- President Donald Trump admitted Tuesday he has not read classified documents related to the Russia investigation that he recently ordered to be released to the public.
- “I have had many people ask me to release them,” Trump told Hill.TV. “Not that I didn’t like the idea, but I wanted to wait, I wanted to see where it was all going.”
- Trump’s decision alarmed national security experts, who cautioned that the declassification of some of the materials could endanger the lives of confidential sources.
- Mark Warner, the ranking member on the Senate Intelligence Committee, has read the documents Trump wants released, and issued a stark warning following the White House’s announcement.
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President Donald Trump told Hill.TV during a Tuesday interview that he is convinced the sensitive Russia documents that he ordered to be declassified will prove that the Russia investigation is a “hoax.”
There’s one caveat, according to The Hill: the president has not read the materials he wants released to the public.
“I have had many people ask me to release them,” Trump said. “Not that I didn’t like the idea but I wanted to wait, I wanted to see where it was all going.”
He said his goal was to let the public ultimately decide, adding, “All I want to do is be transparent.”
On Monday evening, 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 Department of Justice official Bruce Ohr.
The move marks the latest escalation in Trump’s broadsides against the FBI and DOJ after Comey confirmed last year that the FBI was investigating whether the Trump campaign colluded with Moscow to tilt the 2016 race in his favour.
Trump’s decision alarmed national security experts, who cautioned that the declassification of some of the material Trump wants released could endanger the lives of confidential sources and harm the US’s relationship with its foreign allies.
Congressional Democrats also decried Trump’s move, accusing him of interfering in an active investigation into him and his associates, and of using the country’s law-enforcement agencies for his own political motives.
Republicans, meanwhile, applauded the president for what they described as an effort to promote full transparency.
Adam Schiff, the ranking member on the House Intelligence Committee, revealed Monday that FBI director Chris Wray and deputy attorney general Rod Rosenstein had told him that the release of such sensitive documents related to the Russia probe and the FBI’s sources and methods would breach a “red line.”
Mark Warner, the ranking member on the Senate Intelligence Committee, has read the underlying documents that Trump wants released, and he issued a stark warning following the White House’s announcement: “Be careful what you wish for.”
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