British intelligence chiefs are reportedly desperate to convince the White House not to declassify more of the FBI wiretap application on former Trump campaign advisor Carter Page, because it would expose intelligence-gathering sources and methods.
According to a piece published late Wednesday in the U.K.’s Daily Telegraph, U.S. intelligence officials are also against the idea, as are those in Australia, another member of the intelligence-gathering club known as the Five Eyes (the group also includes Canada and New Zealand.)
Carter Page became a foreign policy advisor on Trump’s campaign team early in 2016. The FBI obtained a warrant to monitor his communications several months later, after they became aware that he may have been meeting with Russian officials in Moscow in mid-2016.
Over time, the investigation fed into the sprawling Russia probe that is currently being conducted by Special Counsel Robert Mueller. However, it did not spark the Russia probe, as some Republicans have alleged — the wider investigation was instead prompted by contact between the Russians and Trump campaign aide George Papadopoulos, regarding so-called “dirt” on Trump’s presidential rival, Hillary Clinton.
The Trump administration and its Republican allies have for some time been trying to paint the FBI’s surveillance of Page as evidence of a “deep state” plot against Trump’s ascent to the presidency that is now being continued via the Mueller probe.
The FBI has released a heavily redacted version of its original warrant application, in order to protect sources and intelligence-gathering methods, but since September President Trump has been pushing for a further, if not total, declassification.
According to the Telegraph, the British spy agency MI6 (James Bond’s agency, more properly known as the Secret Intelligence Service,) is warning that any further declassification would undermine intelligence gathering, but Trump’s allies are claiming that the British are trying to hide something.
As the publication notes, the squabble is ill-timed from the British perspective, as the U.K. is about to leave the EU and is counting on deepening ties with the U.S.