President Donald Trump has directed White House chief of staff Mark Meadows to begin the process of declassifying more documents tied to the Obama administration’s investigation and spying on the Trump 2016 presidential campaign.
“He’s already tasked me with getting some declassification rolling, in a follow up to some of the requests that Devin Nunes and others have made,” Meadows told “Fox and Friends” on Oct. 5, referring to House Intelligence Committee ranking member Devin Nunes (R-Calif.)
The show’s hosts didn’t ask Meadows for details, but the mention of Nunes suggests that part of the declassification may deal with documents the California Republican brought up during an interview on Oct. 4.
Nunes told Fox News’ “Sunday Morning Futures” host Maria Bartiromo that he’s looking to declassify two more summaries of the FBI interviews of Igor Danchenko, the primary source of the infamous Steele dossier.
A Washington-based Russian national, Danchenko was once suspected of being a spy for Moscow and investigated by the FBI, according to documents released by Attorney General William Barr last month. The summary of the FBI’s first interview with Danchenko revealed that Christopher Steele, the author of the Steele dossier, amplified rumors from Danchenko and presented them as serious claims in the dossier.
The interview summary also revealed that Danchenko wasn’t a highly placed Kremlin source, but instead a run-of-the-mill Washington analyst who sourced his information from childhood acquaintances.
“The American public needs to see the three reports that we know about at least from the Democrats’ Russian spy that they hired,” Nunes said.
The congressman also referred to more classified documents tied to the information released last week by Director of National Intelligence (DNI) John Ratcliffe. In a letter (pdf) to Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.), Ratcliffe disclosed that the CIA in late July 2016 came into possession of a Russian intelligence analysis that claimed that Hillary Clinton approved a plot on July 26, 2016, to dirty up the Trump campaign by insinuating a link between the Trump campaign and Russia in connection with the alleged hacking of the Democratic National Committee.
The plan was meant to distract the public from the Clinton email scandal, according to the intelligence.
“The Clinton campaign created this sick fantasy. Then, they went out and hired avatars to do it,” Nunes said.
“The documents that are underlying that we now have seen—I’ve only seen a few of those—they’re definitely smoking guns. That information definitely needs to be made available to the American public. And from what I understand there is even more underlying evidence that backs up what Director Ratcliffe put out,” he added.
Nunes underlined how long it took to get the government to release some of the documents. He and his colleagues have been pushing for the information since early 2017.
“We want every damn bit of evidence that every intelligence agency has or it’s maybe time to shut those agencies down, because at the end of the day our liberties are more important than anything else we have in this country and they have been stampeded over by these dirty cops and the Democratic Party and the media who fails to report on it,” Nunes said.
CIA Director John Brennan personally briefed President Barack Obama in July 2016 about the Clinton intelligence, according to Ratcliffe, who cited notes taken by Brennan. The intelligence was also passed on as an investigative referral to then-FBI Director James Comey and special agent Peter Strzok.
In testimony before the Senate Judiciary Committee, Comey claimed to not remember receiving the referral.
The remarks by Meadows didn’t limit the declassification request to what Nunes said on Oct. 4. Over the years, Nunes has sought a large number of documents related to the origins of Crossfire Hurricane, the FBI’s codename for the investigation of the Trump campaign, and the conduct of its investigators. Meadows’s reference to “others” may include document requests from Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa), Sen. Ron Johnson (R-Wisc.), and Graham, among others.
The Obama-era FBI used a range of government surveillance tools in 2016 and 2017 to target Trump campaign associates as part of the Crossfire Hurricane probe. The bureau used Steele’s dossier, without verifying it, to obtain a Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) warrant to spy on former Trump campaign adviser Carter Page. The Clinton campaign was Steele’s ultimate client, a fact the FBI failed to disclose to the secret surveillance court.
One of the officials involved in obtaining the FISA warrant on Page pleaded guilty in August to a false statement charge. FBI attorney Kevin Clinesmith admitted to forging an email to falsely convey that Page hadn’t been a source for the CIA, even though the CIA had advised the bureau that the opposite was true.