Democrats should be careful what they wish for: Trump ordered Russia probe declassification last year

by WorldTribune Staff, April 5, 2019

Democrats are moving to issue subpoenas to obtain the full Mueller report – without redactions.

House Intelligence Committee chair Adam Schiff is one of those Democrats demanding the release of an unredacted Mueller report.

Democrats objected when President Donald Trump in September 2018 said he would declassify some Russia probe documents.

The “collusion illusion” may be clouding Dems’ brains, a columnist suggested.

“Democrats calling for transparency should be careful what they wish for,” James S. Robbins, a George W. Bush administration official, wrote for USA Today on April 1.

“We are looking at what might be an unprecedented level of government interference in the 2016 election that makes Watergate look like a third-rate burglary.”

In September 2018, President Donald Trump instructed the Office of the Director of National Intelligence and the Department of Justice to declassify materials related to the Russia investigation, including “all text messages … without redaction” of James Comey, Andrew McCabe, Peter Strzok, Lisa Page and Bruce Ohr, as well as documents concerning the warrant application under the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act for Trump adviser Carter Page.

[Trump would later hold off on declassifying the documents, saying he could save them for a later date that would have a more devastating affect on Democrats.]

At the time, “Democrats objected that declassifying text messages regarding the Russia investigation will compromise FBI ‘sources and methods,’ and the move was delayed after ‘key allies’ objected,” Robbins noted.

Schiff himself was against Trump declassifying the Russia probe documents.

“With respect to some of these materials, I have been previously informed by the FBI and Justice Department that they would consider their release a red line that must not be crossed as they may compromise sources and methods,” Schiff said in September 2018.

Republican Rep. Matt Gaetz praised the directive. “These documents will reveal to the American people some of the systemic corruption and bias that took place at the highest levels of the DOJ and FBI, including using the tools of our intelligence community for partisan political ends.”

Robbins noted that “Many revelations from this investigation to date have given dramatic weight to the idea that the FBI and intelligence community were engaged in an effort to derail the 2016 Trump presidential campaign and later to use an ‘insurance policy’ to subvert the Trump presidency. It is pointless to continue to argue about this in the dark. If there is evidence that supports the Democrats’ charges in these redacted documents, why not let the public know? Hiding behind ‘sources and methods’ won’t cut it.”

Sources and methods “are the central question when it comes to investigating the investigators,” Robbins wrote. “So far as methods are concerned, what we know about them already are hardly worth being classified. They involve a basic counterintelligence technique, getting people to talk. In the Carter Page case, the target was a marginal character on the periphery of the 2016 Trump presidential campaign. This is not exactly on the level of the previously classified methods revealed by Edward Snowden.”

Robbins continued: “But if there were some highly technical, super secret surveillance methods being used against others, including Trump himself, it is imperative that they be revealed. The notion that the U.S. government was ordered to use such advanced tools against a major party presidential campaign or a president himself is to say the least troubling, and potentially a criminal abuse of power.

“Sources, likewise, should not remain concealed. Their identity is the central question of the investigation. Republicans maintain that the Carter Page FISA warrant was almost entirely based on the discredited Fusion GPS ‘Russia dossier,’ which was bankrolled by the Clinton-run Democratic National Committee and the Clinton campaign.”

Trump “has the authority to declassify much of this hidden information,” Robbins wrote. “In the spring of 2017, when the president charged that former national security adviser Susan Rice’s ‘unmasking’ of U.S. persons in intelligence products was potentially criminal, Schiff said, ‘If he’s going to make accusations of criminality against anyone, he needs to show evidence to support that kind of a charge.’ Rep. Eric Swalwell added that “if the president wants to say that Susan Rice committed a crime, he has the power to declassify. No one else does.”

Robbins noted: “Couldn’t agree more.”

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