On her television show Laura Ingraham reported her ‘sources’ inform her President Trump will execute the declassification directive next week. [Video Tweet Link] If accurate, the timing –in advance of the OIG draft report– makes sense.
The declassification of documents central to previous congressional inquiry, that also encompasses the Inspector General review of the Carter Page FISA application, is the subject of great interest and speculation. However, it would make sense for President Trump to authorize the declassification of documents in advance of the IG report release.
Likely Inspector General Michael Horowitz has reviewed all of the documents in question. If Horowitz wants to include the classified content in his draft report for principle review; and later within the final report; those documents would need to be declassified or else they would be held back, footnoted and outlined in a classified appendix.
If the DOJ and President Trump want the information more broadly available to the public and media, it would make sense to declassify the documents – pending the review and approval of the participating intelligence agencies (DOJ, DOJ-NSD, CIA, NSA, State Dept., FBI, ODNI, DoD, etc.)
♦ The process without controversy – First, each of the executive branch intelligence agencies will have to sign-off on the declassification request, and/or explain to the Chief Executive (that’s Trump), through the ODNI, why their specific intelligence product should not be made public.
Generally speaking, now that the Mueller investigation is complete; and if there is no substantive risk to national security; the intelligence agencies will adhere/defer to the request of the executive. This is where the alignment and support from U.S. Attorney General Bill Barr is critically important.
In recent reporting Bill Barr has been outlined in discussions with the CIA and ODNI during his own intelligence review. It is almost certain those media reports are referencing contact and discussion about the IG report and declassification content.
The Office of the Director of National Intelligence (ODNI) Dan Coats is in charge of the executive declassification process overall. The ODNI is the intelligence hub that all requests and approvals flow through. If any intelligence unit or compartment has an argument against declassification their argument/justification against release (or redaction removal) is made to the ODNI.
The DOJ is one intelligence agency within the process; however, in this specific example the declassification directive will be targeted to fulfill the DOJ-OIG investigative framework of the inspector general. [Assuming this is the goal of President Trump] Therefore the DOJ will have increased weight and responsibility for coordination and support for the declassification request.
If all cabinet members of the executive branch are working toward full transparency; and assuming the current FBI doesn’t try to block any release; the process for declassification follows normal guidelines to notify any intelligence units that might be impacted by public release.
In this example, again assuming the list of classified documents is similar to those previously anticipated, there are possible foreign governments and intelligence units that would need advanced notification. In turn, those foreign agencies may request time to organize their intelligence interests and impacts.
ODNI Dan Coats would be responsible for working with DoS (Pompeo), CIA (Haspel), FBI (Wray), DOJ-NSD (Barr) and NSA (Nakasone). Each of those intelligence officers are then responsible for notifying their foreign counterpart of any information that might pertain to their interest(s). [Assuming the declassification touches on foreign interests.]
If everyone within the executive agrees, then likely Inspector General Michael Horowitz will be allowed to outline the declassified content in the main body of his report and not hidden within a classified index unavailable to the public.
If the declassified material extends beyond the interests of the executive, in this case it likely does, then the ODNI may select participating intelligence members to brief the congressional gang-of-eight on the material being declassified.
This is not always needed, but given the political interest in this example this will likely happen. The current Gang of Eight includes: Nancy Pelosi, Kevin McCarthy, Adam Schiff, Devin Nunes, Mitch McConnell, Chuck Schumer, Richard Burr and Mark Warner.
If the declassified material extends beyond the interests of the executive and the legislative, in this case it is possible vis-a-vis FISA, then the ODNI may also brief the Chair and ranking member of the house and Senate Judiciary Committees on the material being declassified. ie: Jerry Nadler, Doug Collins, Lindsey Graham and Dianne Feinstein.
Additionally, there is also a possibility the full Carter Page FISA application is being declassified. If so, there could be notification to the U.S. Judicial branch SCOTUS Chief Justice John Roberts and/or FISA Court Presiding Judge Rosemary Collyer.
So you can see this is a rather engaged and lengthy process as each participating interest is notified, and allowed time to provide feedback if they have any adverse interests to the release which may need to be considered. This is not as simple as President Trump saying “do it.” A declassification request is a process.
Yes, the President of the United States can unilaterally declassify any document he/she deem is in the national interest. However, that is never done. If you want to see how it is possible to do [READ THIS].
The President has the unilateral ability to declassify anything because he/she is often engaged in discussions with leaders of foreign governments, if the POTUS had to worry about his ability to discuss classified intelligence the President would be unable to engage in open discussion on interests of importance to the United States. Therefore the laws that allow the President his authority, are designed so that a President cannot violate any classified intelligence issue.
That’s the basis for the President’s ability to unilaterally declassify intelligence information and/or documents. Any previously classified material the president shares is considered declassified subject to the classification authority of the recipient.
In the example of declassifying documents the executive deems are of public interest, there is an assumption of no inherent national security urgency. Therefore the process to allow advanced review of those documents by all stakeholders is always followed.
You can imagine the political backlash if a president, any president, was making unilateral decisions to declassify material without going through the process to ensure national security interests were evaluated. Heck, even though President Trump is going through the lengthy and structured process, we will likely see his political opposition make this absurd claim anyway. [Keep that in mind]
All of that said, no-one really knows the documents and/or information that may be subject to this current declassification request. This was the original list as outlined in 2018:
- All versions of the Carter Page FISA applications (DOJ) (FBI) (ODNI).
