Trump Orders Declassification Of Documents In Russia Investigation

Marsha Scott
September 21, 2018

USA intelligence officials were "blindsided by President Donald Trump's order that they make public highly sensitive files in the Russian Federation investigation" and are "hoping the White House will allow them to conduct a formal declassification review and damage assessment before they are forced to release the documents, current and former officials tell NBC News", the story states in the first paragraph.

Finally, Trump directed the Justice Department to release, without redactions, text messages relating to the Russian Federation probe from former FBI Director James Comey, former FBI Deputy Director Andrew McCabe and other officials, including FBI agent Peter Strzok.

The House committees investigating special counsel Robert Mueller's Russian Federation probe are planning this week to interview senior Justice Department official Bruce Ohr's wife, Nellie Ohr, who worked as a contractor for Fusion GPS, the research firm that hired Steele to investigate Trump's personal and business ties to Russian Federation.

White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders announced Trump's decision in a written statement, saying the president had directed the Office of the Director of National Intelligence and the Justice Department to declassify the documents "at the request of a number of committees of Congress, and for reasons of transparency".

North Carolina Republican Rep. Mark Meadows, the chairman of the conservative House Freedom Caucus and a close ally of the President, praised the move.

"President Trump, in a clear abuse of power, has chose to intervene in a pending law enforcement investigation by ordering the selective release of materials he believes are helpful to his defense team and thinks will advance a false narrative", Rep. Adam Schiff, D-Calif., said in a statement that also raised concerns about the possibility that intelligence sources and methods could be compromised by the release ordered by Trump.

In statements Monday evening, the Justice Department and the office of Director of National Intelligence Dan Coats said they are working together to comply with Trump's order, which triggers a declassification review by various agencies "to seek to ensure the safety of America's national security interests".

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It is not yet known when the government will release the documents. Critics of the move say the president has a clear conflict by trying to discredit an investigation in which he himself is a subject.

Earlier Tuesday, Trump quoted Rep. Peter King, R-New York, on Twitter, saying: "What will be disclosed is that there was no basis for these FISA Warrants, that the important information was kept from the court, there's going to be a disproportionate influence of the (Fake) Dossier". The Department of Justice released a redacted version of the FISA earlier this year, but lawmakers said it was not enough to show the American people what had actually taken place.

Representative Adam Schiff, the top Democrat on the House of Representatives Intelligence Committee, sharply criticized Trump.

Trump made a similar move in February when the White House, over the objections of the Federal Bureau of Investigation and intelligence community, cleared the way for the Republican-led House intelligence committee to release a partisan memo about the surveillance warrant on Page.

The first point was that they were shocked by the president's order, which makes little sense since he has been vowing to declassify the documents for months.

"I've said before that I prefer not to see things released publicly and it holds true for this as well", Burr told reporters Tuesday. But those documents were heavily redacted, with entire pages blacked out. McCabe denied the charges.

Other reports by MaliBehiribAe

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