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Trump Declassified a Trove of Russiagate Investigation Documents On Jan. 19, 2021, The Day Before He Left Office—And The Justice Department Is Still Hiding Them

On Jan. 19, 2021, the day before he left office, former President Donald Trump declassified a trove of documents related to the Justice Department’s botched investigation of Trump that falsely accused him and his 2016 presidential campaign of being Russian agents.

These appear to be the same documents the FBI raided from Trump’s residence in Palm Beach, Fla., Mar-a-Lago, on Aug. 8. On Truth Social, on Aug. 12, Trump noted that “it was all declassified,” referring to the documents seized.

And the Biden Administration Justice Department led by Attorney General Merrick Garland never complied with the Trump memorandum, Senate Judiciary Committee Ranking Member Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) and Sen. Ron Johnson (R-Wis.) revealed in a Feb. 15, 2022 letter to Garland. It was a follow-up to an Oct. 2021 letter on the same complaining about the lack of disclosure.

Grassley and Johnson wrote in the Feb. 2022 letter, “We remain concerned that over one year from the date then-President Trump directed the Justice Department to declassify certain Crossfire Hurricane records the Justice Department has not only failed to declassify a single page, the Department has failed to identify for Congress records that it knows with certainty to be covered by the declassification directive.”

In the memorandum, entitled, “Memorandum on Declassification of Certain Materials Related to the FBI’s Crossfire Hurricane Investigation,” Trump outlined how the materials were presented to him to be declassified: “At my request, on December 30, 2020, the Department of Justice provided the White House with a binder of materials related to the Federal Bureau of Investigation’s Crossfire Hurricane investigation.  Portions of the documents in the binder have remained classified and have not been released to the Congress or the public.  I requested the documents so that a declassification review could be performed and so I could determine to what extent materials in the binder should be released in unclassified form. I determined that the materials in that binder should be declassified to the maximum extent possible.”

But not before the FBI complained about the need for redactions, with Trump granting the redactions: “In response, and as part of the iterative process of the declassification review, under a cover letter dated January 17, 2021, the Federal Bureau of Investigation noted its continuing objection to any further declassification of the materials in the binder and also, on the basis of a review that included Intelligence Community equities, identified the passages that it believed it was most crucial to keep from public disclosure.  I have determined to accept the redactions proposed for continued classification by the FBI in that January 17 submission.”

The Trump memorandum continued, “I hereby declassify the remaining materials in the binder.  This is my final determination under the declassification review and I have directed the Attorney General to implement the redactions proposed in the FBI’s January 17 submission and return to the White House an appropriately redacted copy.”

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