Donald Trump Orders Declassification Of Surveillance Application Targeting Carter Page, Release Of James Comey Text Messages
Trump also demanded the immediate release of former FBI Director James Comey‘s text messages. This marks the president’s most recent attempt to fight back against a more than year-long investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 election. In July, the FBI said in a FISA warrant that Page “collaborated and conspired” with Russia.
This also comes amid a series of hearings to determine whether or not Brett Kavanaugh will be confirmed as Supreme Court justice. Trump defended Kavanaugh on Monday despite a sexual assault allegation against him. Republican lawmakers have suggested that the surveillance application targeting Page — who reportedly traveled to Moscow twice in 2016 — would help bolster claims that the FBI is biased against Trump.
The president also reportedly ordered the release of senior Justice Department official Bruce Ohr‘s notes about the Russia inquiry. Ohr is relevant to the investigation because he helped federal investigators obtain information from Christopher Steele, a former British intelligence officer who looked into the Trump campaign’s connections to Russia in 2016 and delivered damaging claims in a now-famous dossier. Trump and many of his close associates have dismissed Steele’s reports as false.
Special Counsel Robert Mueller and his team have produced multiple indictments and guilty pleas over the course of the Russia probe, the most recent being Trump’s former campaign chairman Paul Manafort. Trump has repeatedly called the investigation a “rigged witch hunt” on Twitter, and seized on information like disparaging texts about him that former FBI agent Peter Strzok sent during the election to condemn the bureau and many of the country’s other top agencies.
Many GOP officials have noted that Steele worked for a company that Democrats had supported for delivering opposition research on Trump. Republicans have seized on this to assert the FBI is biased against Trump because they used a partisan document to push claims that his campaign colluded with Russia during the 2016 election.
Several Republicans, among them former Trump campaign adviser Michael Caputo and Louisiana Rep. Steve Scalise — the House Majority Whip — praised Trump for his latest action.
— Rep. Steve Scalise (@SteveScalise) September 17, 2018