the interview.
Bannon is expected to face questions about key events during his time in the White House including Trump’s firings of former national security adviser Michael Flynn and former FBI Director James Comey.
Also Tuesday, the House intelligence committee gave Bannon another week to negotiate the terms of a closed-door interview as the White House has put limits on what he can tell Congress. Bannon was under subpoena to appear Tuesday as part of the panel’s Russia probe, but Republicans pushed the deadline to next week as talks about the terms of his interview continued.