Trump Says DOJ Warned Him of Pitfalls in Releasing Russia Papers
(Bloomberg) -- President Donald Trump said the Justice Department has warned him that releasing internal documents on the Russia investigation, as he’s demanded, could have a “perceived negative impact” on Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s probe.
“I met with the DOJ concerning the declassification of various UNREDACTED documents,” the president tweeted Friday. “They agreed to release them but stated that so doing may have a perceived negative impact on the Russia probe. Also, key Allies’ called to ask not to release.” He didn’t identify the allies.
While the president offered a summary of the arguments against his move in two tweets on Friday, he also said the department’s inspector general is reviewing the materials he wants declassified, a process that will delay the immediate release Trump demanded.
“I believe he will move quickly on this,” Trump said Friday on Twitter. “In the end I can always declassify if it proves necessary. Speed is very important to me - and everyone!”
The inspector general’s office had no comment.
Trump this week demanded the “immediate declassification” of sensitive materials including parts of a previously secret warrant application to eavesdrop on Carter Page, a foreign policy adviser to his presidential campaign who was flagged by intelligence agencies as a target of Russian interest. Page has denied wrongdoing.
The president also directed the release of other materials from the continuing investigation of Russian election interference in which he’s a central figure. Trump and some Republican lawmakers say the material will prove that anti-Trump bias fatally tainted the early stages of the Russia probe that’s now being run by Mueller.
Following Trump’s order to release the documents, the FBI and Justice Department had been planning to propose redactions that would keep some of the information secret to protect sources and methods.
“Career national security and intelligence officials already decided that making these documents fully public could have public safety or national security implications," said Elliot Williams, a former deputy assistant attorney general who’s now a principal at the Raben Group. “The president is using official process to settle political scores. This is a request that should never have been made in the first place.”
Leading congressional Democrats contend that Trump has crossed a line by ordering release of the documents in order to interfere with and undermine the Russia investigation.
“This is why the President should be relying on the advice of intelligence and law enforcement professionals, not cable news hosts,” Mark Warner, the top Democrat on the Senate Intelligence Committee, said in a tweet citing Trump’s acknowledgment of the Justice Department’s concerns.
In an interview this week with Hill.TV, Trump said he’s been asked about anti-Trump bias infecting the“totally discredited” Russia inquiry by Fox News commentators he respects, including “the great Lou Dobbs, the great Sean Hannity, the wonderful, great Jeanine Pirro.”
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