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Democratic Rep. Jackie Speier On The Democrats' Memo


The White House has blocked - at least for now - the release of a classified memo written by Democrats on the House intelligence committee. That memo is a rebuttal to an earlier Republican one that had alleged FBI surveillance abuses. President Trump declassified the Republican memo last week. But the Democratic memo? The White House says it just contains too much classified information. We're joined now by Democratic Representative Jackie Speier of California, who is a member of the House intelligence committee. Representative Speier, thanks so much for joining us.

JACKIE SPEIER: Great to be with you.

SIMON: What's your reaction to the president's decision?

SPEIER: I think it was very predictable. This was a political gesture from the very beginning. I think it was actually stirred up by the White House in conjunction with Congressman Nunes. It was sprung on the committee - normally, a committee that works in a very bipartisan fashion. But it was, you know, sprung on the committee literally minutes before it was taken up. And it has been a very politicized, rocky road.

So the three-page document by the Republicans to try and undermine the FBI and the Department of Justice and specifically, the Mueller investigation, by suggesting that somehow Christopher Steele's dossier was responsible for the Carter Page FISA application was just patently false on its face. And when we then developed a Democratic memo that was unlike the Republican version but 10 pages long with footnotes that corroborated all of the statements that were made in it and sent to the White House, of course, they were going to find that it was unacceptable. Now, we actually submitted our memo...

SIMON: Now, but - just in the interest of time, Representative Speier, because our time with you is limited. You've seen that memo. In your judgment, is there anything in it that would compromise national security?

SPEIER: Well, I think everything in both memos should be subject to the Department of Justice redaction. The Republican version was not - we actually submitted ours to DOJ, so they would redact. We're happy to put out a memo with redactions.

SIMON: You know, you could tell us what's in it right now if you want to release the substance of that memo.

SPEIER: Well, not to the extent that the redactions...

SIMON: We have two minutes left. And believe you me, if you want to do that, we'd throw over what's next and make the time.

SPEIER: (Laughter) OK. No, I'm going to abide by the law and by the Department of Justice in its power and request for redactions to protect national security and sources and methods. We're not going to have our allies around the world share with us intelligence anymore if they fear that it's going to be released and jeopardize their own country and their own people. And that's what's at risk here. In the end, the safety of our American people's at risk. And it's unfortunate that this committee, which has always been bipartisan, has become so politicized.

SIMON: Representative Speier, there are reports toward the end of this week that dozens of Trump White House aides with access to high security information, including Jared Kushner, still don't have permanent security clearances more than a year into his presidency. What are the implications of that?

SPEIER: Well, persons that don't succeed in passing a security clearance evaluation should not have access to national security issues and documents. And yet, as you point out, they have. And, again, it's violating basic principles in our government. And I think the reason why there are 40 people that don't have clearances is because the president wants to protect Jared Kushner. And if he fires or terminates all of those people, he'd have to terminate Jared Kushner, who should never have been in the White House anyway. But they got around it by not paying him. Family members are not allowed to serve. But in this case, they, you know, violated the law by - in principle.

SIMON: And I have to ask you - half a minute we have left - Michael Flynn, now Rob Porter. What do you think of the president's judgment of people around him in the White House?

SPEIER: I think the fact that so many of them are being terminated for lying suggests that we have a White House that's full of liars.

SIMON: Democratic Representative Jackie Speier of California, thanks so much for being with us.

SPEIER: My pleasure. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.