President Donald Trump ordered the declassification of a number of documents related to the probe by the FBI into alleged Russian meddling in the 2016 presidential election. These documents include 21 pages of an application for a renewed surveillance warrant before the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance court against former Trump campaign aide Carter Page, and text messages from FBI officials Peter Strzok and Lisa Page.
White House Press Secretary Sarah Sanders released a statement today that the president had issued the order to release the documents "[a]t the request of a number of committees of Congress, and for reasons of transparency."
The documents to be declassified also include 12 FBI reports on interviews with Justice Department official Bruce Ohr and all FBI reports of interviews prepared in connection with all other applications to surveil Carter Page.
The White House statement read:
“At the request of a number of committees of Congress, and for reasons of transparency, the President has directed the Office of the Director of National Intelligence and the Department of Justice (including the FBI) to provide for the immediate declassification of the following materials: (1) pages 10-12 and 17-34 of the June 2017 application to the FISA court in the matter of Carter W. Page; (2) all FBI reports of interviews with Bruce G. Ohr prepared in connection with the Russia investigation; and (3) all FBI reports of interviews prepared in connection with all Carter Page FISA applications.
“In addition, President Donald J. Trump has directed the Department of Justice (including the FBI) to publicly release all text messages relating to the Russia investigation, without redaction, of James Comey, Andrew McCabe, Peter Strzok, Lisa Page, and Bruce Ohr.”
However, the White House did not indicate when or how the documents will be released. According to Fox News, House Intelligence Committee Chairman Devin Nunes (R-Calif.) does not know the date of release, but is confident that the order covers "pretty much everything that he wanted ... and the text messages are a bonus."
Congressional Republicans had publicly asked the president to declassify the June 2017 application for a FISA warrant against Page, in addition to the FBI reports of interviews with Ohr, that are known as "Form 302s." These are documents that are based on the recollections FBI officials have with deponents, and are not actual transcripts of recordings. Critics of the FBI have long feared that these are faulty records of interviews that may serve to incriminate deponents. .
Rep. Nunes said on Sunday that interview transcripts and other records from his committee’s now-concluded Russia investigation will be made public before November's elections.
"If the president wants the American people to really understand just how broad and invasive this investigation has been to many Americans and how unfair it has been, he has no choice but to declassify," Nunes said on "Sunday Morning Futures."
It was the FISA court that authorized the snooping of communications in the Trump campaign, largely on the basis of leaks posted by Strzok and an uncorroborated salacious report, the "dossier", concocted by a former British spy at the behest of Hillary Clintonh's campaign and the Democratic National Committee.
The text messages of lovers Peter Strzok and Lisa Page were ordered to be released without redaction. Both Strzok and Page were both part of the FBI's investigation into Clinton's use of a private email server as then-President Barack Obama's secretary of state, as well as the Russia probe. Strzok and Page were also involved in special counsel Robert Mueller's team. They were removed when they were found to have sent biased texts about Trump to one another. Strzok was fired by the FBI and Page resigned.
Trump has joined Republicans in consistently questioned the Russia investigation, specifically how much the dossier was used by federal law enforcement officials to justify before the FISA court the probe in 2016. Republicans assert that releasing the documents and texts show overall bias atop the Justice Department and FBI.