Two top Republican senators are demanding answers from Attorney General Merrick Garland because the Justice Department has failed to release anything in the “binder” of Crossfire Hurricane documents that former President Donald Trump ordered declassified during his last day in office. FILE – In this June 23, 2021 file photo, President Joe Biden listens as Attorney General Merrick Garland speaks during an event in the State Dining room of the White House in Washington to discuss gun crime prevention strategy. Garland traveled to Chicago last week to announce an initiative to crack down on violent crime and gun trafficking. The Justice Department’s 93 U.S. attorneys are likely to be central to that effort.(AP Photo/Susan Walsh) Susan Walsh/AP
Justice Department hasn’t released Russia documents Trump ordered declassified on last day
Jerry Dunleavy October 15, 04:51 PM October 15, 04:54 PM
Two top Republican senators are demanding answers from Attorney General Merrick Garland because the Justice Department has failed to release anything in the “binder” of Crossfire Hurricane documents that former President Donald Trump ordered declassified during his last day in office.
The memo from Trump said he had “determined that the materials in that binder should be declassified to the maximum extent possible.” The FBI said in mid-January that the bureau had “identified the passages that it believed it was most crucial to keep from public disclosure.”
Trump said he would “accept the redactions proposed for continued classification by the FBI” and ordered the rest of the documents to be declassified and made available by the Justice Department.
Sens. Chuck Grassley and Ron Johnson said this week they are “seeking full transparency” on the steps Garland has taken to declassify the records, charging that the Justice Department has “has made no apparent progress toward transparency and has rebuffed numerous inquiries from members of Congress on the matter.”
Grassley and Johnson’s letter noted they first requested an update on when a “full and complete set of declassified records would be provided to Congress” back on Feb. 25, and they contended that since then, they had had “countless emails and phone calls requesting updates on your office’s efforts to follow through on President Trump’s declassification directive, to which your office has consistently failed to provide any substantive update.” The senators added that the DOJ “has not produced a single declassified record to Congress and the American people.”
The “witch hunt,” as Trump called it, began with the FBI opening up an investigation into his campaign’s ties to Russia in the summer of 2016. That inquiry, code-named Crossfire Hurricane, was wrapped into Robert Mueller’s special counsel investigation.
Mueller’s team released a report in April 2019 that said investigators “identified numerous links between the Russian government and the Trump Campaign” but “did not establish that members of the Trump Campaign conspired or coordinated with the Russian government in its election interference activities.”
Justice Department Inspector General Michael Horowitz released a report in December 2019 that criticized the Justice Department and the FBI for 17 “significant errors and omissions” related to the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act warrants against former Trump campaign associate Carter Page and for the bureau’s reliance on British ex-spy Christopher Steele’s discredited and Democratic-funded dossier.
Special counsel John Durham is investigating the origins and conduct of the Trump-Russia investigation.
Fired FBI Deputy Director Andrew McCabe, who had his pension reinstated and his removal reversed in a settlement with the Biden DOJ, said in November that releasing further Trump-Russia investigation documents “would also risk casting the president [Trump] in a very negative light.”
Former Director of National Intelligence John Ratcliffe declassified handwritten notes from former CIA Director John Brennan in October showing he briefed then-President Barack Obama in 2016 on an unverified Russian intelligence report claiming former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton planned in July 2016 on tying then-candidate Trump to Russia’s hack of the Democratic National Committee to distract from her improper use of a private email server.
Ratcliffe said in October that his office had provided almost 1,000 pages of materials to the Justice Department in response to Durham’s document requests. The former Trump spy chief said over the weekend that the documents he’d provided to Durham would support additional criminal charges. Ex-FBI lawyer Kevin Clinesmith pleaded guilty to editing an email fraudulently to say former Trump campaign adviser Carter Page was “not a source” for the CIA, and Durham recently indicted Democratic cybersecurity lawyer for allegedly misleading the FBI when pushing claims about a secret back channel between a Russian bank and the Trump Organization.
“Unfortunately, this specific example of the Biden Justice Department’s failure to produce responsive material is consistent with its pattern and practice under your leadership. As we have noted to you, the declassification of these records is not just a matter responsive to ongoing congressional oversight; it is a matter of posterity,” Grassley and Johnson wrote to Garland.
“Crossfire Hurricane has been the subject of many public reports, letters, hearings and document productions. Accordingly, this cannot be overstated — the public has a right to possess these records,” they said.
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