Monday, 22 October, 2018

In stunning move, Trump declassifies documents related to Russian Federation probe

Andrew McCabe Modal Trigger Andrew Mc Cabe Getty Images
Jeannette Daniel | 18 September, 2018, 22:20

Several of Trump's allies on Capitol Hill, including Republican Rep. Matt Gaetz of Florida, who requested that the documents be provided, applauded the president's move.

"This is certainly unprecedented", said Robert Litt, the former general counsel of the Office of the Director of National Intelligence during the Obama administration.

Trump's move was clearly aimed at fueling a theory that has simmered for months in right-wing media and on Trump's Twitter feed: That the FBI's investigation into Russian election meddling, which began in July 2016, was tainted by "corruption" from its very start. Democrats weeks later released their own memo.

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".

In addition to the FISA-related material, "about a dozen Bruce Ohr 302s" will also be declassified, Nunes went on to say.

The documents in question are specific pages of the June 2017 FISA warrant application related to onetime Trump campaign foreign policy adviser Carter Page, all FBI interview reports prepared in connection with all FISA warrant applications in connection with Page and all FBI reports of interviews with Justice Department lawyer Bruce Ohr prepared in connection with the FBI's Russian Federation investigation.

The Carter Page warrant was released in heavily redacted form in July, amid controversy over the Federal Bureau of Investigation allegedly using the Democratic National Committee- and Hillary Clinton-funded Steele dossier as grounds for the renewal without informing the FISA court of the Democratic connection. His communications were monitored for almost a year starting in October 2016. Those sections summarize Russian efforts to influence the 2016 presidential election, detail Page's alleged connections to Russian intelligence services and "coordination with Russian government officials on 2016 U.S. Presidential Election Influence Activities", and address his denials of those allegations.

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The unredacted portion also makes clear that some of those suspicions are based on information provided by British ex-spy Christopher Steele, who had been hired by a US firm, Fusion GPS, to do research into Trump's possible ties to Russian Federation.

While it's unclear what exactly will be revealed in the documents, Republicans who have been urging the president to declassify the material posit that it will be evident that the unverified dossier put together by former British spy Christopher Steele played an outsize role in the approval of surveillance warrants of Trump campaign associates.

Among them, James Comey, Andrew McCabe, Peter Strzok, Lisa Page, and Bruce Ohr.

He said it could have a "huge political impact" if the documents are released before the midterms for public viewing.

House Majority Whip Rep. Steve Scalise echoed Graham's praise, saying that Mr. Trump "made the right call", adding that "Americans deserve the truth about these egregious actions by government officials". "His attacks on the most critical institutions of government, and on the professionals who serve within them, should make every American stand up and take notice", he said.

Schiff called the release an "abuse of power", arguing that it compromises the FBI's sources and methods.

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