After saying earlier this week that he would declassify documents related to the investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 presidential Election, Donald Trump has changed his mind, saying he will no longer do so reports the Washington Post.
Trump said that officials in the Justice Department were mostly responsible for the change, although he had consulted with others and was persuaded that revoking the decree would be the best decision.
The president had issued a decree ordering that all documents related to the Russia probe be declassified on Monday, reported the Inquisitr. That decision would then make them much more accessible to members of Congress and potentially to the public.
Deciding to declassify the information surprised many people, including those in the intelligence community, given the investigation is currently ongoing. That included criticism from a former CIA agent who called the decision a “blatant abuse of power” that “risks national security” according to the Inquisitr.
The announcement came through the president’s favored medium of releasing information to the public, Twitter, where he spoke about the advice he received from “allies.” In the tweets, Trump mentioned that he could “always declassify if it proves necessary” hinting that this decision may not be the last word on the matter.
….has been asked to review these documents on an expedited basis. I believe he will move quickly on this (and hopefully other things which he is looking at). In the end I can always declassify if it proves necessary. Speed is very important to me – and everyone!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) September 21, 2018
According to sources who spoke to the Washington Post, the two main advocates for reversing the decision who had discussions with the president were White House lawyer Emmet Flood and deputy attorney general, Rod J. Rosenstein. Flood’s discussions with Trump on the matter have reportedly been happening for several weeks but became more intense this week after Trump’s decree.
In not releasing the information Trump may upset his conservative allies on Capitol Hill who have called for the materials to be declassified. The chief concern of those lawmakers has been the court order which gave the right to monitor the communications of Trump campaign aide Carter Paige, something that the White House statement on Monday had specifically mentioned.
Fox News was invoked by the President as an organization the had persuaded him to make the declassification order after they accused the DOJ of hiding information that would discredit the probe.
By changing his mind Trump has signaled that he is willing to let the DOJ’s inspector general investigation into the handling of the Russia probe review the information behind closed doors and release those findings. But in his tweets announcing the reversal, the president emphasized that speed is important to him, perhaps putting pressure on the inspector general to wrap up the investigation quickly or face the materials being declassified anyway.