- All of the Bruce Ohr 302’s filled out by the FBI. (FBI) (ODNI)
- All of Bruce Ohr’s emails (FBI) (DOJ) (CIA) (ODNI)
- All relevant documents pertaining to the supportive material within the FISA application. (FBI) (DOJ-NSD ) (DoS) (CIA) (DNI) (NSA) (ODNI);
- All supportive documents and material provided by Bruce Ohr to the FBI. (FBI)
- All intelligence documents that were presented to the Gang of Eight in 2016 that pertain to the FISA application used against U.S. person Carter Page; including all intelligence documents that may not have been presented to the FISA Court. (CIA) (FBI) (DOJ) (ODNI) (DoS) (NSA)
- All unredacted text messages and email content between Lisa Page and Peter Strzok on all devices. (FBI) (DOJ) (DOJ-NSD) (ODNI)
- The originating CIA “EC” or two-page electronic communication from former CIA Director John Brennan to FBI Director James Comey that started Operation Crossfire Hurricane in July 2016. (CIA) (FBI) (ODNI)
However, in the months since September 2018, there are more documents that may have been added to the list; specifically if they have been reviewed by Inspector General Horowitz and citations contained within the upcoming draft report on FISA abuse.
Also keep in mind, Mark Meadows outlined President Trump has never seen the documents or the information that would be contained within the documents. [More Here] Many people who do not know how the executive branch works have falsely stated that President Trump knows what is in those declassification documents. He doesn’t.
The Office of the Presidency is a system, not a person. The system is designed to protect the occupant of the office. In this specific example it would be against the direct interests of the President to have full knowledge of the material inside the declassification requests because the President was potentially a target and carries an inherent conflict of interest.
The President is reliant upon the trust of advisers to inform him of the value – or lack thereof – along with the legal and political risks therein; without any specific conversation about the content.
In short, President Trump may declassify material as requested, but other than general briefings, he likely has no independent idea what material is inside or behind the redactions. Again, understanding this process helps to explain procedural delays, and frustration from those without familiarity with all the roles attached to the executive.
Lastly, CTH doesn’t traffic in ‘hope-porn’. While we have presented a more detailed list of documents and material that we hope would be declassified, there’s almost no likelihood all of this material would be approved for release:
♦ President Trump can prove the July 31st, 2016, Crossfire Hurricane counterintelligence operation originated from a scheme within the intelligence apparatus by exposing the preceding CIA operation that created the originating “Electronic Communication” memo. Declassify that two-page “EC” document that Brennan gave to Comey. [The trail is found within the Weissmann report and the use of Alexander Downer – SEE HERE]
♦ Release and declassify all of the Comey memos that document the investigative steps taken by the FBI as an outcome of the operation coordinated by CIA Director John Brennan in early 2016. [The trail was memorialized by James Comey – SEE HERE]
♦ Reveal the November 2015 through April 2016 FISA-702 search query abuse by declassifying the April 2017 court opinion written by FISC Presiding Judge Rosemary Collyer. Show the FBI contractors behind the 85% fraudulent search queries. [Crowdstrike? Fusion-GPS? Nellie Ohr? Daniel Richman?] This was a weaponized surveillance and domestic political spying operation. [The trail was laid down in specific detail by Judge Collyer – SEE HERE]
♦ Subpoena former DOJ-NSD (National Security Division) head John Carlin, or haul him in front of a grand jury, and get his testimony about why he hid the abuse from the FISA court in October 2016; why the DOJ-NSD rushed the Carter Page application to beat NSA Director Admiral Mike Rogers to the FISA court; and why Carlin quit immediately thereafter.
♦ Prove the Carter Page FISA application (October 2016) was fraudulent and based on deceptions to the FISA Court. Declassify the entire document, and release the transcripts of those who signed the application(s); and/or depose those who have not yet testified. The creation of the Steele Dossier was the cover-up operation. [SEE HERE]
♦ Release all of the Lisa Page and Peter Strzok text messages without redactions. Let sunlight pour in on the actual conversation(s) that were taking place when Crossfire Hurricane (July ’16) and the FISA Application (Oct ’16) were taking place. The current redactions were made by the people who weaponized the intelligence system for political surveillance and spy operation. This is why Page and Strzok texts are redacted!
♦ Release all of Bruce Ohr 302’s, FBI notes from interviews and debriefing sessions, and other relevant documents associated with the interviews of Bruce Ohr and his internal communications. Including exculpatory evidence that Bruce Ohr may have shared with FBI Agent Joseph Pientka. [And get a deposition from this Pientka fella] Bruce Ohr is the courier, carrying information from those outside to those on the inside.
♦ Release the August 2nd, 2017, two-page scope memo provided by DAG Rod Rosenstein to special counsel Robert Mueller to advance the fraudulent Trump investigation, and initiate the more purposeful obstruction of justice investigation. Also Release the October 20th, 2017, second scope memo recently discovered. The Scope Memos are keys to unlocking the underlying spy/surveillance cover-up. [SEE HERE and SEE HERE]
It’s doubtful the intelligence apparatus would ever permit the public to see the 99-page FISA opinion written by FISC Presiding Judge Rosemary Collyer. It would be too damaging to the objective of future FISA authorization.
However, we could also to see material that is not included in any of the declassification lists, such as the fully unredacted Kavalec email and notes. Time will tell.
If Laura Ingraham is correct, the “Principle Draft Review” phase for the Inspector General report may soon be coming. The draft review allows each of the people identified within the report the opportunity to submit any response or counter to the information as presented by the reference-check phase.
Each of the recipients of the draft report must sign an NDA; however, the NDA only covers the content of the report, not the general submission/appearance of the draft report itself.
The IG may choose to include response(s) from the principles in the draft report, or the IG may not; some of that depends on the advice of the person or group who fulfilled the reference check. Usually if the IG adds the principle comment, the IG will rebut the comment with additional information and citation (from the referencer).
Once we hear about the draft report (media will mention it – perhaps next week), it will be around a month to full public release of the final report that everyone will see.