01:17 - Source: CNN
Carter Page claims there was spying in Trump Tower
CNN —  

Senate Judiciary Chairman Lindsey Graham is pushing the Justice Department to declassify still-secret parts of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act warrants on Carter Page and other documents related to the Justice Department inspector general’s ongoing investigation into FBI surveillance efforts in 2016 and 2017.

Graham wrote a letter to Attorney General William Barr, released Tuesday, urging him to use the declassification powers he was granted by President Donald Trump to declassify material surrounding Inspector General Michael Horowitz’s investigation into the Page FISA process. His letter comes after the Justice Department said Friday that the declassification has not yet been ordered, and a private lawyer seeking the classified information learned the executive branch was considering it.

Graham wrote that Horowitz’s investigation is “nearing completion,” according to Horowitz, and he listed nine classified documents he said should be released based on his review. Those include the Page FISA materials, any transcripts or summaries of George Papadopoulos’ conversations with confidential informants and “the chart that shows the FBI’s attempts to verify the allegations in the Steele dossier,” a reference to the opposition research document compiled by former British intelligence agent Christopher Steele.

“In order for the Inspector General to be able to present the most complete results of his investigation to Congress and the American people, certain documents will need to be declassified and released to the public,” Graham wrote.

Graham’s letter follows the Justice Department telling a federal judge Friday night that neither Trump nor Barr has ordered the declassification of the Page FISA warrants – despite White House statements that Trump wanted them made public, and another executive branch discussion Friday that may have led to declassification.

With Graham’s letter and the Justice Department lawyers’ careful wording Friday, it appears declassification could still be on the table.

The Justice Department filing came in a public records lawsuit from USA Today reporter Brad Heath and the transparency group the James Madison Project, who’ve sued for access to the parts of the memos that haven’t been released.

Brad Moss, a lawyer for Heath and the James Madison Project, said Friday night that the Justice Department had told him earlier that day that the executive branch was again discussing whether to move forward on declassifying the documents.

They had ruled it out as of Friday. Yet according to their filing, declassification would still be possible in the future.

The Justice Department filing noted how Trump had given Barr the authority in May to declassify documents “as part of his ongoing review of intelligence activities relating to the campaigns in the 2016 Presidential election and certain related matters.”

“Although the President did delegate declassification authority to the Attorney General, to date, the Attorney General has not exercised that declassification authority to declassify the materials remaining at issue in this case,” the Justice Department wrote in its court filing Friday night.