Trump declassifies documents related to Russian Federation probe

Posted September 21, 2018

On Monday evening, the White House announced that Trump had directed the Office of the Director of National Intelligence and the Department of Justice (DOJ) "to provide for the immediate declassification" of parts of the FBI's June 2017 application to surveil former Trump campaign aide Carter Page, as well as Federal Bureau of Investigation reports of interviews connected to Page and DOJ official Bruce Ohr.

Trump also ordered the DOJ to release fully unredacted text messages "related to the Russian Federation investigation" from former officials he's continually lambasted given their connections to the investigation, including FBI Director James Comey, former FBI Deputy Director Andrew McCabe, former FBI agent Peter Strzok, former FBI lawyer Lisa Page and Bruce Ohr, a current Justice Department official.

Other documents that are to be declassified in the FISA application include FBI reports of Russian Federation investigation interviews with Ohr, who had had conversations with Christopher Steele, a former British intelligence agent who was hired to compile unverified, unflattering information about Mr. Trump - the so-called "dossier" - during the presidential campaign.

A month ago, the president made headlines when he revoked the security clearance of former CIA Director John Brennan, a persistent Trump critic on TV and on Twitter, who played a role in referring information to the FBI that would spark the bureau's Russian Federation investigation.

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White House Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders announced the decision in a statement Monday noting Trump's decision comes "at the request of a number of committees of Congress, and for reasons of transparency".

"Transparency wins. This is absolutely the right call from @POTUS", said Rep. Mark Meadows, a North Carolina Republican, on Twitter.

But Rep. Adam Schiff of California, the ranking Democrat on the House intelligence committee, called Trump's decision a "clear abuse of power" meant to advance a "false narrative" to help in his defense from Mueller's probe. There's no clear timeline on the release of the documents.

"The President shouldn't be declassifying documents in order to undermine an investigation into his campaign or pursue vendettas against political enemies", Warner tweeted on Monday. She is slated to testify later this week before the House Judiciary Committee.

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"The action (President Trump) has taken, to direct your agencies to selectively disclose classified information that hebelieveshe canmanipulatepubliclytounderminethe legitimacy and credibility of the Special Counsel's investigation, is a brazen abuse of power", the letter reads.

House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) said Monday, "the President is potentially risking the lives of our patriots by compromising sources and methods, all so he can advance falsehoods and false narratives that distract from the truth of the Trump-Russia scandal". "They were recycling old information". Strzok was also recently fired, and has been criticized for sending texts disparaging Trump as a presidential candidate.

The FBI obtained a Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act warrant to spy on Page, who worked on Trump's campaign, in part by submitting a now questioned dossier compiled by former British intelligence official Christopher Steele for Fusion GPS.

Though there are other instances of government officials or contractors spilling government secrets, Chesney said, "What's remarkable about this is it's the White House that's doing it".

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