The president ordered the Department of Justice and director of National Intelligence to declassify documents related to a search warrant on Trump campaign foreign policy adviser Carter Page, as well as interviews conducted by DOJ official Bruce Ohr.
Specifically, the president ordered the Justice Department and the Office of the Director of National Intelligence to declassify sections of the secret court order to surveil former campaign adviser Carter Page, along with Federal Bureau of Investigation reports and interviews of him.
President Trump's order to declassify a slew of documents Monday regarding the FBI's warrant to spy on an American citizen and the bureau's handling of the investigation into alleged collusion between Trump and Russian Federation is being hailed by Republican lawmakers as a major step in "transparency".
The White House said the president made his decision in the interest of "transparency" and at the request of several congressional committees.
For months Trump's allies in Congress have worked to supply documentation to back up the president's insistence that the Russian Federation probe is a "witch hunt", while the Justice Department has fought to withhold information that might damage the ongoing probe.
"President Trump, in a clear abuse of power, has made a decision to intervene in a pending law enforcement investigation by ordering the selective release of materials he believes are helpful to his defense team and thinks will advance a false narrative", Schiff said. It's also unclear if the multi-agency review now underway might find ways to withhold certain information or limit whatever damage, such as outing sources or scaring off would-be ones, that may arise from the release.
"The applications routinely will contain critically sensitive details about the methods and means by which intelligence investigations gather information, including the identities of sources who may well be endangered if their identity becomes public and who certainly will be dis-incentivized from future cooperation as well", said Bobby Chesney, a national security law professor at the University of Texas.
Representative Adam Schiff, the top Democrat on the House of Representatives Intelligence Committee, sharply criticized Trump.
"The danger (is that) decisions such as this, especially if they might appear to be politically motivated, suggest that the U.S. Government can't be trusted to keep its own secrets", said the official, speaking on condition of anonymity.
But what Manafort might have to offer Mueller about the Trump campaign is not publicly unknown, although prosecutors only dropped some charges against Manafort after hearing in advance what he had to say.
Trump has denied colluding with Russian Federation and Russia has denied meddling in the 2016 election, though major US intelligence agencies agree that Russian Federation interfered.
According to the White House, Trump declassified 21 pages of the 101-page June 2017 application to renew a warrant obtained under the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act, or FISA, to monitor Page's communications in 2016.
Document declassification orders, whether triggered by the White House or some other level of government, involve a complex inter-agency review process.
"With the walls clearly closing in on him, President Trump is lashing out with this extraordinarily reckless and irresponsible release of classified information in a desperate attempt to distract from the seven guilty pleas and the mounting evidence of multiple criminal enterprises among his closest advisors", they said.