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Trump orders declassification, release of Comey texts

21 September 2018
Trump orders declassification, release of Comey texts

- The Justice Department and the FBI are working with the Director of National Intelligence to prepare new declassified versions of documents related to the Russian Federation investigation with redactions, which is part of the typical procedure, following President Donald Trump's highly unprecedented order to declassify several documents and text messages.

Trump on Tuesday demanded the public release of "all text messages relating to the Russian Federation investigation" from James Comey, Andrew McCabe, Bruce Ohr, Peter Strzok, and his former lover Lisa Page.

The documents requested, the White House said in a statement Monday, included key parts of the FISA application to spy on Trump campaign volunteer Carter Page and Federal Bureau of Investigation interviews with former top Justice official Bruce Ohr.

President Trump on Monday ordered the Justice Department to declassify significant materials from the investigation of Russian interference in the 2016 election.

Carter Page is an American oil industry consultant who served as a foreign policy adviser to Trump during his presidential campaign.

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.

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".

Mr Ohr's wife Nellie worked for the opposition research firm that commissioned the creation of the Steele dossier, which contains damaging and unverified claims about Trump. Democrats later countered with their own memo.

Democrats on those same panels have argued that declassification would be a crass political move in advance of contentious midterm congressional elections.

The FBI earlier released in heavily redacted format 412 pages of surveillance applications and court orders related to Page.

Mark Warner, the ranking member on the Senate Intelligence Committee, has read the underlying documents that Trump wants released, and he issued a stark warning following the White House's announcement: "Be careful what you wish for".

And the No. three Republican in the House, Rep. Steve Scalise of Louisiana, tweeted that Trump made the right call.

Republicans, meanwhile, applauded the president for what they described as an effort to promote full transparency. She is slated to testify later this week before the House Judiciary Committee.

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".

"With the walls clearly closing in on him, President Trump is lashing out with this extraordinarily reckless and irresponsible release of classified information in a desperate attempt to distract from the seven guilty pleas and the mounting evidence of multiple criminal enterprises among his closest advisors", they said.

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.

A Justice Department spokesperson said Monday evening that the document review process had already begun. His ouster came as a report from the Department of Justice's inspector general faulted him for misleading investigators looking in to the leak of information for a 2016 Wall Street Journal story about the FBI's probe into the Clinton Foundation.