On September 17, President Donald Trump ordered the declassification and public release of sensitive classified documents and text messages related to the origin of the investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election. For weeks leading up to the president’s decision, two of his informal and most-trusted cable television advisers, Sean Hannity and Lou Dobbs, clamored for the release of the material. Hannity even appeared to have gotten some early notice of the move, saying just days before Trump’s decision to declassify the material, “We expect next week, we might get those unredacted FISA warrants.”
Trump orders declassification of a number of documents and text messages relating to the origin of the Russia investigation
WSJ: Trump “ordered the declassification of sensitive documents related to the investigation into Russian election interference.” In an “unprecedented” move, Trump ordered the declassification of various documents and text messages relating to the beginning of the investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election. From the Wall Street Journal’s September 17 article:
President Trump ordered the declassification of sensitive documents related to the investigation into Russian election interference, a move that could eventually allow the public unprecedented access to a probe that he has repeatedly railed against.
Mr. Trump on Monday ordered that more than 20 pages of a federal warrant used to obtain a secret wiretap on one of his former advisers, Carter Page, be declassified, as well as all Federal Bureau of Investigation interviews that went into obtaining the warrant.
Mr. Trump also ordered that text messages from senior Justice Department and FBI officials be made public without redactions. Those officials include former FBI director James Comey, former deputy director Andrew McCabe, former FBI agent Peter Strzok, former FBI lawyer Lisa Page and Justice Department official Bruce Ohr.
The surveillance was authorized under the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act, a law used to obtain wiretaps and conduct searches of suspected foreign spies. Because FISA deals with espionage matters, it is one of the most closely guarded processes in the federal government and is overseen by a secret court. [The Wall Street Journal, 9/17/18]
Hannity and Dobbs have used their platforms to call for the public release of FISA materials relating to the inception of the Russia investigation
- Hannity: “I am calling for all of this warrant to be unredacted. The president can do this.”
SEAN HANNITY (HOST): Tonight, we have confirmation right now tonight that America's top secret FISA court system was totally abused for political gain, judges lied to repeatedly and on purpose by the top echelon in our FBI and others. The FBI has now released their foreign surveillance warrant against one-time Trump campaign associate Carter Page. These contents go to the root core of our constitutional republic.
And still tonight, we have even more questions than even earlier this FISA application is heavily redacted. The American people deserve to see it. I am calling for all of this warrant to be unredacted.
HANNITY: He should sign it, release a totally unredacted version and all those documents that Congress has been beating their brains over, how about he has the authority to release all of it? How about we release it all? Let the -- let's be transparent. [Fox News, Hannity, 7/23/18]
- Hannity: “How about we would release 19 pages unredacted … of the last warrant that [Deputy Attorney General] Rod Rosenstein signed off on because I hear it’s devastating to him and to others? Let the American people see all of it.” [Fox News, Hannity, 7/30/18]
- Trump lawyer Jay Sekulow on Hannity: The “decision” to release unredacted FISA application materials “I’m sure is being discussed. … Transparency is important here. And I think one of the aspects of transparency is, what are in these documents.” [Fox News, Hannity, 8/7/18]
- Fox News contributor Jason Chaffetz on Hannity: “The president is going to have to” release unredacted FISA application materials “because “Attorney General [Jeff] Sessions is there in name only. He’s not doing anything.” [Fox News, Hannity, 8/29/18]
- Dobbs: “Why is the president not ordering the release of this and declassifying all of that paperwork and putting it in front of the American people and the special counsel so we can get a little clearer picture on who Robert Mueller really is?” [Fox Business, Lou Dobbs Tonight, 9/4/18]
- Hannity: “It seems like the unredacted materials that everyone is requesting, FISA warrants, 302s, and other issues that could be exculpatory, even people like Papadopoulos and Page, this could all be coming out tomorrow or within days.” [Fox News, Hannity, 9/6/18]
- Dobbs: “The first effort that looks possible to see a declassification of documents is at hand. The president -- is there any rational reason on Earth that he would resist declassifying those FISA documents?” [Fox Business, Lou Dobbs Tonight, 9/6/18]
- Hannity: “The president looks poised to finally declassify critically previously redacted sections of FISA applications against former Trump campaign associate Carter Page.” [Fox News, Hannity, 9/10/18]
- Dobbs: “President Trump pushing to declassify FISA documents related to the surveillance of his campaign, but meeting resistance from his own attorneys, apparently, in the White House.” [Fox Business, Lou Dobbs Tonight, 9/11/18]
- Hannity: “We know what we need. We need the 302s between Bruce Ohr and Christopher Steele. We need the unredacted FISA memos, specific pages, I’m told, 10 through 12, 17 through 34. If we’re going to be thorough, we would get all of the Gang of Eight material, as I understand, which would be available to everybody, a specific classified email chain from October 14 between the FBI and the DOJ, and every other request and everybody else that’s involved in this.” [Premiere Radio Networks, The Sean Hannity Show, 9/11/18]
- Hannity: “I read people and commenting that Sean Hannity and Sara Carter and Gregg are full of crap, but in fact this information does exist. It can be declassified and unredacted.” [Fox News, Hannity, 9/12/18]
- Hannity: “We expect next week, we might get those unredacted FISA warrants, 302s, the gang of eight information.” [Fox News, Hannity, 9/13/18]
- Hannity: “For months, right here on this program, we have been asking for the unredacted FISA documents to be released. Now, the president has done it.” [Hannity, Fox News, 9/17/18]