President Trump appeared to walk back his pledge to declassify some documents related to the Russia investigation on Friday, tweeting that "key allies" asked him not to release them.
Mr. Trump said the inspector general has been asked to review the documents he asked to be declassified "on an expedited basis." The president said he could always declassify the documents anyway, if necessary. Mr. Trump admitted to the Hill.TV in an interview this week that he had not yet read the documents before ordering them to be declassified.
"I met with the DOJ concerning the declassification of various UNREDACTED documents," the president tweeted Friday. "They agreed to release them but stated that so doing may have a perceived negative impact on the Russia probe. Also, key Allies' called to ask not to release."
"Therefore, the Inspector General.........has been asked to review these documents on an expedited basis," the president continued. "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!"
The documents the president had ordered declassified included FBI reports about, a Justice Department attorney the president has blasted, pages of a FISA application used to ultimately surveil former Trump campaign adviser Carter Page, and unredacted text messages of former FBI Director James Comey, former Deputy FBI Director Andrew McCabe and former FBI agent Peter Strzok.
Rep. Adam Schiff, the Democratic ranking member on the House Intelligence Committee, said the president acknowledged "strenuous" objections against releasing "highly sensitive material," but still expressed concern the president could declassify the documents unilaterally.
"President Trump today acknowledged strenuous objections by the Department of Justice and U.S. allies to releasing highly sensitive material — which is related to an ongoing law enforcement investigation examining conduct by President Trump, his campaign, and his associates — but still left open the possibility that he will defy their warnings and abuse his power by unilaterally declassifying such documents," Schiff said.
"This was already known to the president and his allies in Congress. The Justice Department and FBI had previously informed the administration and Congress that the release of these documents would cross a 'red line,' potentially compromising sources and methods and hindering the investigation. The president, the White House counsel, and the president's personal lawyers nevertheless seek access to this material for the corrupt purpose of discrediting the special counsel — we cannot allow that."