Trump Gives DOJ Slack but Demands Timely Release of FISA Warrant
The president explains he met with the department 'concerning the declassification of various unredacted documents'
President Donald Trump announced on Friday that he is giving the Department of Justice (DOJ) some slack in releasing documents related to FISA applications against his campaign.
“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.”
The release reportedly will include 21 pages of an application to a surveillance warrant against former campaign aide Carter Page.
“Also, key Allies called to ask not to release,” Trump said. “Therefore, the Inspector General has been asked to review these documents on an expedited basis.”
Trump added that he believes the DOJ inspector general will move quickly on this and other issues.
But he also warned that he can always declassify material if it proves necessary — and that speed is very important.
The president has also ordered the Department of Justice to release text messages from several major players in the Russia investigation without redaction — including Ohr, former FBI counterintelligence agent Peter Strzok, former FBI attorney Lisa Page, former FBI Director James Comey, and former FBI Deputy Director Andrew McCabe.
The materials also will include 12 declassified FBI reports on interviews with Justice Department official Bruce Ohr.
Ohr formerly worked as the associate deputy attorney general before being demoted in the wake of an ongoing scandal.
He provided the FBI with an opposition research dossier that helped lead to a Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) warrant to spy on Page — and thus the president’s campaign indirectly.
Nellie Ohr, Bruce Ohr’s wife, worked for Fusion GPS, the opposition research firm hired to create the dossier.
The opposition research dossier was paid for indirectly by Democrat Hillary Clinton’s 2016 campaign and the Democratic National Committee (DNC).
Christopher Steele, a former British spy with deep connections to Russian intelligence, was tasked with compiling it.
Special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation into the president was later launched in part because of the dossier. The investigation is looking into whether the president or his associates colluded with Russian interests to sway the presidential election of 2016.
The House Judiciary and House Oversight and Government Reform Committees have focused on the dossier as part of their own investigation into the DOJ and FBI. They are looking into questionable decisions the agencies made around the time of the election, including what led to the special counsel probe.
Ohr was demoted from his post as the associate deputy attorney general once his alleged involvement came to light. He later appeared before a closed-door congressional hearing as part of the congressional investigation on August 28.
Rep. John Ratcliffe (R-Texas) said his testimony confirmed many of his fears of bias and FISA process abuse.
Fusion GPS co-founder Glenn Simpson and former FBI lawyer Lisa Page gave testimonies that were cited as contradicting what Ohr said. Page was involved in the probe until she was exposed for having exchanged thousands of text messages — which showed a clear hatred for the president — with Peter Strzok.
The latter was at the center of two main investigations by congressional investigators.
Strzok was previously involved with an investigation into Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton’s use of a private email server while she was secretary of state. Strzok then jumped onto the special counsel probe but was eventually removed on July 2017.
Ohr isn’t the only one to have been removed from his position amid ongoing controversies. Strzok was eventually fired on August 13, nearly a year after he was removed from the probe.
Former FBI Director James Comey and former FBI Deputy Director Andrew McCabe were also fired alongside others who have been demoted or reassigned, or have since left the agency.