President Donald Trump on Friday put the brakes on his plan to declassify and release documents and texts related to the federal investigation of his presidential campaign and the inquiry into Russian interference in the 2016 election.
The apparent reversal, which leaves unclear when, or if, the material will be released, came after days of criticism about his move to declassify the items.
Trump said in two tweets that he has asked the Justice Department’s internal watchdog, Inspector General Michael Horowitz, to review the documents “on an expedited basis” after concerns were raised by DOJ officials that releasing the documents “may have a perceived negative impact on the Russia probe.”
“Also, key Allies’ [sic] called to ask not to release,” Trump tweeted. “In the end I can always declassify if it proves necessary.”
Trump told Fox News on Thursday night regarding to documents, “We are moving along, we’re working along.”
“We are also dealing with foreign countries that do have a problem. I must tell you. I got called today from two very good allies saying, ‘Please, can we talk,’ ” Trump said. “It is not as simple as all of that. We do have to respect their wishes. But it will all come out.”
A spokesman for Horowitz did not immediately respond to a request for comment on CNBC.
Trump on Monday declassified 21 pages of a 101-page application by the FBI in 2017 to renew a surveillance warrant allowing the FBI to monitor communications of ex-Trump campaign aid Carter Page.
Page has told a congressional committee he had contacts during the campaign with people connected to Russia.
Monday’s move surprised current and former members of the U.S. intelligence community.
“This is certainly unprecedented,” Robert Litt, who during the Obama administration had served as general counsel of the Office of the Director of National Intelligence, told NBC News.
“Between the compromise of sources and methods, the impact on the willingness of people to cooperate, and the potential of selective release of classified material for partisan purposes, I think intelligence officials will find it very troubling,” Litt said.