Monday, Oct 22, 2018
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Editorials

Declassify the Russia investigation documents

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President Donald Trump’s decision to allow the Justice Department’s inspector general to review documents related to the ongoing Russia probe is a smart step toward transparency in this lengthy, opaque investigation.

Mr. Trump announced last week that he planned to unilaterally declassify the documents, including the secret court order to spy on former Trump campaign adviser Carter Page.

That American citizens still know so little about the alleged interference is appalling. The investigation into Russian meddling in the 2016 presidential election has been going for nearly a year and a half and our country is no closer to the answers it so badly deserves.

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Did the Russian interference have a meaningful impact on the outcome of the election? Did high-level members of either presidential campaign work in coordination with Russian officials? Why did the FBI, under President Barack Obama, monitor members of the Trump campaign without informing candidate Trump his staffers were under investigation?

With the midterm elections looming and the U.S. taxpayers still footing the bill for this lengthy investigation, at least some answers would be expected by now. But average Americans are still in the dark.

Declassifying some of the documents related to the monitoring of Mr. Page might answer some of the most critical, lingering questions. Considering the concerns surrounding the FBI — it would seem the bureau has become dangerously politicized — the court order authorizing the surveillance of Mr. Page could offer citizens the chance to review the evidence and come to their own conclusions.

Mr. Trump was smart to back off his initial, unilateral declaration and entrust the Justice Department’s inspector general with the review. An executive fiat declassifying those documents could only have been interpreted as a raw political move, and the president would be wise to avoid those kind of decisions wherever he can. But the American people deserve the unvarnished truth.

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