Trump Meets Rosenstein About Democratic Surveillance Memo

WASHINGTON—President Donald Trump met Tuesday with Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein to discuss a classified Democratic memo rebutting GOP allegations of partisan motives in the federal investigation of his former campaign aide, as the White House decides whether to authorize the document’s release.

White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders said Tuesday that the president met with Mr. Rosenstein “to discuss some of the differences” between the Democratic memo and the Republican document it addresses, which was released last week. She said the White House was “in the middle” of a legal and national-security review of the Democratic memo expected to take “several days,” after which the president would be briefed.

White House Chief of Staff John Kelly told reporters earlier Tuesday that Mr. Trump hadn’t yet read the Democratic document. “He has it. It’s pretty lengthy,” Mr. Kelly said of the 10-page memo. “We’ll get some people down to brief him on it.”

The GOP-controlled House Intelligence Committee on Monday voted unanimously to release the Democratic memo defending the federal investigation into Carter Page, a former foreign-policy adviser on the Trump campaign. Democrats drafted that document in response to a GOP-authored memo released last week that suggests wrongdoing in how the government got warrants from a federal judge to conduct surveillance on Mr. Page.

Mr. Trump has a five-day window following Monday’s House committee vote to decide whether to approve or reject the document’s release, or identify any redactions. If he rejects it, the full House of Representatives can consider whether to override that decision.

Democrats said the GOP memo was an attempt to discredit a wide-ranging Justice Department probe, led by special counsel Robert Mueller, into possible collusion between the Trump campaign and Russia during the 2016 presidential campaign. That investigation, which is also looking into potential obstruction of justice by the president and his aides, has returned indictments of two Trump campaign aides and guilty pleas by two other advisers.

Mr. Rosenstein, whom Mr. Trump was meeting with on Tuesday, oversees the special-counsel investigation and is named in the GOP memo as having approved one of the applications to continue surveillance of Mr. Page. One person close to Mr. Trump said last week that the president’s interest in releasing the GOP memo stemmed in part from his belief that it would undermine Mr. Rosenstein’s credibility.

Mr. Trump hailed last week’s GOP memo as backing up his assertion that the overall Russia investigation is politically tainted, although House Speaker Paul Ryan (R., Wis.) and several congressional Republicans have said the GOP memo carries no wider implications for the Mueller probe, which has ensnared several top Trump advisers. Ms. Sanders said Tuesday that the GOP memo “clearly vindicates the president’s position that there was political bias in this process.”

Mr. Trump has denied any collusion or obstruction.

The White House had to sign off on the release of the GOP memo last week, which it did over the objections of top Federal Bureau of Investigation officials.

Earlier Tuesday, Mr. Ryan reiterated that he supported releasing the Democratic memo, provided that it doesn’t reveal any sensitive intelligence information.

“Republicans are for letting all of this information out there provided that we scrub for sources and methods,” Mr. Ryan told reporters. “The Republican memo was written to make sure that sources and methods were not compromised so that full disclosure could occur. We do not now know if that’s the case for the Democratic memo—it has to go through that scrubbing process.”

Mr. Ryan added that uses of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act, which played into the surveillance of Mr. Page, should be scrutinized.

“FISA matters to each and every one of us as citizens. And if our government abused the FISA process, a very unique, selective process, which if mishandled, could complicate and compromise American civil liberties, we should care about that,” Mr. Ryan said.

Mr. Page, who hasn’t been charged with any wrongdoing, has been on the radar of U.S. intelligence since 2013, when Russian spies made an attempt to recruit him. He left Mr. Trump’s campaign in September 2016, a month before prosecutors sought the first surveillance warrant on him, after reports that a July 2016 trip he took to Moscow was of interest to investigators.

Mr. Page has called surveillance of him “baseless” and said Monday evening in a Fox News interview that revelations in the Republican memo were “even worse than I could’ve possibly imagined.”

Democrats say their document is needed to correct a number of misstatements and omissions in the GOP memo. Republicans contended in their memo last week that the FBI’s application for permission to conduct surveillance of Mr. Page in 2016 didn’t give the judges who signed the warrant enough information about the partisan source of some of it.

But according to people familiar with the warrant, the application for surveillance did say that the research was linked to people or groups with a political motivation or political affiliations.

Write to Rebecca Ballhaus at and Byron Tau at

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