Sunday, 21 October, 2018

Trump Orders Declassification Of Key Russia Docs, Text Messages

Oliver Contreras – Pool  Getty Images Donald Trump Oliver Contreras – Pool Getty Images Donald Trump
Patty Aguilar | 20 September, 2018, 21:18

Political reaction was swift and divided across party lines following the president's order to declassify several documents related to the government's Russian Federation investigation, including pages of the FISA application to surveil former Trump campaign adviser Carter Page.

The documents include parts of the secret application to the court overseeing the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act that led to the monitoring of former Trump campaign foreign policy adviser Carter Page, and which ultimately resulted in the investigation led by special counsel Robert Mueller.

US President Donald Trump said on Wednesday he is not anxious about what his former campaign chairman Paul Manafort, who is cooperating with the US special counsel's probe into Russian election meddling, will tell prosecutors, as long as he is truthful.

A statement from White House press secretary Sarah Sanders said the directive was made "at the request of a number of committees of Congress, and for reasons of transparency".

Meanwhile, Democratic Rep. Adam Schiff, the ranking member on the House Intelligence Committee, called Trump's move a "clear abuse of power" meant to intervene in the Russian Federation investigation by "ordering the selective release of materials he believes are helpful to his defence team and thinks will advance a false narrative".

House Freedom Caucus Chairman Mark Meadows, one of the Republicans leading the calls for declassification, tweeted his support for Trump's decision, saying, "Transparency wins".

Trump, in an interview with The Hill, said the release of the documents could become the "crowning achievement" of his presidency if they prove that the investigation began as a "hoax".

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

"As requested by the White House, the ODNI is working expeditiously with our interagency partners to conduct a declassification review of the documents the President has identified for declassification", ODNI spokesperson Kellie Wade said.

Schiff added that the DOJ and Federal Bureau of Investigation had previously informed him that the release of some of those materials would cross a red line because it could compromise sources and methods. President Trump, however, has the ability to supersede these agencies and remove the redactions entirely, if desired.

Trump directed the DOJ and Office of the Director of National Intelligence to release the documents.

"Between the compromise of sources and methods, the impact on the willingness of people to cooperate, and the potential of selective release of classified material for partisan purposes, I think intelligence officials will find it very troubling".

Parts of the Carter Page surveillance application were made public in July, but they were heavily redacted.

Warrants to monitor the communications of a suspected agent of a foreign power are a common tool in counterterrorism and counterintelligence investigations, but they're applied for before a secret court.

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