President Trump said he released classified documents related to the FBI investigation into alleged Russian meddling in the 2016 election to show Americans that it began as a “hoax.” This revelation, he predicted, will be one of the “crowning achievements” of his presidency.
“What we’ve done is a great service to the country, really,” Trump said in the Tuesday interview with Hill.TV on Tuesday. “I hope to be able to call this, along with tax cuts and regulation and all the things I’ve done ... in its own way this might be the most important thing because this was corrupt,” he said.
Trump confirmed an account given by Rudy Giuliani, his attorney, earlier on Fox News, saying that he regretted not firing former FBI Director James Comey immediately instead of waiting until May 2017. “If I did one mistake with Comey, I should have fired him before I got here. I should have fired him the day I won the primaries,” Trump said. “I should have fired him right after the convention, say I don’t want that guy. Or at least fired him the first day on the job. ... I would have been better off firing him or putting out a statement that I don’t want him there when I get there.” Trump has cited Comey’s handling of the Clinton email case as one reason among others for firing the former FBI director.
The president criticized the approval of surveillance warrant by the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) court, which authorized surveillance of Carter Page, a low-level Trump campaign volunteer near the end of 2016 presidential race. Suggesting that the FBI misled the FISA court, Trump said, “They know this is one of the great scandals in the history of our country because basically what they did is, they used Carter Page, who nobody even knew, who I feel very badly for, I think he’s been treated very badly. They used Carter Page as a foil in order to surveil a candidate for the presidency of the United States.”
Citing reports by The Hill and other media about the failures of the FBI probe, Trump said that he believes the FISA judges were misled. “I mean I don’t think we have to go much further than to say that they’ve been misled.”
“One of the things I’m disappointed in is that the judges in FISA didn’t, don’t seem to have done anything about it. I’m very disappointed in that Now, I may be wrong because, maybe as we sit here and talk, maybe they’re well into it. We just don’t know that because I purposely have not chosen to get involved,” Trump said.
Besides his criticisms of Comey, Trump also scored former FBI officials Peter Strzok, Lisa Page, and Andrew McCabe. He cited text message exchanges between Page and Strzok, which disparaged Trump and his supporters during the campaign. Both Page and Strzok worked briefly for special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation before being dismissed. Trump ordered the release of those texts on Monday. “It’s a hoax, beyond a witch hunt,” he said. He referred to a text between Page and Strzok where they appear conspire to get McCabe to approve a widening of the Russia probe on the day that Comey was fired to describe that he had been wronged by the FBI. Trump said, “Comey was a bad guy. He gets fired. They only have Andy left because they know they’re doing wrong.” The president criticized the FBI for creating what he said was a false narrative about him and produce what appeared to be what Page and Strzok wrote was an “insurance policy” to destroy his presidency. “Number one, how illegal is it? And number two, how low is it?” he said.
Trump said that he has not read the documents that will be released, but he expects that they will prove his point that the FBI case started as a “hoax.”