After months of keeping his powder dry, President Trump has fired the first shot in his war on the unaccountable, unelected “fourth branch” of government, otherwise known as the deep state. By firing off his declassification and transparency order, the president has set up an imminent showdown with the federal bureaucracy that wants to maintain its grip on the levers of power in Washington D.C.
On Monday evening, President Trump ordered the “immediate declassification” of materials related to the Russia investigation and the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) applications used to spy on former campaign aide Carter Page. He has also directed the Department of Justice “to publicly release all text messages relating to the Russia investigation, without redaction, of James Comey, Andrew McCabe, Peter Strzok, Lisa Page, and Bruce Ohr.”
INBOX: President Trump has authorized the "immediate declassification" of several materials in connection with the Russia investigation, FBI interviews and Carter Page FISA apps. pic.twitter.com/jdcSdVIpx6
— Jordan Schachtel (@JordanSchachtel) September 17, 2018
Transparency advocates and supporters of the president celebrated the order as an important step in restoring the chief executive’s duly elected mandate, which has been endlessly challenged, threatened, and blocked by Justice Department bureaucrats and special counsel Robert Mueller’s endless Russia investigation. Mueller’s probe, which has yet to uncover a single piece of evidence related to “Trump-Russia collusion,” continues to advance Moscow’s goal of sowing discord in the United States, while undermining the president’s capabilities.
The president’s directive followed months of lobbying from top conservative congressional leaders and some of his most influential supporters. They urged President Trump to declassify the FISA applications and Russia investigation materials, arguing that these radical transparency measures will show the public that the Russia investigation is a farce and that the Department of Justice and the FBI are in desperate need of immediate reform.
Democrats and their media allies go full anti-transparency
Democratic leaders and their allies in the legacy media are pulling out all the stops to convince the public that the president should not be allowed to use his declassification authority. Immediately following the president’s statement, they moved in lockstep, arguing that declassifying information and making it available to the public somehow interferes in active investigations.
This is hogwash. This isn't selective; it's a sweeping disclosure, of most important docs related to Page FISA. Tho if Schiff wants to point to specific other docs that he says should be declassified, sure we'd all love to hear. Though don't anybody hold their breath. https://t.co/3ta4pMMnVR
— Kimberley Strassel (@KimStrassel) September 18, 2018
Then Warner should enter the rest of the documents into the Congressional Record, an activity which is wholly protected under the Speech and Debate clause in the Constitution. Unless he's just playing games and doesn't really want transparency, that is. https://t.co/MWliDQRUcU
— Sean Davis (@seanmdav) September 18, 2018
But as many have pointed out, declassification is the opposite of interference, and the president, as the leader of the executive branch, has command over decision-making at the Department of Justice. The spin coming from CNN, MSNBC, and Democrat leaders simply does not hold much intellectual weight.
I know. You would think everyone would be clamoring for the information -instead some are pushing back. The problem is some were duped by sources they have trusted for a long time. But once the facts come out it’s the job of a journalist to confront it and ask tough questions https://t.co/s7LrTn6hZ1
— Sara A. Carter (@SaraCarterDC) September 18, 2018
CNN spinning unredacted text messages as "threat" to national security. Have you ever seen reporters try so hard to not cover a story, and not want to see more documents?
— Elizabeth Harrington (@LizWFB) September 17, 2018
On @IngrahamAngle, House Intel chair Devin Nunes on Dem claim that declassifying Trump-Russia documents poses great danger: 'I don't know how many times they're going to run that play, but it's laughable that they're saying this is going to somehow endanger national security.'
— Byron York (@ByronYork) September 18, 2018
Expect Rosenstein and the deep state to rebel against the order
There are concerns that the FBI and other intelligence agencies will attempt to slow-walk or completely rebel against the order to declassify and unredact the documents and text messages, given their consistent tendencies to rebel against administration orders. In the past, the FBI has used “national security” as an excuse to redact important facts about the Bureau’s conduct during the Russia investigation.
It’s also important to remember that Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein, who will inevitably play a major role in the declassification process, was responsible for appointing Robert Mueller. His investigation has yet to find any evidence of collusion, while costing U.S. taxpayers a small fortune. Rosenstein also signed off on several controversial FISA applications, which appear to have used the salacious and unverified Trump-Russia dossier as evidence against Trump campaign and transition officials. Rosenstein has every reason to continue to thwart these transparency efforts, because the end result will undoubtedly expose his reckless actions.
Yes, the president ordered “immediate declassification,” but knowing how things work in Washington, the resulting stream of information may not come so quickly. While the order concerning the Carter Page FISA application is relatively cut and dried, declassifying text messages related to the Russia investigation will likely take some time. Given that the Justice Department may have to sort through materials that could deal with national security sources and methods, one can expect this often used excuse for classification and redaction to considerably delay the timeline of released materials. In order for the declassification process to succeed, the president may need to devote substantial resources to the process, even if that means personally overseeing it.