A group of conservative Republicans has requested that President Trump declassify documents related to the Russian probe. According to the Washington Post, the group is looking to attain “several key documents from the FBI’s investigations into the president’s suspected Russia ties” in order to find a way around the federal agency that GOP members have been battling with for months.
“Mr. President, we need your help,” Rep. Matt Gaetz said in a news conference announcing their request of the president. Rep. Gaetz said that obtaining the information would help to expose “the rotten basis for the investigations that continue, solely to delegitimize the duly elected president of the United States.”
The group is led by Rep. Lee Zeldin, and they hope to get the president to declassify 20 pages from the FBI’s request for surveillance of Carter Page, a former adviser on President Trump’s 2016 campaign. The group has also asked that Trump declassify documents that “they believe contain exculpatory evidence that was left out of the FBI’s application.” As the Washington Post reports, these documents have already been provided to the “Gang of Eight,” a group of people at the highest levels of Congress and intelligence committees that are always provided with the “most sensitive intelligence.”
Lastly, the GOP members are asking for a declassification of a series of official memos from Christopher Steele’s interviews, the man who alleged that Trump had business and personal ties with Russia. Steele was questioned about his dossier by Justice Department official Bruce Ohr in 2016 and 2017. The group believes that Steele’s dossier served as the FBI’s basis for requesting surveillance on Page, but this allegation has been disputed by intelligence officials.
The group’s end goal is to reveal the FBI’s refusal to admit that Steele had a bias against president Trump and that certain things in the dossier would undermine the FBI’s application to surveil Page.
“Powers were abused, the FISA court was misled, and we have zero tolerance for any of it. The government has a responsibility not only to provide its best evidence in support of its application but also the best evidence it has against its case. In this case, the DOJ failed to do so,” said Zeldin.
Though the president does have the authority to declassify documents, declassification does not often occur until other members of the administration and the department involved in the documentation come to a consensus.