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Showing posts with label Gang of Eight. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Gang of Eight. Show all posts

Democrats Attempt to Block Trump’s Order to Declassify Russia-Probe Documents

L-R Rep. Adam Schiff (D-CA) (Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images) Rep. Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) (Mark Wilson/Getty Images) Sen. Mark Warner (D-VA) (Alex Wong/Getty Images) Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-NY) (Zach Gibson/Getty Images)

 Four top Democratic lawmakers are demanding that no Russia-probe documents be released in compliance with President Donald Trump’s order until the director of national intelligence and the heads of the FBI and the Justice Department meet with the “Gang of Eight.”

In a letter sent one day after Trump ordered the declassifications, Sens. Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) and Mark Warner (D-Va.), and Reps. Adam Schiff (D-Calif.) and Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) also called Sept. 18 on the three agencies to cease the declassification review process and halt all communications with the White House related to the president’s order until meeting in person with the Gang of Eight.

Related: Deep State Unmasked: Leaks at HHS; DOJ Official Resists "From Inside" and "Can't Get Fired"

Trump ordered Director of National Intelligence Daniel Coats on Sept. 17 to declassify specific pages of the secret court warrant application to surveil former Trump campaign volunteer Carter Page, FBI interviews related to the application, and text messages related to the Russia probe sent by James Comey, Andrew McCabe, Peter Strzok, Lisa Page, and Bruce Ohr.

Trump specified that the documents be declassified “immediately.” The Democrats’ move could at best delay the process, since Trump holds the ultimate authority to declassify documents.

The Democrats argue that the White House shouldn’t be given access to the documents because the Russia investigation is still ongoing and may “implicate the President himself or those around him.” According to the letter, the Democrats had sought to restrict the president’s access to information at least three times since June.

At the requested meeting, Pelosi, Schumer, Schiff, and Warner demand to know how much the White House will get to see as part of the review process, the White House staff who are involved, what information the agencies propose to redact, how they plan to protect sources and methods, and if there is a plan to “mitigate harm” that may result from the release of the documents.

Related: FBI, DOJ Plan Redactions Despite Trump’s Document Order

“The action he has taken, to direct your agencies to selectively disclose classified information that he believes he can manipulate publicly, to undermine the legitimacy and credibility of the Special Counsel’s investigation, is a brazen abuse of power,” the Democrats’ letter states.

Spokespeople from the Justice Department (DOJ) and the Office of the Director of National Intelligence (ODNI) told The Epoch Times that those agencies are cooperating with the FBI to comply with Trump’s order.

“When the President issues such an order, it triggers a declassification review process that is conducted by various agencies within the intelligence community, in conjunction with the White House counsel, to seek to ensure the safety of America’s national security interests,” according to a DOJ spokesperson, who declined to comment on the Democrats’ request for a meeting.

“As requested by the White House, the ODNI is working expeditiously with our interagency partners to conduct a declassification review of the documents the President has identified for declassification,” ODNI spokesperson Kellie Wade said.

The FBI declined to comment on the declassification process and the Democrats’ request. Spokespeople for two of the Gang of Eight’s Republican members, Rep. Devin Nunes of California and Sen. Richard Burr of North Carolina, declined to comment.

The documents Trump ordered to be released focus on the key players in the FBI’s counterintelligence investigation of the Trump campaign, which started in July 2016. The roots and methods of that investigation have faced intense criticism because of its reliance on an opposition research dossier funded by the Hillary Clinton campaign and the Democratic National Committee and the intense anti-Trump bias expressed by Lisa Page and Strzok, among others.

Trump told Hill TV in an exclusive interview on Sept. 18 that exposing the FBI’s scheme would be a “crowning achievement” of his presidency.

“I hope to be able to call this, along with tax cuts and regulation and all the things I’ve done … in its own way, this might be the most important thing because this was corrupt,” Trump said.

“They know this is one of the great scandals in the history of our country because basically what they did is, they used Carter Page, who nobody even knew, who I feel very badly for, I think he’s been treated very badly,” the president added. “They used Carter Page as a foil in order to surveil a candidate for the presidency of the United States.”

Related:  ‘I don’t have an attorney-general’: Trump slams Sessions in Oval Office interview

The White House didn’t respond to a request for comment. Spokespeople for Rep. Paul Ryan (R-Wisc.) and Sen. Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.), the other two Republicans on the Gang of Eight, also didn’t respond to a request for comment.

Trump said that he hadn’t read the material he ordered to be declassified, but that he believes they will expose that the probe of his campaign was a “hoax, beyond a witch hunt.”

The president was specifically concerned with the secret court judges who approved the warrant to spy on Carter Page. The Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court approved the initial application to surveil Page in October 2016. The court then approved three renewals in three-month increments.

