WASHINGTON ― President Donald Trump has intervened in an ongoing investigation of his 2016 presidential campaign, ordering the declassification of portions of a secret application for surveillance of a member of his campaign as well as the release of text messages exchanged by FBI employees involved in the investigating of Russian interference in the 2016 election.
The president tweeted Tuesday, quoting a supportive congressman and adding: "Really bad things were happening, but they are now being exposed". It's also unclear if the multi-agency review now underway might find ways to withhold certain information or limit whatever damage, such as outing sources or scaring off would-be ones, that may arise from the release. That review is ongoing.
However, details to date have largely confirmed that investigatory agencies conformed to previous standards before the FISA court, including identifying any bias in sources of information on which a surveillance application relies. His communications were monitored for almost a year starting in October 2016. The meeting has drawn scrutiny because it was described to Trump Jr.in emails as part of a Russian government effort to help the campaign.
The other 18 pages appear to relate to information the government submitted that came from former British spy Christopher Steele before the presidential election.
Trump has consistently said some in the FBI and Justice Department are biased and tainting the independent investigation into whether his campaign collaborated with Russian Federation to swing the 2016 election in his favor.
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The president ordered the Department of Justice and director of National Intelligence to declassify documents related to a search warrant on Trump campaign foreign policy adviser Carter Page, as well as interviews conducted by DOJ official Bruce Ohr.
Trump also ordered the DOJ to release fully unredacted text messages "related to the Russian Federation investigation" from former officials he's continually lambasted given their connections to the investigation, including FBI Director James Comey, former FBI Deputy Director Andrew McCabe, former FBI agent Peter Strzok, former FBI lawyer Lisa Page and Bruce Ohr, a current Justice Department official.
Trump's decision alarmed national security experts, who cautioned that the declassification of some of the materials could endanger the lives of confidential sources. And later that same month, a countermemo by Democrats on the same committee was declassified and released in redacted form.
The disclosures were unprecedented given that surveillance warrants obtained from the secret court are highly classified and are not meant to be publicly disclosed, including to defendants preparing for or awaiting trial.
Other Republican lawmakers also lauded Trump's decision for transparency.
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Rep. Mark Meadows, R-N.C., the chairman of the conservative House Freedom Caucus, insisted he's seen plenty of evidence to warrant releasing the documents.
Representative Meadows, who had pushed for the documents' release, said it will allow the American people to decide "what happened at the highest levels of their Federal Bureau of Investigation and Justice Department".
"Americans deserve the truth about these egregious actions by government officials", Representative Scalise said. "It's being made on conflicted grounds", said David Kris, a former Justice Department national security division head. House Democratic leader Nancy Pelosi of California, Senate Democratic leader Chuck Schumer of New York, House Intelligence Committee ranking member Adam Schiff of California and Warner all signed the letter.
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"Paul Manafort was with me for a short period of time", Trump said.
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