In a scathing critique of Donald Trump’s order to immediately declassify documents from the FBI’s active investigation into his own campaign’s ties with Russia, former CIA analyst Cindy Otis wrote that the president had abused his power unlike anything witnessed under recent U.S. presidencies.
Per The Hill, Trump’s order includes the release of additional pages and interviews used by the FBI in its application to put former Trump aide Carter Page under electronic surveillance, as well as all the files prepared by current FBI Russia expert Bruce Ohr in the case.
Otis wrote that such an order poses a direct risk to U.S. national security, something underlined by the Department of Justice and FBI already, according to USA Today.
“The release of these reports will threaten the integrity of the ongoing investigation, damage our intelligence collection efforts, expose our sources, and once again give our true adversary — Russia, but also countries like China — the strategic upper hand and clear insights into our most classified processes. It is also the latest in efforts by the Trump administration and Republican members of Congress to politicize our national security and intelligence for personal political gain.”
But the former CIA military analyst wrote that even releasing those documents might not hurt the American democracy as much as the releasing of all text exchanges by those who are foremost on the president’s personal enemy radar, including former FBI Director James Comey, former FBI Deputy Director Andrew McCabe, former FBI officials Peter Stzrok and Lisa Page, and of course, Ohr.
Trump’s declassification order is an obvious abuse of presidential power, the Editorial Board writes https://t.co/lmdrJ2HDDD
— Post Opinions (@PostOpinions) September 19, 2018
Trump had said earlier this week that the release of the documents would vindicate his “hoax” theory, saying a conspiracy to undermine him was underway at the FBI, which he called a “cancer in our country.”
Otis wrote that while attacking those who didn’t agree with Trump had become something of a norm during his presidency, this week’s announcement marked a serious and direct escalation in his efforts to undermine America’s democratic institutions. Otis speculated on the reason for the announcement, noting that it came on the heels of former campaign chairman Paul Manafort agreeing to cooperate in the Mueller investigation. This has reportedly made the president feel insecure and increasingly cornered, and his order to release the documents is a manifestation of his desperation, Otis maintained.
Moreover, the decision seriously undermines the efforts put in by numerous law enforcement agents who work every day irrespective of their politics and is aimed to turn Trump’s core group of supporters against the very institutions that make America what it is.
“Trump’s ‘crowning achievement’ will not be exposing corruption in the FBI, as he said it would be on Tuesday,” Otis wrote. “Rather, it will be the hundreds of thousands of his supporters he has been able to turn against the same institutions meant to keep them safe by keeping terrorists out and holding politicians to the laws of the land. For Trump, that is a win.”