With declassification, Trump preps latest Russian Federation probe punch


The White House on Monday evening announced that Trump would declassify a portion of a secret surveillance warrant application and also direct the Justice Department to release text messages and documents involving several top Justice Department and FBI officials whom he has attacked over the past year, including former FBI Director James Comey.

Former law enforcement and intelligence officials have likewise expressed deep concern, some going as far as to label the president's decision a "serious assault" on the country's justice system.

The move comes after a small group of Republicans in Congress, all staunch allies of Trump, held a news conference last week asking him to declassify the documents.

The material involving Page amounts to 412 pages of documents, comprising an October 2016 bureau application to the secretive Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court for a warrant to monitor Page's communications for three months, and applications to extend the monitoring for three subsequent 90-day periods.

It does not explain why they would be "forced" to release the documents.

The next paragraph reads: "Senior executives at the FBI, Justice Department and Office of the Director of National Intelligence were scrambling Tuesday to respond after being taken by surprise by a White House press release Monday directing them to release classified material they had previously determined should not be made public".

Trump appeared unconcerned Tuesday by the national security implications of the order, tweeting about a supportive congressman and saying, "Really bad things were happening, but they are now being exposed".

A Justice Department spokesperson said Monday evening that the document review process had already begun.

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.

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"Special counsels investigate crimes", he said.

"I have had many people ask me to release them", Trump said.

House Intelligence Committee ranking member Adam Schiff, D-Calif., called Trump's decision to declassify the documents "a clear abuse of power".

"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.

The Republican president also was angered that the FBI was investigating his campaign's ties to Russian Federation and that it did not bring criminal charges against his 2016 Democratic opponent Hillary Clinton over her handling of emails while secretary of state. The Department of Justice released a redacted version of the FISA earlier this year, but lawmakers said it was not enough to show the American people what had actually taken place.

Burr previously broke with his House Intelligence Committee counterparts after they released a memo with details on the Page FISA.

"Transparency wins. This is absolutely the right call from @POTUS", said Rep. Mark Meadows, a North Carolina Republican, on Twitter.

As he often does, Trump denied there was collusion with Russian Federation, except by his opponent, former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton.

Trump has denied colluding with Russian Federation and Russia has denied meddling in the 2016 election, though major USA intelligence agencies agree that Russian Federation interfered. About 30 members of Congress of both parties have had access to FISA applications related to the investigation.