Pres. Trump declassifies documents related to Russia probe

Posted September 21, 2018

That includes the surveillance authorization documents concerning the bureau's wiretap of Trump campaign advisor Carter Page as well as former FBI Director James Comey's text messages.

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.

Trump has consistently said some in the FBI and Justice Department are biased and tainting the independent investigation into whether his campaign collaborated with Russian Federation to swing the 2016 election in his favor.

In a written statement Monday, White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders said Trump 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".

Trump is taking the extraordinary step in response to calls from his allies in Congress who say they believe the Russian Federation investigation was tainted by anti-Trump bias within the ranks of the FBI and Justice Department.

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.

It is not clear from the statement when the declassification and release of the documents will occur.

Various U.S. intelligence agencies, including the CIA, National Security Agency and FBI, have investigated him for alleged contact he had with Russian officials under U.S. sanctions.

"The applications routinely will contain critically sensitive details about the methods and means by which intelligence investigations gather information, including the identities of sources who may well be endangered if their identity becomes public and who certainly will be dis-incentivized from future cooperation as well", said Bobby Chesney, a national security law professor at the University of Texas. It was signed by House Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi, Senate Democratic Leader Charles Schumer, and the top Democrats on the House and Senate intelligence committees, Adam Schiff and Mark Warner.

William Banks, a Syracuse University national security expert, said that by making the information public, Trump is essentially overruling the decisions of career officials intent on keeping it from foreign intelligence services, terrorist groups and other adversaries. He distanced himself from the Trump campaign in September 2016 while under scrutiny.

"The danger (is that) decisions such as this, especially if they might appear to be politically motivated, suggest that the U.S. Government can't be trusted to keep its own secrets", said the official, speaking on condition of anonymity. The documents were sent to the "wrong person", ABC's sources said, and the documents sat untouched in the field office for weeks, as counterintelligence officials in D.C. began looking into former Trump campaign associate Carter Page and chairman Paul Manafort.

"The Privacy Act is a big hurdle here unless Congress takes control of the materials and tries to release them themselves", Banks said.

Additionally, the US President urged the release of text messages, sent or received by ex-FBI director James Comey, whom Trump fired past year.

"Americans deserve the truth about these egregious actions by government officials", Steve Scalise, the No. 3 Republican in the House of Representatives tweeted late Monday.

"The case should never have been allowed to be brought", Trump added.