The Justice Department and the FBI are working to address President Trump’s demands for the “immediate declassification” of documents and text messages regarding the Russia probe and Carter Page, despite requests from Democrats this week to delay the process until meeting with Congress.
Three unnamed sources told Bloomberg, after the FBI and DOJ complete their review of documents, they will submit them with any proposed redactions to the Office of the Director of National Intelligence to prepare for the White House. Though, Mr. Trump could press the agencies to remove the redactions.
On Tuesday, Minority Leaders Nancy Pelosi and Chuck Schumer, Rep. Adam Schiff and Sen. Mark Warner sent a letter to U.S. intelligence leaders pressing them to halt the declassification process until briefing the Gang of Eight.
“The action he has taken, to direct your agencies to selectively disclose classified information that he believes he can manipulate publicly to undermine the legitimacy and credibility of the Special Counsel’s investigation, is a brazen abuse of power,” the letter read.
The top Democrats argued that Deputy Attorney General Rosenstein and FBI Director Christopher Wray should not be able to give the Trump administration access to information about the Russia investigation while it is still ongoing.
The briefing must address the details of the review process, including what role the White House will have, any proposed redactions, and plans to comply with privacy laws.
“Your agencies review and any communication with the White House on the substance of the materials, should not proceed further until you have briefed the Gang of Eight in person,” the letter read.
The president said Monday that all three agencies needed to release documents related to the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act court application; FBI interviews with Mr. Ohr, a DOJ official, about the Russia investigation; and all reports about the FISA application for Mr. Page, a former Trump campaign aide.
The official declaration also demanded the release of all text messages about the Russia investigation sent by Mr. Ohr, former FBI Director James B. Comey, former acting FBI Director Andrew McCabe and former FBI employees Peter Strzok and Lisa Page.
One source told Bloomberg that Mr. Trump’s request for text messages was unprecedented.
President Trump defended his decision in an interview with Hill.tv released Wednesday.
“They know this is one of the great scandals in the history of our country because basically what they did is, they used Carter Page, who nobody even knew, who I feel very badly for, I think he’s been treated very badly,” he said in the interview. “They used Carter Page as a foil in order to surveil a candidate for the presidency of the United States.”
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