President Donald Trump ordered the declassification of key documents pertaining to the FBI Russia probe. They include the unredacted text messages of former FBI officials James Comey, Andrew McCabe, Peter Strzok, and Lisa Page, and the documents that led to the renewed surveillance of Carter Page, Trump’s former aide.
Announcing the move, White House Press Secretary Sarah Sanders said Trump’s decision to order the Justice Department and the Office of the Director of National Intelligence (ODNI) to release the documents came after members of Congress repeatedly requested them. She also mentioned “reasons of transparency” for the order.
While 21 of the 412 pages of warrants and FISA applications related to Page were publicly revealed by the FBI earlier in 2018, they were heavily redacted. Trump’s order would reveal the details the FBI chose to conceal from the public in addition to other material that could, perhaps, vindicate the president by showing that FBI officials were plotting to target the president.
It’s still not clear when or how these documents will be revealed.
After the announcement, Democrats quickly demonized the president for the move, accusing him of “a clear abuse of power” via a “selective release of materials he believes are helpful to his defense team and thinks will advance a false narrative,” according to Rep. Adam Schiff (D-CA). However, allies of the president in Congress have long sought the release of these documents, precisely because they believe the Justice Department and the FBI unfairly targeted Trump, falsely accusing him of colluding with Russian officials.
Before his declassification order, the president tweeted about one of Strzok’s messages to Page, quoting his comments to his then-lover, which read: “We need to Open the case we’ve been waiting on now while Andy [McCabe] is acting.”
Page reportedly answered, “We need to lock in (redacted). In a formal chargeable way. Soon,” implying they were the ones conspiring to create a case involving the president.
Immediately after Comey’s firing Peter Strzok texted to his lover, Lisa Page “We need to Open the case we’ve been waiting on now while Andy (McCabe, also fired) is acting. Page answered, “We need to lock in (redacted). In a formal chargeable way. Soon.” Wow, a conspiracy caught?
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) September 17, 2018
Whether Democrats like it or not, Trump seems highly motivated to let the public know what kind of “evidence” the FBI probe relies on, especially after his former campaign manager, Paul Manafort, was framed for crimes completely unrelated to Russia collusion.