When the President made the decision to order the declassification and release of various documents from the Russia, Russia, Russia investigation, there was an immediate uproar. The documents to be declassified included one section of the initial 2017 FISA application against Carter Page, as well as some of the FBI’s notes taken during interviews with Page and Bruce Ohr, having mostly to do with the Steele dossier. The strange aspect of the protests was the fact that they all seemed to be coming from one side of the aisle. Now, the most senior Democrats in Congress are trying to slam the brakes on the process by asking the Justice Department and the FBI to provide an “immediate briefing” to the Gang of Eight. (Daily Caller)
Leading congressional Democrats are looking to stall the process to release documents related to the Russia investigation, which President Donald Trump ordered declassified on Monday.
Reps. Nancy Pelosi and Adam Schiff and Sens. Chuck Schumer and Mark Warner, sent a letter Tuesday asking Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein, FBI Director Christopher Wray and Director of National Intelligence Dan Coats to provide an “immediate briefing” to the Gang of Eight before declassifying and releasing the documents…
The Democrats argue that Trump’s action is a “brazen abuse of power” aimed at undermining the special counsel’s investigation into possible collusion between the Trump campaign and Russian government.
They further claimed that “absent an indictment,” the subjects of federal investigations “should not be able to access law enforcement or related national security information for any reason.”
The curious part of all this is that some of the people who have been screaming the most loudly about transparency (when they want information damaging to the President to be released) are now suddenly the people who are concerned about protecting sources and methods or compromising the investigation. We should also be reminded that it’s the President and his top intelligence officials who make the final call on what information should be classified. It’s also their responsibility to live with the results of any declassification.
Here’s at least one point to consider. I completely agree that the government should be able to protect sources and methods, but how much would that really apply here? As far as sources go, we already know the identities of the people who were being questioned. That information leaked out ages ago and has been plastered all over the media on a daily basis. (And when the stories looked bad for the White House, none of these security-minded Democrats seemed to be objecting.) If there were any other people involved in connecting the dots to come up with Page and Ohr’s names, their identities can be redacted easily enough.
The same goes for methods. This sounds like a pretty straightforward investigation, but if it involved any particularly clever tricks, they could be blacked out as well. It’s also very difficult to see how declassifying anything that they’ve already discovered is going to somehow imperil the investigation. It’s not as if this is suddenly going to tip off Ohr and Page at this point. I think they’ve figured out that they were being surveilled.
It’s not just the Democrats on the hill, either. I’ve been seeing analysts on CNN commenting on how this request could somehow undercut the Special Counsel or the investigation itself. Really? The media has been joyously accepting leaks from Mueller’s team right and left and running blaring headlines about anything that makes it look as if the noose is closing in on the President. But now, all of a sudden they’re concerned about protecting classified information? Pardon me for guffawing a bit.
The senior Democrats involved in this have been poo-pooing the idea that there was something improper going on in relation to the origins of the investigations into Ohr and Page, as well as the Steele dossier. If that’s the case, why are you worried about the public seeing this information? If they want to keep a lid on it this badly, that makes me suspect it really is material we need to see.