Trump: Declassified Russia probe papers expose 'bad things'

WASHINGTON (AP) — President Donald Trump declassified a trove of documents related to the early days of the FBI's Russia investigation, including a portion of a secret surveillance warrant application and former FBI Director James Comey's text messages.

Trump made the extraordinary move Monday in response to calls from his allies in Congress who say they believe the Russia investigation was tainted by anti-Trump bias within the ranks of the FBI and the Justice Department. It also came as Trump continued his efforts to undermine special counsel Robert Mueller's probe after the guilty plea of his former campaign chairman Paul Manafort and amid the ongoing grand jury investigation into a longtime associate, Roger Stone.

Trump's decision will result in the release of text messages and documents involving several top Justice Department and FBI officials who Trump has repeatedly attacked over the last year.

The president tweeted Tuesday on the move, quoting a supportive congressman and adding: "Really bad things were happening, but they are now being exposed. Big stuff!"

33 PHOTOS
Trump's tweets about the Mueller Russia probe
See Gallery
Trump's tweets about the Mueller Russia probe
So disgraceful that the questions concerning the Russian Witch Hunt were “leaked” to the media. No questions on Col… https://t.co/T2n7SAWgJp
There was no Collusion (it is a Hoax) and there is no Obstruction of Justice (that is a setup & trap). What there i… https://t.co/WU8JFuWLJi
House Intelligence Committee rules that there was NO COLLUSION between the Trump Campaign and Russia. As I have bee… https://t.co/n4809kuVx3
Just Out: House Intelligence Committee Report released. “No evidence” that the Trump Campaign “colluded, coordinate… https://t.co/3erasoPL4N
This memo totally vindicates “Trump” in probe. But the Russian Witch Hunt goes on and on. Their was no Collusion an… https://t.co/GPYj4JbKgN
It would seem very hard to obstruct justice for a crime that never happened! Witch Hunt!
This is the single greatest witch hunt of a politician in American history!
You are witnessing the single greatest WITCH HUNT in American political history - led by some very bad and conflicted people! #MAGA
“Russians had no compromising information on Donald Trump” @FoxNews Of course not, because there is none, and neve… https://t.co/R9sniNq1ar
Congratulations to @ABC News for suspending Brian Ross for his horrendously inaccurate and dishonest report on the… https://t.co/wEVP4iGN6n
The Mueller probe should never have been started in that there was no collusion and there was no crime. It was base… https://t.co/oMCKEA7WmJ
The 13 Angry Democrats in charge of the Russian Witch Hunt are starting to find out that there is a Court System in… https://t.co/W32TtSNOrw
A must watch: Legal Scholar Alan Dershowitz was just on @foxandfriends talking of what is going on with respect to… https://t.co/EZ7cdgtUUo
A TOTAL WITCH HUNT!!!
A complete Witch Hunt!
The Russia Witch Hunt is rapidly losing credibility. House Intelligence Committee found No Collusion, Coordination… https://t.co/MMfLEunjG6
The single greatest Witch Hunt in American history continues. There was no collusion, everybody including the Dems… https://t.co/j7rc1QKCLw
James Comey Memos just out and show clearly that there was NO COLLUSION and NO OBSTRUCTION. Also, he leaked classif… https://t.co/YfMYBrTkza
As the phony Russian Witch Hunt continues, two groups are laughing at this excuse for a lost election taking hold, Democrats and Russians!
...case against him & now wants to clear his name by showing "the false or misleading testimony by James Comey, John Brennan..." Witch Hunt!
The MAKE AMERICA GREAT AGAIN agenda is doing very well despite the distraction of the Witch Hunt. Many new jobs, high business enthusiasm,..
Jared Kushner did very well yesterday in proving he did not collude with the Russians. Witch Hunt. Next up, 11 year old Barron Trump!
When James Clapper himself, and virtually everyone else with knowledge of the witch hunt, says there is no collusion, when does it end?
My son Donald did a good job last night. He was open, transparent and innocent. This is the greatest Witch Hunt in political history. Sad!
Despite the phony Witch Hunt going on in America, the economic & jobs numbers are great. Regulations way down, jobs and enthusiasm way up!
A total WITCH HUNT with massive conflicts of interest!
Is this Phony Witch Hunt going to go on even longer so it wrongfully impacts the Mid-Term Elections, which is what… https://t.co/7LtsbGyV80
The Mueller probe should never have been started in that there was no collusion and there was no crime. It was base… https://t.co/oMCKEA7WmJ
Much of the bad blood with Russia is caused by the Fake & Corrupt Russia Investigation, headed up by the all Democr… https://t.co/eA1AtTPv49
“Special Council is told to find crimes, whether a crime exists or not. I was opposed to the selection of Mueller t… https://t.co/KYsOPqiVBG
I have agreed with the historically cooperative, disciplined approach that we have engaged in with Robert Mueller (… https://t.co/yjSuYhmzJb
Why does the Mueller team have 13 hardened Democrats, some big Crooked Hillary supporters, and Zero Republicans? An… https://t.co/wKNAVhWJcz
If I wanted to fire Robert Mueller in December, as reported by the Failing New York Times, I would have fired him.… https://t.co/wi7FDNjqK7
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White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders announced Trump's decision in a written statement, saying the president had directed the Office of the Director of National Intelligence and the Justice Department to declassify the documents "at the request of a number of committees of Congress, and for reasons of transparency." It was unclear how soon the documents would be released.

