Lawmakers react to Trump's order to declassify documents related to Russian Federation probe

Clay Curtis
September 18, 2018

It's not yet clear when and how the declassified documents and texts will be released.

The move was confirmed in a statement from White House press secretary Sarah Sanders.

Trump also ordered the public release of texts messages sent by former FBI Director James Comey, former Deputy Director Andrew McCabe, as well as Justice Department official Bruce Ohr. Trump has made wild accusations against both men, claiming they were part of a politically motivated plot against him.

The panel on "The Five" reacted Monday to President Donald Trump ordering the declassification of key documents relating to the federal probe into the 2016 election, including an application for surveillance of a Trump campaign aide.

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.

However, Juan Williams cautioned that Trump's decision to declassify the documents could be proof of a "flailing president" who is concerned about the current political scene.

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But leading Democrats on the Senate and House Intelligence Committees panned Trump's decision to declassify "selective" pieces of information that, without broader context, could undermine public faith in the ongoing special counsel investigation into the 2016 Trump campaign's possible ties to Russian Federation and whether the president has obstructed that investigation.

The top Democrat on the House Intelligence Committee called President Trump's move to declassify Justice Department materials related to the Russian Federation investigation "a clear abuse of power" that risks exposing USA intelligence-gathering strategies.

Several of Trump's allies on Capitol Hill, including Republican Rep. Matt Gaetz of Florida, who requested that the documents be provided, applauded the president's move. Democrats weeks later released their own memo.

The president's conservative allies had this month appealed directly to the president to release the materials, and they praised Trump's directive as a win for transparency.

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". Schiff called the release an "abuse of power", arguing that it compromises the FBI's sources and methods.

Democrats and former national security officials have said Trump's directive is a unsafe one - threatening to undermine an investigation of his own campaign and potentially revealing confidential law enforcement sources.

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