President Trump’s decision to release classified documents - portions of FISA warrants and texts messages between FBI agents probing Russian interference in the U.S. presidential election - has sent the intelligence community scrambling.
On Monday Trump ordered the declassification of 20 pages of the FISA warrant application against former Trump campaign foreign policy aide Carter Paige, whose association with Russian operatives put him on the intelligence community’s radar in 2013 after authorities broken up a Russian espionage ring in New York.
Trump supporters have long claimed the Russian investigation, which started under former FBI Director James Comey and is now under the authority of Special Counsel Robert Mueller.
“When the President issues such an order, it triggers a declassification review process that is conducted by various agencies within the intelligence community, in conjunction with the White House Counsel, to seek to ensure the safety of America's national security interests,” the Justice Department said in a statement. “The department and the Federal Bureau of Investigation are already working with the Director of National Intelligence to comply with the President's order."
The president also ordered the release of texts between Comey, former agent Peter Strzok and former Deputy Director Andrew McCabe, who have both since been fired from their positions as well as Lisa Page, a former FBI agent with whom Strzok was having an affair, and Russian crime expert Bruce Ohr, a lawyer at the Justice Department.
All have been under scrutiny after texts between Page and Strzok raised questions about bias against Trump.
Rep. Adam Schiff, ranking Democrat on the embattled House Intelligence Committee, accused the president of releasing the material for political purposes.
“President Trump has intervened again in a pending investigation by ordering the selective disclosure of classified materials he believes to be helpful to his defense,” Schiff tweeted. “The DOJ and FBI have previously informed me that release of some of this information would cross a ‘red line.’”