Trump authorizes DOJ to declassify Russia probe documents

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Kyle Cheney
·2 min read
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President Donald Trump on Tuesday authorized the declassification of a set of documents connected to the investigation of his 2016 campaign’s contacts with Russia.

Trump has long declared his intention to make public more of the sensitive materials underlying the probe, which he has maligned as a “witch hunt,” despite findings that his campaign sought and relied upon materials obtained by Russia to aid his campaign against Hillary Clinton.

Trump has spent his final weeks in office seeking to erase any vestiges of the investigation, pardoning key figures such as George Papadopoulos, the 2016 campaign aide whose interactions with a Russia-linked professor helped ignite the probe, known as Crossfire Hurricane.

It’s unclear which documents Trump has ordered declassified less than 24 hours before he leaves office. He cited the decision as based on the results of a Dec. 30 review he asked the Justice Department to perform. The department presented him with a “binder of materials” that remain classified, he said in a memorandum issued on Tuesday. Trump said he then asked for the documents to be declassified to “the maximum extent possible.”

The FBI responded that it believed that all of the materials should remain classified, but that some were particularly crucial and should at least be redacted.

“I have determined to accept the redactions proposed for continued classification by the FBI in that January 17 submission,” Trump said in his memo. “I hereby declassify the remaining materials in the binder. This is my final determination under the declassification review and I have directed the Attorney General to implement the redactions proposed in the FBI’s January 17 submission and return to the White House an appropriately redacted copy.”

It’s unclear when the newly declassified documents will become public. But Trump’s decision represents a sharp walkback from two previous assertions that he would declassify every document related to the probe, a longtime demand of his political allies, who have amplified his denigration of the investigation.