As Trump orders the release of classified Russia docs, a top House Democrat says the FBI and DOJ told him the move would be a 'red line'

Alex Edelman/Getty ImagesDonald Trump.
  • Adam Schiff, the ranking member on the House Intelligence Committee, called President Donald Trump’s order for the declassification and release of sensitive Russia materials a “clear abuse of power” meant to influence the Russia probe.
  • Schiff also revealed that the FBI and DOJ had previously told him that the release of some of the materials would be a “red line” that must not be crossed because it may compromise sources and methods.
  • Trump on Monday ordered “the immediate declassification” of parts of the FBI’s application to surveil Carter Page, as well as FBI reports of interviews connected to Page and DOJ official Bruce Ohr.
  • He also called for the release, without redaction, of all text messages from Ohr, former FBI director James Comey, former FBI deputy director Andrew McCabe, former FBI agent Peter Strzok, and FBI lawyer Lisa Page.

Adam Schiff, the ranking member on the House Intelligence Committee, slammed President Donald Trump’s decision Monday to order the release of a slew of sensitive documents related to the Russia investigation.

Schiff’s statement came after the White House announced that Trump had directed the Office of the Director of National Intelligence and the Department of Justice (DOJ) “to provide for the immediate declassification” of parts of the FBI’s June 2017 application to surveil former Trump campaign aide Carter Page, as well as FBI reports of interviews connected to Page and DOJ official Bruce Ohr.

The president also asked the FBI and the DOJ to release, without redaction, all text messages pertaining to the Russia investigation from former FBI director James Comey, former deputy FBI director Andrew McCabe, former FBI agent Peter Strzok, FBI lawyer Lisa Page, and Ohr.

Schiff called the president’s move a “clear abuse of power” meant 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.”

Schiff also revealed that the FBI and DOJ had previously told him that they would consider the release of some of the materials Trump wants declassified a “red line that must not be crossed as they may compromise sources and methods.”

The White House said Trump made the decision for transparency purposes and after it was requested by multiple congressional committees.

Trump’s move came after Paul Manafort, the former chairman of Trump’s campaign, agreed to cooperate with the special counsel Robert Mueller, securing him his most significant victory yet in the Russia investigation.

Trump and his allies, including Schiff’s counterpart, Rep. Devin Nunes, frequently rail against the Russia probe and characterise it as a politically motivated fishing expedition meant to undermine Trump’s presidency. He has also personally attacked every individual whose text messages he wants released to the public.

The most recent target of his ire is Ohr, who communicated with the former British spy Christopher Steele in 2016, while Steele was putting together a dossier with allegations of collusion between the Trump campaign and Russia.

Ohr’s wife, Nellie, worked for Fusion GPS, the opposition research firm that commissioned Steele’s work. Glenn Simpson, the founder of Fusion GPS, also testified last year that he met with Ohr after the 2016 election to discuss how the dossier was compiled.

Deputy attorney general Rod Rosenstein previously testified that Ohr did not work on the Russia investigation and was not involved in the FBI’s surveillance of Page.

Politico reported that the DOJ and FBI have no idea how the redaction process is being handled, with a source familiar with the process saying both entities feel it’s possible that the White House could release the information on its own as early as Monday.

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