In statements Monday evening, the Justice Department and the office of Director of National Intelligence Dan Coats said they are working together to comply with Trump's order, which triggers a declassification review by various agencies "to seek to ensure the safety of America's national security interests." That review is ongoing.

According to the statement, Trump declassified 21 pages of the 101-page June 2017 application to renew a warrant obtained under the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act, or FISA, to monitor the communications of former Trump campaign adviser Carter Page in 2016.

Those pages only make up a small part of the 412 pages of FISA applications and court orders related to Page released by the FBI earlier this year in heavily redacted format.

The June 2017 application was the last of four filed by the Justice Department in support of FISA court orders allowing the monitoring of Page. His communications were monitored for nearly a year starting in October 2016.

According to the redacted version, three of the declassified pages involve information included in a section titled "The Russian Government's Coordinated Efforts to Influence the 2016 U.S. Presidential Election." That section includes reference to potential coordination between people associated with Trump's campaign and the Russian election interference effort.

The other 18 pages appear to relate to information the government submitted that came from ex-British spy Christopher Steele before the presidential election. Steele was a longtime FBI informant whose Democratic-funded research into Trump ties to Russia was compiled into a dossier that has become a partisan lightning rod since its publication in January 2017.

Besides the FISA applications pages, the president is declassifying all FBI reports documenting interviews in connection with the Page surveillance warrant and those documenting interviews with senior Justice Department official Bruce Ohr, who was in contact with Steele.

According to Sanders' statement, Trump also directed the Justice Department to publicly release in full the text messages of Comey, Ohr, former acting FBI Director Andrew McCabe, former FBI lawyer Lisa Page and former FBI special agent Peter Strzok that are related to the Russia investigation.

The move comes after a small group of Republicans in Congress, all staunch allies of Trump, held a news conference last week asking him to declassify the documents. Democrats criticized the effort, saying the GOP lawmakers were trying to discredit the Justice Department in an effort to protect Trump from Mueller's investigation.

Trump made a similar move in February when the White House, over the objections of the FBI and intelligence community, cleared the way for the Republican-led House intelligence committee to release a partisan memo about the surveillance warrant on Page. Democrats weeks later released their own memo.

The disclosures were unprecedented given that surveillance warrants obtained from the secret court are highly classified and are not meant to be publicly disclosed, including to defendants preparing for or awaiting trial.

The declassification of the documents was quickly praised by Trump allies in Congress and attacked by Democrats.

"Transparency wins. This is absolutely the right call from @POTUS," said Rep. Mark Meadows, a North Carolina Republican, on Twitter.

Meadows, who had pushed for the documents' release, said it will allow the American people to decide "what happened at the highest levels of their FBI and Justice Department."

And the No. 3 Republican in the House, Louisiana Rep. Steve Scalise, tweeted that Trump made the right call.

"Americans deserve the truth about these egregious actions by government officials," Scalise said.

But Rep. Adam Schiff of California, the ranking Democrat on the House intelligence committee, called Trump's decision a "clear abuse of power" intended to advance a "false narrative" to help in his defense from Mueller's probe.

Schiff said the FBI and the Justice Department had said releasing the documents would cross a "red line" because doing so would compromise sources and methods.

Rep. Elijah Cummings of Maryland and Rep. Jerrold Nadler of New York, the ranking Democrats on the House Oversight and Judiciary committees, said in a statement that Trump's actions were a "direct and frantic response" to Manafort's recent guilty plea and cooperation agreement with Mueller.

"With the walls clearly closing in on him, President Trump is lashing out with this extraordinarily reckless and irresponsible release of classified information in a desperate attempt to distract from the seven guilty pleas and the mounting evidence of multiple criminal enterprises among his closest advisors," they said.

11 PHOTOS
People reportedly interviewed in Robert Mueller's Russia probe
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People reportedly interviewed in Robert Mueller's Russia probe

U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions 

(Photo by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)

Former FBI Director James Comey

(REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst)

Former White House Chief of Staff Reince Priebus

(REUTERS/Joshua Roberts)

Former White House press secretary Sean Spicer

(REUTERS/Kevin Lamarque)

White House Director of Strategic Communications Hope Hicks

(Photo by Jabin Botsford/The Washington Post via Getty Images)

Trump advisor Stephen Miller

(REUTERS/Kevin Lamarque)

President Trump's son-in-law and senior advisor Jared Kushner 

(bBRENDAN SMIALOWSKI/AFP/Getty Images)

Don McGahn, general counsel for the Trump transition team

(Photo by Drew Angerer/Getty Images)

Christopher Steele, the former MI6 agent who compiled the reported Trump dossier 

(Photo by Victoria Jones/PA Images via Getty Images)

Sam Clovis, a former member of the Trump campaign

(Photo by Win McNamee/Getty Images)

CIA Director Mike Pompeo
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Associated Press writers Mary Clare Jalonick, Eric Tucker and Deb Riechmann contributed to this report.

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