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Originally published on February 9, 2018 8:12 pm
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ARI SHAPIRO, HOST:

We have some breaking news tonight about those competing Democratic and Republican memos from the House Intelligence Committee. Last week we saw the declassified Republican memo. Tonight the White House says it will not declassify the rebuttal from Democrats. The White House says the Democrats' response has too much secret information. Democrats say this shows that Trump has something to hide.

Congressman Adam Schiff wrote that Democratic memo. He joins us now from California. Welcome back, Congressman.

ADAM SCHIFF: Thanks, Ari.

SHAPIRO: White House counsel Don McGahn says the president is inclined to declassify this memo but unable to do so. Do you believe that?

SCHIFF: Well, I think this is part of a pattern. The president says that he would like to give an interview to Bob Mueller, but his lawyers may be saying, oh, but as much as he would like to, he just can't do it. This seems to be part of that same pattern. Here, the White House, Don McGahn, the president and others express no concern over the opinion of the Department of Justice and FBI when they said that they should not publish the Nunes memo. It was misleading. It omitted material facts. And they were willing to completely ignore that. But now they have this newfound appreciation apparently for the department and the FBI.

You know, the reality is we have wanted to work with the bureau and the DOJ on this from the beginning. We sent them our memo even before we took it up in committee. But it's hard to avoid the hypocrisy here of a White House that is now sending this memo back to the same committee that produced the flawed Nunes this memo.

SHAPIRO: The Nunes memo of course is from the Republican majority. Devin Nunes is the chairman of the committee. This letter from the White House counsel encourages the Democrats on the committee to work with the Justice Department and the FBI to eliminate or change parts so that it can be released. Do you think that's an offer in good faith, and do you plan to take them up on it?

SCHIFF: You know, we have been working with the FBI and the Department of Justice all along - have been in consultation with them. No, I think this is the way that the White House punts back to the committee. They know they have a favorable majority on the committee. They know that the chairman, you know, views his mission as protecting the president. So they wish to send this memo back to the committee.

But look; we're going to sit down with the FBI and the Department of Justice. We'll see if we can work our way through this. But it's very hard I think for the White House to justify this decision considering they paid no heed whatsoever to the FBI and department's concerns previously.

SHAPIRO: Just to be clear, is your argument here, Republicans were allowed to damage national security by releasing this memo, so Democrats should be allowed to do the same? Or is your argument that even though the Republican memo hurt national security, the Democrats' response would not?

SCHIFF: No. Precisely my point is we should have never put out the flawed memo to begin with. We warned the majority this was a bad idea. But no, we've always wanted to handle classified information - the committee - responsibly. We've always vetted everything that we've done through the FBI and the Department of Justice. Where I'm concerned is the majority puts out a spin memo that omits material facts according to the FBI that make it false, and then we can't release the actual facts that prove the falsity of the Nunes memo. So...

SHAPIRO: So just with the few seconds remaining, what is your next move?

SCHIFF: My next move is to sit down with the FBI and Department of Justice and work with them in good faith and see if this can be resolved so that we can clarify the misleading nature of the Nunes memo and make sure we protect sources and methods.

SHAPIRO: Congressman Adam Schiff of California is the ranking Democrat on the House Intelligence Committee. Thank you for joining us tonight.

SCHIFF: You bet. Thank you. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.