20:32 GMT05 March 2021
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    Since the Mueller investigation turned up insufficient evidence to accuse US President Donald Trump of colluding with Russia to get elected in 2016, the FBI's case for beginning the probe has slowly fallen apart as sources, surveillance applications, and agents' motives are all brought to light.

    In a last-minute move before he exits the White House on Wednesday, Trump has ordered the declassification of key materials related to the FBI's Crossfire Hurricane surveillance operation of his 2016 presidential campaign.

    According to the White House's memo, which is addressed to the attorney general, director of national intelligence, and CIA director, Trump ordered a number of documents on the Crossfire Hurricane counterintelligence operation "declassified to the maximum extent possible" over the FBI's persistent objections.

    "I hereby declassify the remaining materials in the binder," Trump said on Tuesday. "This is my final determination under the declassification review and I have directed the Attorney General to implement the redactions proposed in the FBI's January 17 submission and return to the White House an appropriately redacted copy."

    However, Trump noted that he allowed certain documents to remain classified as required by the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) court.

    The disclosure follows a massive release of documents by Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Lindsey Graham (R-SC) last week from the committee's investigation of the Crossfire Hurricane operation earlier this year.

    In the 2016-2017 operation, undertaken in the months before Trump was elected president, the FBI probed his campaign for suspected links with the Russian government. The first stage of the Russiagate scandal, Crossfire Hurricane ended in May 2017, when Trump appointed former FBI director Robert Mueller as special counsel to head up the investigation. 

    In a 2019 report, Mueller said he found insufficient evidence to accuse Trump of a crime, but several people who had been figures in or close to Trump's election campaign were charged for unrelated crimes, including financial crimes and "procedural" crimes such as lying to FBI agents.

    In the aftermath of Mueller's report, Republicans set out to discover the origins of the probe, including why Trump and his campaign affiliates were investigated if there was no evidence of a crime. Headed by US Attorney John Durham, the probe was elevated to the status of special counsel in October 2020.

    DOJ Inspector General Michael Horowitz delivered his own report on Crossfire Hurricane in December 2019, finding that while the FBI committed major violations in applying for surveillance warrants at the FISA Court, there was no indication of a political bias at work.

    Related:

    Trump's Decision to Pardon Flynn Puts Final Nail in Russiagate Coffin, Ex-Diplomat Believes
    Declassified Docs on Russiagate Probe Reveal Problems With Sources, ‘Politicisation’ From the Start
    Tags:
    Russiagate, FBI, Hurricane, crossfire, declassified documents, Donald Trump
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