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Brennan: FBI Officials ‘Have an Obligation’ to ‘Not Follow’ Trump’s Declassification Order
‘He certainly has the authority to do it, but I think it is highly inappropriate, and anybody who knows the issues feels similarly’
By Grabien Staff

Former CIA director John Brennan is calling on the FBI to "not follow" President Trump's declassification order of material relating to the provenance of the Russia probe.

"Christopher Wray, director of the FBI and Dan Coats, director of national intelligence as well as Rod Rosenstein who is overseeing this investigation should push back against any directive that is going to have a negative impact on our capabilities as well as the investigation," Brennan said Thursday. "I think that they should continue to push, push, push."

Brennan suggested FBI officials should resign before declassifying these documents.

"If Mr. Trump and the White House does not relent," Brennan continued, "then I think they have some decisions to make, whether or not they are going to the just not follow that direction and be fired or to resign. But if they really believe that this is going on to have serious impact on the national security, law enforcement, and judicial process, they have an obligation since they took the oath of office to the Constitution of the United States and not the Mr. Trump to uphold their responsibilities and their agency and the departments’ authorities.”

In calling for the FBI to disobey Trump's declassification order, Brennan echoed lawyer Harry Litman, who earlier on MSNBC said he hopes the FBI "bureaucracy" will create "a little less transparency" and "temporize" Trump's instructions. 

"There is going to be, I think, a little bit of a bureaucratic stalling maneuver, and a hope to kind of temporize this," Litman said. "They say, ‘Well, he’s ordered the beginning of a declassification process.’ They may at the end of the day hope to, you know, come out with a little bit less transparency."

Here's a transcript of Brennan's comments:

MITCHELL: “Let’s get reaction to this decision from NBC News senior national security analyst and former CIA Director John Brennan. How unusual is this?”
BRENNAN: “Well, it is very unusual and it’s very concerning from two principle perspectives. One is that I think it is highly inappropriate and unethical for Mr. Trump to the take any action that pertains to the FBI criminal investigation of Russian collusion, and Russian — and cooperation with Russia in the election of which Mr. Trump and close associates are subjects. So that should not happen that he would be able to take such an action — he certainly has the authority to do it, but I do think it is highly inappropriate, and I think everybody who knows these issues feels similarly. Secondly, to basically order the Department of Justice and the FBI to release this information, even that which was redacted earlier, it’s really just pushing this envelope, and I think it’s making a lot of law enforcement official, Department of Justice officials and intelligence community officials very concerned about the negative impact and consequences of doing that. So, yes, he has the authority to do these things. The question though is whether or not it is the right thing to do and whether it is something that Mr. Trump is just trying to continue to find ways to get himself out of the mess that he is currently in.”
MITCHELL: “Now, as we sit here and talk about this very important decision, the president, we want to the say is now coming out with first lady to welcome the Polish President Andrzej Duda and his wife for a visit. They will have a working lunch. We will have a news conference later today. We, of course, will carry that live. That news conference is probably around 10 minutes after 2:00, and as they arrive here at the South Portico, we don’t expect any comments. So as you’ve been saying, the nature of this is going to the heart of the warrants against Carter Page, those are warrants and a wealth of documentation that could include sources and methods. Now, how that is declassified is up to the agencies, but you have to think that the DNI and the top officials would not be welcoming this move, but it’s — it’s an order from the White House. Should they be weighing it, should they be protesting, some people have said, some people should be resigning in protest.”
BRENNAN: “Well I think that Christopher Wray, director of the FBI and Dan Coats, director of national intelligence as well as Rod Rosenstein who is overseeing this investigation should push back against any directive that is going to have a negative impact on our capabilities as well as the investigation. So I think that they should continue to push, push, push, if Mr. Trump and the White House does not relent, then I think they have some decisions to make, whether or not they are going to the just not follow that direction and be fired or to resign. But if they really believe that this is going on to have serious impact on the national security, law enforcement, and judicial process, they have an obligation since they took the oath of office to the Constitution of the United States and not the Mr. Trump to uphold their responsibilities and their agency and the departments’ authorities.”

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