Trump: Allies concerned about declassifying Russia papers

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By JILL COLVIN and ERIC TUCKER

Associated Press

WASHINGTON (AP) – President Donald Trump on Friday delayed his own order to declassify and release documents from the FBI’s Russia investigation, saying the Justice Department and U.S. allies have raised security concerns about their disclosure.

The announcement, in a pair of tweets, represented a highly unusual walk-back for a president who has pressed for the release of classified information that he believes will expose “really bad things” at the FBI and discredit special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation into possible coordination between Russia and the Trump campaign.

The president on Monday had called for the declassification of highly sensitive records from the Russia probe, including a portion of a warrant application to monitor the communications of a Trump campaign adviser. The Justice Department said it had begun complying with the order, though officials had previously strenuously objected to the release of classified information they said could jeopardize the investigation and compromise secret sources.

On Friday, Trump said that instead of moving forward immediately, the department’s inspector general had been asked to review these documents on an “expedited basis.” He tweeted that he believes the office will move quickly.

The president also noted: “In the end I can always declassify if it proves necessary. Speed is very important to me – and everyone!” Trump added.

Trump signaled a slowdown in an interview with Fox News on Thursday, when he said that several close allies had called to raise concerns about his decision to order the release of unredacted documents, which also including text messages of several FBI and Justice Department officials whom the president has for months personally attacked.

On Friday, he said, Justice Department officials had warned him that the declassification of documents “may have a perceived negative impact on the Russia probe.”

It was also not immediately clear which allies had raised concerns about releasing the documents.

A spokesman for the inspector general did not immediately return a message seeking comment.

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