“One of the things I’m disappointed in is that the judges in FISA didn’t, don’t seem to have done anything about it. I’m very disappointed in that,” Trump said. “Now, I may be wrong because, maybe as we sit here and talk, maybe they’re well into it. We just don’t know that because I purposely have not chosen to get involved.”

Trump noted that many people had asked him to declassify the documents, but said he waited to see “where it was all going.”

“All I want to do is be transparent,” he said. “I hope to be able put this up as one of my crowning achievements that I was able to … expose something that is truly a cancer in our country.”

Source: https://m.theepochtimes.com/democrats-attempt-to-block-trumps-order-to-declassify-russia-probe-documents_2665493.html

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FBI, DOJ Plan Redactions Despite Trump’s Document Order

FBI, DOJ Plan Redactions Despite Trump’s Document Order

(Bloomberg) -- President Donald Trump has demanded the “immediate declassification” of sensitive materials about the Russia investigation, but the agencies responsible are expected to propose redactions that would keep some information secret, according to three people familiar with the matter.

The Justice Department, FBI and Office of the Director of National Intelligence are going through a methodical review and can’t offer a timeline for finishing, said the people, who weren’t authorized to speak publicly about the sensitive matter.
The White House issued a statement on Monday listing material that Trump wants declassified immediately, echoing demands of Republican lawmakers who share his contention that the continuing investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 election was tainted by anti-Trump bias well before Robert Mueller was named special counsel to run it.
Among Trump’s demands was the full public release of all text messages concerning the Russia probe by Justice Department official Bruce Ohr and by several former officials, including two who were fired -- former FBI Director James Comey and his deputy, Andrew McCabe. One person described the order to release text messages as unprecedented, and another said additional talks will probably be held with the White House over the matter.
The Justice Department and FBI are expected to submit their documents and proposed redactions to the Office of the Director of National Intelligence, which will assemble all the material into a package and hand it over to the White House, according to the people.
While the agencies want to guard against revealing classified sources and methods about the ongoing Russia investigation, doing so could put them in direct conflict with Trump, who as president has the power to override the agencies and declassify material on his own.
It’s too early to say if any officials would resign in protest should Trump do that, one person said. Trump could ask the agencies to go back and scrub the redacted material further.
Critics, including leading congressional Democrats, contend that Trump has crossed a line by ordering release of the documents in order to interfere with and undermine the Russia investigation in which he’s a key figure.
“President Trump, in a clear abuse of power, has decided to intervene in a pending law enforcement investigation by ordering the selective release of materials he believes are helpful to his defense team and thinks will advance a false narrative,” Representative Adam Schiff, the top Democrat on the House Intelligence Committee, said in a statement on Monday.

Triggering Review

Trump took the rare step of ordering material released after a group of conservative House Republicans asked him to do so.
“When the president issues such an order, it triggers a declassification review process that is conducted by various agencies within the intelligence community, in conjunction with the White House counsel, to seek to ensure the safety of America’s national security interests,” a Justice Department spokesman said in a statement. “The department and the Federal Bureau of Investigation are already working with the Director of National Intelligence to comply with the president’s order.”
Some of what Trump requested was well known to the Justice Department and FBI and was already under review for potential declassification.
They have already been reviewing whether and how to release more of a previously secret warrant application to eavesdrop on Carter Page, a foreign policy adviser to Trump’s presidential campaign who was flagged by intelligence agencies as a target of Russian interest. Page hasn’t been accused of wrongdoing and has said that while he had conversations with Russian officials, he wasn’t an agent of the Russian government.
The agencies also have been reviewing whether and how to release reports of interviews with Ohr on his role in the Russia inquiry.
But another part of the White House statement caused confusion because it asked for “all FBI reports of interviews prepared in connection with all Carter Page FISA applications.

Confidential Informant

The Justice Department is interpreting that request to mean information about the use of a confidential informant during the early parts of the investigation, one person said. The department had previously briefed the “Gang of Eight,” Republican and Democratic congressional leaders and heads of the Intelligence committees, on the informant.
Trump and his supporters have repeatedly attacked the FBI and Justice Department for relying partly on a dossier on Trump compiled by former British spy Christopher Steele in order to get the warrant on Page. They contend that Justice and FBI officials didn’t fully disclose that Steele was paid in part by Trump’s rival in the presidential campaign, Hillary Clinton.
Democrats have said information other than the Steele dossier was used to obtain the warrant on Page.
The initial warrant request called Page “an agent of a foreign power” and said “the FBI believes Page has been the subject of targeted recruitment by the Russian government,” according to the document.

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