President Donald Trump has ordered the declassification of some secrets and the release of other material related to the ongoing FBI probe of Russian influence on the 2016 presidential election.
The documents include parts of the secret application to the court overseeing the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act that led to the monitoring of former Trump campaign foreign policy adviser Carter Page, and which ultimately resulted in the investigation led by special counsel Robert Mueller. The FBI released a heavily redacted version of the application earlier this year, as intelligence experts maintain that sources and methods could be compromised if too much information is revealed.
Trump gave his orders at the behest of some of the most conservative members of the U.S. House, who maintain that the FBI’s investigation was tainted at the start due to anti-Trump bias. Rep. Mark Meadows told Bloomberg News, “As Congress has investigated, we’ve continued to see more and more troubling evidence suggesting multiple senior-level FBI and DOJ officials acted in a deeply unethical fashion during the 2016 campaign and throughout the early stages of the Trump administration.”
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.
One of the House members demanding release, Jim Jordan, told CNN he didn’t know whether the details would bolster or knock down their position. About 30 members of Congress of both parties have had access to FISA applications related to the investigation.
Several agencies will work to remove sensitive details from the material before it’s released publicly.
Other materials Trump ordered released include FBI reports on interviews that involved Page and Justice Department official Bruce Ohr. Ohr worked on elements of the Russia inquiry before Mueller’s investigation, and Trump has called him out for criticism by name in tweets and threatened to pull his security clearance, which would likely end his tenure at the DOJ.
Text messages sent by Ohr and several officials will also be published, including those from former FBI Director James Comey; his deputy, Andrew McCabe; and former FBI agent Peter Strzok and former FBI lawyer Lisa Page, who had an affair while working at the agency, and whose texts Republicans have alleged point to a conspiracy against Trump in 2016.