On Monday, Donald Trump ordered the Justice Department to declassify highly sensitive materials related to an ongoing investigation into his own campaign and administration. Specifically, the president demanded the release of a variety of classified documents related to the FISA warrant application that the FBI submitted to monitor Carter Page; all FBI reports of interviews with senior Justice Department official Bruce Ohr (who communicated with former British spy and “dodgy dossier” author, Christopher Steele); and every text message that James Comey, Andrew McCabe, Peter Strzok, Lisa Page, and Bruce Ohr ever sent about the Russia investigation. The president stipulated that said text messages were to be made public “without redaction,” ostensibly ordering the Justice Department to disclose sensitive intelligence sources and methods if that is what full transparency requires.
This was an audacious exercise of Executive authority, even by Trump’s formidable standards. Not only was the president interfering in an active investigation (in which he has a blatant conflict of interest), he was also potentially jeopardizing the security of American intelligence assets, and/or the comfort that foreign intelligence agencies have in sharing their secrets with the United States. A wide array of intelligence experts and officials voiced their opposition to the move. The Justice Department — which did not receive advance instructions detailing exactly what it was expected to release — immediately signaled its intention to slow-walk the request.
All of which prompted the question: What explosive revelations had Trump discovered in these documents? After all, the president doesn’t need to declassify intelligence in order to access it. So he must have already found something that the public needed to know so desperately, concerns about obstruction of justice and national security were mere afterthoughts. It’s not like Donald Trump would release classified materials without first looking into whether the underlying information was important to enough to offset the intelligence community’s concerns — would he?
In an interview with the Hill Tuesday, the president clarified that he would, indeed:
Buck Sexton: Have you reviewed the memos yourself? What do you expect them to show, if so?
President Trump: I have not reviewed them. I have been asked by many people in Congress as you know to release them. I have watched commentators that I respect begging the president of the United States to release them….I have been asked by so many people that I respect, please — the great Lou Dobbs, the great Sean Hannity, the wonderful great Jeanie Pirro.
When fascism comes to America, it will be because a Fox News segment producer took Judge Jeanine’s “Opening Statement” a tad too far.