Trump Was Worried Biden, 'Deep State' Would Destroy Russian Probe Documents Former President Donald Trump (AP)
By Charlie McCarthy | Thursday, 08 September 2022 09:50 AM EDT
Former President Donald Trump was worried that his enemies would destroy certain Russia-related documents that exonerated him, and pushed to declassify the records during his final days in office.
Trump, believing the documents would expose a "Deep State" plot against him, told several people that he was concerned that incoming President Joe Biden's administration would "shred," bury, or destroy "the evidence," Rolling Stone reported Wednesday.
The documents were related to the federal investigation into the since discredited story about Russian collusion with Trump's 2016 campaign.
Trump and White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows worked to declassify information right up to when Biden took the oath of office, Rolling Stone said.
The Rolling Stone story came a month after FBI agents raided Trump's Florida home with a warrant saying the former president had 11 sets of classified documents at Mar-a-Lago, and that the DOJ had probable cause to conduct the search based on possible Espionage Act violations.
Trump and allies, however, say the documents had been declassified.
Neither Trump nor the Department of Justice (DOJ) have said much about what documents were taken during the Aug. 8 raid.
The former president, though, did hint that Russia-related documents could be among the materials the FBI sought.
"I think they thought it was something to do with the Russia, Russia, Russia hoax," Trump told a Newsmax host during a Sept. 1 radio interview.
"They were afraid that things were in there — part of their scam material."
John Ratcliffe, former director of National Intelligence, told CBS that, "it wouldn't surprise me if there were records related to [Russia] there."
Ratcliffe, a month before the 2020 election, declassified intelligence detailing how the U.S. had obtained information about "Russian intelligence analysis" on former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton's campaign.
Critics of Ratcliffe's move said declassifications could out sensitive sources.
A day before leaving office, Trump sent a memo to the acting attorney general and intelligence officials to say the DOJ had sent him a binder of materials on the FBI's so-called "Crossfire Hurricane" investigation in late December 2020 "so I could determine to what extent materials in the binder should be released in unclassified form."
The materials, according to journalist John Solomon, Trump's representative to the National Archives, included "transcripts of intercepts made by the FBI of Trump aides, a declassified copy of the final FISA warrant approved by an intelligence court, and the tasking orders and debriefings of the two main confidential human sources."
Meadows later in his memoir wrote that he "personally went through every page" of the documents to make sure the declassified portions didn't "disclose sources and methods." He also described his frustration by what he considered "push back" from the DOJ and FBI.