In announcing he was ordering the declassification of selected sensitive documents and text messages related to the active investigation of Russian campaign interference and his own campaign, President Trump cited "reasons of transparency" and requests from "a number of committees of Congress." Conservative House Republicans allied with Trump, who have been demanding the documents for months over the objection of intelligence officials, cheered the win for "transparency."
On the other hand, The Wall Street Journal reports, "legal experts and former government officials said the move represented an extraordinary level of presidential involvement in an investigation that has notched guilty pleas from five of Mr. Trump's associates," including his former campaign chairman and vice-chairman and his national security adviser. The materials deal with how the FBI obtained a FISA warrant to surveil Trump adviser Carter Page, and "because FISA deals with espionage matters, it is one of the most closely guarded processes in the federal government," the Journal notes.
Rep. Adam Schiff (Calif.), the top Democrat on the House Intelligence Committee, said Trump's "selective release of materials he believes are helpful to his defense team and thinks will advance a false narrative" is a "clear abuse of power," and based on his conversations with federal law enforcement officials, the FBI and Justice Department see the release of these unredacted documents as "a red line that must not be crossed as they may compromise sources and methods."
Trump didn't tell the Justice Department what he was going to declassify before making the public announcement, The Washington Post report, and the Justice Department emphasized that Trump triggered "a declassification review process that is conducted by various agencies within the intelligence community, in conjunction with the White House counsel, to seek to ensure the safety of America's national security interests." You can watch CNN's Evan Perez discuss what Trump and his allies are looking for and happens next below. Peter Weber