President Donald Trump on Monday ordered the immediate declassification of redacted materials in the FBI’s 2017 application to spy on Carter Page, as well as various FBI reports of interviews related to that matter including ones conducted with DOJ official Bruce Ohr.
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.”
The FBI obtained a Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act warrant to spy on Page, who worked on Trump’s campaign, in part by submitting a now questioned dossier compiled by former British intelligence official Christopher Steele for Fusion GPS. Ohr, whose wife works for Fusion GPS, had multiple conversations with Steele about the dossier and the Russia investigation.
In addition to his order to declassify materials involving Page and Ohr, Trump has directed the Department of Justice to publicly release “all text messages relating to the Russia investigation, without redaction, of James Comey, Andrew McCabe, Peter Strzok, Lisa Page, and Bruce Ohr,” Sanders said.
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.”
“It’s time to get the full truth on the table so the American people can decide for themselves on what happened at the highest levels of their FBI and Justice Department,” the North Carolina Republican wrote.
But leading Democrats on the Senate and House Intelligence Committees panned Trump’s decision to declassify “selective” pieces of information that, without broader context, could undermine public faith in the ongoing special counsel investigation into the 2016 Trump campaign’s possible ties to Russia and whether the president has obstructed that investigation.
“President Trump, in a clear abuse of power, has decided 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 of California, the top Democrat on the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence, said in a statement Monday.
Schiff said that FBI and DOJ officials have previously told him they would consider declassification of such materials “a red line that must not be crossed” because they might compromise “sources and methods.”
“This is evidently of no consequence to a President who cares about nothing about the country and everything about his narrow self-interest,” Schiff said.
Sen. Mark Warner of Virginia, the top Democrat on the Senate Intelligence Committee, echoed Schiff in a tweet Monday chastising the Trump’s decision.
“The President shouldn’t be declassifying documents in order to undermine an investigation into his campaign or pursue vendettas against political enemies,” Warner said. “This is how you lose valuable intelligence relationships that keep Americans safe.”
Watch: Strzok Defends Anti-Trump Text Messages: Look at the Context