Trump orders declassification, release of Comey texts

Trump holds an Oval Office meeting on preparations for hurricane Florence at the White House in Washington

Trump holds an Oval Office meeting on preparations for hurricane Florence at the White House in Washington

U.S. President Donald Trump is raising the possibility he could order the declassification of more documents related to the investigation into Russia's election meddling. Page has since left the bureau and Strzok was sacked earlier this year by the FBI for his actions during the investigation; including moments where they discussed communications with the media and published stories, they considered using as a "pretext" to conduct more interviews of Trump campaign personnel. He distanced himself from the Trump campaign in September 2016 while under scrutiny.

President Trump's order to declassify a slew of documents Monday regarding the FBI's warrant to spy on an American citizen and the bureau's handling of the investigation into alleged collusion between Trump and Russian Federation is being hailed by Republican lawmakers as a major step in "transparency".

The Justice Department says it's begun complying with the order, though it's not clear when the documents might be released. That review is ongoing.

REUTERS/Yuri GripasPresident Donald Trump wants to release the FBI's application to surveil one of his campaign aides. His communications were monitored for almost a year starting in October 2016.

The Christopher Steele "dossier", which contains salacious claims about President Trump and his ties to Russia, was reportedly stuck in a Federal Bureau of Investigation field office in NY for several weeks in July 2016, during the same time period that officials in Washington, D.C. had already begun looking into Trump campaign associates' ties to Russia, ABC News reported.

The House committees investigating special counsel Robert Mueller's Russian Federation probe are planning this week to interview senior Justice Department official Bruce Ohr's wife, Nellie Ohr, who worked as a contractor for Fusion GPS, the research firm that hired Steele to investigate Trump's personal and business ties to Russian Federation.

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. But Mueller was appointed by the Department of Justice and judges have ruled that his investigation is being conducted legally. Democrats later countered with their own memo.

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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.

Another Republican, North Carolina Representative Mark Meadows tweeted, "Transparency wins". The documentation was characterized by the official as large, and the official also said that there is no time frame for the release.

Though there are other instances of government officials or contractors spilling government secrets, Chesney said, "What's remarkable about this is it's the White House that's doing it".

House Intelligence Committee ranking member Adam Schiff said in a statement: "President Trump, in a clear abuse of power, has chose to intervene in a pending law enforcement investigation by ordering the selective release of materials he believes are helpful to his defence team and thinks will advance a false narrative".

Meanwhile, Trump had accused him of bias against Republicans because McCabe's wife had accepted campaign contributions from the political action committee of then-Virginia Gov. Terry McAuliffe, a Democrat, during a failed state Senate run.

Get the Monitor stories you care about delivered to your inbox. Gaetz, who sits on the House Judiciary Committee, added that he looks "forward to the forthcoming release of these documents, and reviewing them closely".

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