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Trump walks back his decision to declassify sensitive Russia documents

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Donald Trump
President Donald Trump.
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  • President Trump said Friday that he was reconsidering
    his order to declassify and release sensitive documents related
    to the ongoing Russia investigation and the FBI’s surveillance
    of a Trump campaign aide.
  • Trump said the Justice Department told him the release
    of the documents could have a “perceived” negative impact on
    the Russia probe, and that key US allies contacted him and
    asked that the documents not be released.
  • In light of that, the president said he asked the
    inspector general to review the documents on an expedited
    basis, and that he could always declassify them “if it proves
    necessary.”

President Donald Trump on Friday walked back his decision to
release sensitive documents related to the ongoing Russia
investigation and the FBI’s surveillance of a Trump campaign aide
during and after the 2016 election.

“I met with the DOJ concerning the declassification of various
UNREDACTED documents,” Trump tweeted. “They agreed to
release them but stated that so doing may have a perceived
negative impact on the Russia probe. Also, key Allies’ called to
ask not to release. Therefore, the Inspector General … has been
asked to review these documents on an expedited basis.”

He added: “I believe he will move
quickly on this (and hopefully other things which he is looking
at). In the end I can always declassify if it proves necessary.
Speed is very important to me – and everyone!”

Earlier this week, the White House announced that Trump had
directed the Office of the Director of National Intelligence and
the Department of Justice “to provide for the immediate
declassification” of parts of the FBI’s June 2017 application to
monitor former Trump campaign aide Carter Page, as well as FBI
reports of interviews connected to Page and DOJ official Bruce
Ohr.

The president also asked the FBI and the DOJ to release, without
redaction, all text messages pertaining to the Russia
investigation from former FBI director James Comey, former deputy
FBI director Andrew McCabe, former FBI agent Peter Strzok, FBI
lawyer Lisa Page, and Ohr.

Trump’s decision alarmed national security
experts
, who cautioned that the declassification of some of
the material could endanger the lives of confidential sources and
harm the US’s relationship with its foreign allies.

Congressional Democrats also decried Trump’s move, accusing him
of interfering in an active investigation into him and his
associates, and of using the country’s law-enforcement agencies
for his own political motives.

Republicans, meanwhile, applauded the president for what they
described as an effort to promote full transparency.

Adam Schiff, the ranking member on the House Intelligence
Committee, revealed Monday that FBI
director Chris Wray and deputy attorney general Rod Rosenstein
had told him that the release of such sensitive documents related
to the Russia probe and the FBI’s sources and methods would
breach a “red line.”

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